Office for Students announces £13m for postgrad STEM conversion courses

The government's digital strategy predicts that 90% of jobs will require digital skills by 2040

The Office for Students will spend £13m on postgraduate STEM conversion courses.

The courses will “quickly upskill” arts students for digital careers, the university watchdog said.

The postgraduate courses are designed to boost the number of graduates with skills in artificial intelligence and data science.

The Office for Students (OfS) is launching a competition to invite university partners to develop and implement the postgraduate schemes, which it hopes will attract as many as 2,500 graduates by 2023.

The multi-million-pound package comprises £3m for course development and £10m for scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds in a bid to boost the number of female, disabled and black tech professionals.

The supply of talent is not keeping pace with demand, and a lack of diversity in the current workforce threatens to undermine the capability and credibility of the sector.
– Nicola Dandridge, Office for Students

The government’s digital strategy predicts that, within 20 years, as many as 90% of jobs will require digital skills. Funding was made available by the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office for Artificial Intelligence (OAI).

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said: “There is a significant and growing demand for digital skills from employers across a wide range of industries, including – increasingly – those that have not traditionally relied heavily on these skills.

“But the supply of talent is not keeping pace with demand, and a lack of diversity in the current workforce threatens to undermine the capability and credibility of the sector.”


You might also like: Institute of Coding: lack of diversity puts young people off digital careers


Chris Skidmore, universities minister, said: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to drive breakthroughs that will positively impact all of our lives. Digital skills in transformational technologies like this are gold dust for employers across a range of industries.

“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.”

To find out more about the criteria for university partners and the new postgraduate courses, visit the Office for Students’ website.