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UK pledges £13m to AI and data science conversion courses

The government has unveiled plans to invest £13m in postgraduate conversion courses in data science and artificial intelligence.

The initiative will see universities and higher education providers partner with industry to develop new courses that train graduates, who may have studied a non-STEM degree, in the skills required to embark upon careers in the field.

The funding forms part of a wider £400m investment in maths, digital and technical education through the government’s AI sector deal, which was launched last year amid criticism that ministers were failing to protect the UK’s tech scene ahead of Brexit.

Under the new initiative, the Office for Students and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have allocated £3m to course development and £10m to scholarships for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, including female, disabled and black students. It is hoped that 2,500 students will have enrolled in one of the new courses by 2023.

Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, said “artificial intelligence has the potential to drive breakthroughs that will positively impact all of our lives. Today’s funding for conversion courses will help our universities train the next generation of artificial intelligence experts and in doing so, ensure we continue to support talented people to develop these skills to help our economy thrive in the future.”

The deadline for applications for funding is 10 January. The courses will begin in September 2020.