New Lancaster programme to deliver health-focused data scientists

A laptop and stethoscope

Lancaster University is set to launch a new programme that will deliver data scientists equipped to provide insights that will improve health outcomes.

The 12-month conversion course will see graduates from a range of different academic areas gain expertise and insights into health-related data science - working towards an MSc qualification.

Lancaster University is part of an Institute of Coding consortium, led by Coventry University, that has been awarded £3.7 million in funding from the Office for Students to develop a suite of postgraduate conversion courses in artificial intelligence and data science.

The primary goal of the new conversion courses is to respond to the shortage of data science and AI specialists in the UK.

Lancaster University has received a grant of around £250,000 from the Office for Students to deliver the courses and provide scholarships to cohorts over three years.

The first cohort will be recruited onto the existing Data Science MSc programme in October 2020. The second and third cohorts will be recruited onto a new Health Data Science programme.

The Lancaster programme is led by Professor Christopher Edwards, Education Theme Lead at Lancaster University’s Data Science Institute, and Dr Deborah Costain, Associate Dean for Postgraduate Studies at Lancaster University’s Faculty of Science and Technology.

Professor Edwards said: “Our aim is to promote excellence and innovation in the training of current and future health data scientists at all career stages in both public and private sectors. This work will build on the success of our existing masters offering, underpinned by the interdisciplinary approach to data-driven research and education provided by the Data Science Institute.”

The current supply of skilled data science graduates needs to increase significantly to keep pace with demand, which is expected to continue accelerating. The Government's Digital Strategy predicted that within 20 years, 90 per cent of all jobs will require some element of digital skills.

A critical objective of the Institute of Coding consortium is to increase the number of learners from underrepresented groups in AI and data science, and to encourage graduates from diverse backgrounds to consider a future in this area.

The consortium will develop a series of flexible modes of study - a mixture of online, blended and face to face learning, and will also be working together to create a two-week online boot camp to support learners in making the transition to AI and data science.

Other consortium members include:

  • Aston University
  • University of Bath
  • Birkbeck, University of London
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Gloucestershire
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • University of Sunderland
  • University of the West of England
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