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Solent University, Southampton has been awarded £50,000 by the Office for Students (OfS) to kickstart the National Data Skills Pilot Project.

10th November 2021
Computing and games

Aligned with the National Data Strategy this project will help to ensure that students in all academic disciplines will be equipped with the right data skills they need to work in their chosen field.

The growth in AI, Data Science and Cyber specialisms has led to an increase in demand for a broader supply of foundation data skills. This is pivotal to feed the pipeline of advanced skills and to provide businesses with the workforce equipped with foundation data skills. These skills have become even more critical in deploying research capabilities to the coronavirus response.

Dr Shakeel Ahmad, Associate Professor of Computing at Solent University is leading the project, having previously been awarded £500,000 to launch the PG conversion course in AI and Data Science.

He says: “Traditionally data skills are taught in cognate (Computer Science, AI and Data Science) courses only. However, since data has become an integral commodity across all sectors, we need the ‘Data Skills for Everyone’ strategy to promote foundation data skills in non-cognate courses as well. This OfS funding project will enable us to investigate effective approaches to embed foundation data skills in these courses.

Students enrolled in non-cognate courses do not generally expect to learn data skills. Some may have chosen those courses because they believe they are unsuitable for cognate courses or may lack aptitude for cognate subjects.

“The disparity in computer literacy among students is greater in non-cognate courses than cognate courses,” continues Dr Ahmad, “As a result, teaching foundation data skills within these courses in the same way that they are taught in cognate courses may harm student experience, resulting in disengagement and poor retention. Our approach will transform the experience of learning data skills into stimulating and engaging activities for students of all abilities.”

The project will run from October 2021 to March 2022 and will be match-funded by Solent University.