• Sofia Eugeniou

Wolverhampton University launches AI programme to draw BAME students

In six days time, the midlands university will host a video conference aimed to entice minority communities to consider careers in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science through a newly available master's degree.

The opportunity at hand is offered by Wolverhampton University's Faculty of Science and Engineering, which has pledged to equip students with the training, education and managerial skills required to meet the industry's standards and codes of practice.

Office for Students, the independent regulator for higher education in England, has recently invested £24 million into its #JoinYourAIFuture campaign programme that aims to ensure every student, despite their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.

Discussing the lack of diversity in the UK tech industry, Professor Amar Aggoun, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Wolverhampton University, said: "Statistics from a Tech Nation and Royal Society report reveal women make up only 19% of the tech workforce and people from a BAME background represent just 4% of the UK tech industry".

Going on to call the higher education institution the 'University of Opportunity', Professor Aggoun stated: "...We were delighted to receive funding for this new course, and we hope to help address the skills gap currently affecting the industry".

Image credit: Forbes

The biggest area showing a lack of diversity is in the UK's AI workforce. Women, for example, represent 49 per cent of the workforce but hold less than 19 per cent of all available technology jobs.

The government's AI Sector Deal acknowledges increasing diversity in the AI workforce is crucial to ensure that everyone with the potential and desire to participate has equal access and opportunity to do so.

Helping support the Midland university's AI programme are local partners Transport for West Midlands, the City of Wolverhampton Council and the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. Students will be provided with a cloud training environment, modelled from real-world scenarios, as well as the opportunity to take on industrial placement opportunities.

Successful students will be able to access study and course materials while having the flexibility to fit their studies around their daily lives. Students will also undertake paid work placements to help maximise their employment opportunities which could see them landing roles like data scientists, research scientists or even AI architects.

Moreover, studying data science and AI at a masters level will mark out students to employers as someone whose expertise is likely to exceed that of candidates who only have a computer science bachelor's degree. The masters could also be a step for successful BAME students towards a PhD.

Interested parties can book onto the Zoom event, which is being held Thursday 30th July 2020, through the university website, wlv.ac.uk.

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