The University of Leeds is offering scholarships for students to study data science-related Masters courses, which will help increase diversity and improve skill gaps in the digital workforce.

Applications are now open for 18 scholarships to study on three data science-related Masters courses in the 2023-24 academic year, following the university’s successful bid for funding from the Office for Students (OfS).

The scheme aims to encourage more women, black students, disabled students and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds into data science and AI industries. 

A report from Ipsos Mori has emphasised that the current workforce in AI and data science is not representative of the wider population: 53% of the AI-related firms surveyed said none of their employees were female, and 40% had no employees from an ethnic minority background.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor and President, said: “Together, we aim to make a difference in the world by building a better future for everyone – and equity and diversity is at the heart of this. 

“We are on the path to building an inclusive university community which tackles inequalities, ensuring everyone can belong, thrive and succeed. Scholarships like this open up opportunities for more people to achieve the careers they want, and allow them to be the best version of themselves.”

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Louise Banahene, Director of Educational Engagement at the University of Leeds, said:  “We know that breaking down discrimination and bias benefits our entire community. 

“By opening up the MSc courses to students who are underrepresented in these industries, we’re enabling more people to achieve their aspirations, as well as increasing the pool of talented graduates entering the UK’s data science and AI industry.”

Funding for the scholarships comes from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI).

The Office for Students scholarships are worth £10,000 per student. Students may also be eligible for the Leeds Masters Scholarships, worth £7,000 per student. 

Students will also be enrolled in The Plus Programme, which is a support network for students from backgrounds that are under-represented at university.

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