Government announces industry-funded AI master’s degrees

Programme launched by ministers Greg Clark and Jeremy Wright to ‘train the next generation of top-tier AI talent’

A series of industry-funded master’s degrees in AI has been announced today by business secretary Greg Clark and digital secretary Jeremy Wright.

Up to 200 new AI master’s places will be available at UK universities, funded by companies such as DeepMind, QuantumBlack, Cisco, and BAE Systems.

The degrees are part of a ‘skills and talent package’ which is itself a part of the UK Industrial Strategy’s AI Sector Deal, launched in April 2018. This deal will receive up to £110m in government investment, as well as industry funding.

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Professor Dame Wendy Hall, AI skills champion and co-author of the ‘Growing the artificial intelligence industry in the UK’ report on which the Sector Deal has been built, told ET: “A lot of master’s students in the UK are from overseas, and because it is often difficult for them to get visas to remain working here once their studies finish, they take their talent back to their home countries. So we need a homegrown AI workforce.

“It’s also really important that we get a more balanced workforce in AI. We’re actively trying to work out a way to do this, but it’s really difficult. Watch this space.”

Master’s degrees will be coupled with work-based placements, and will allow thousands of graduates to become qualified experts in artificial intelligence.

It’s really important that we get a more balanced workforce in AI.
– Professor Dame Wendy Hall

One thousand PhD programmes will also be available at 16 dedicated UK research and innovation AI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the country, as well as up to five AI research fellowships in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute. These fellowships aim to attract top research talent from around the world.

Digital secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Working with world-class academic institutions and industry we will be able to train the next generation of top-tier AI talent and maintain the UK’s reputation as a trailblazer in emerging technologies.”

“The schemes, aimed at people of different stages in higher education and available to researchers at a variety of levels, helps to build advanced AI skills at all levels, a key commitment contained within the AI Sector Deal,” he added.

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The new programme is supported by figures from Tech Nation, which has revealed that the number of venture capital investments into AI in the UK grew by 17% last year.

UK research and innovation chief executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “To maintain its leadership in AI, the UK will need a new generation of researchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs equipped with new skills. Working with partners across academia and industry, the centres announced today will provide the foundations for these future leaders.”

More information about AI fellowships, as well as how to apply, can be found on the Alan Turing Institute site at
To register interest in sponsoring or providing AI Master’s courses, please contact [email protected]