DeepMind scholarships to encourage wider participation in computer science

DeepMind scholarships to encourage wider participation in computer science
Oxford's Department of Computer Science. Image credit: Paul Tait

Leading British artificial intelligence company DeepMind has made a generous gift in support of graduate students studying computer science at Oxford.

The donation will be used by Oxford to launch a new scholarship programme to support and encourage under-represented groups in the field to pursue postgraduate education. In addition to the scholarships, which will be awarded at the discretion of the University, DeepMind will also be working with Oxford to offer mentorship and broader support to enhance the students’ studies.

During the 2019/20 academic year, four DeepMind Computer Science Scholarships will be awarded to students wishing to pursue a Master’s degree in Oxford’s Department of Computer Science. They are open to individuals who are ordinarily resident in the UK and who belong to one or more of the following groups: identifying as female, BME, or from households with traditionally low progression to higher education. The scholarship programme will play a key role in enabling Oxford to widen participation in the subject at graduate level. 

Dr Rebecca Surender, University Advocate for Equality and Diversity, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, said: ‘Encouraging and supporting students from under-represented groups to study STEM subjects at graduate level is a key priority for the University. Not only will this new scholarship programme play an important role in helping us to realise this ambition, but by drawing from the widest possible pool of talent, it will also help to create more diverse role models for young people thinking about studying computer science in the future.’

The DeepMind Computer Science Scholarships will complement the department’s well-established outreach and widening participation programme. Professor Peter Jeavons, Professor of Computer Science and Head of Department, said: ‘We are delighted that DeepMind has made this generous gift to the department, so that we can enable excellent students to progress directly to postgraduate study. This is especially timely, as we are beginning to see the results of our efforts to encourage a more diverse group of students to study our undergraduate courses.’

Established in London in 2010, DeepMind is a world leader in artificial intelligence research and its application for positive impact. Dr Demis Hassabis FRS, co-founder and CEO of the company, said: ‘We are delighted to partner with Oxford to extend these scholarships. Computer science is shaping our future in new and exciting ways that impact us all, yet across the field there are groups whose voices remain under-represented. We hope that these scholarships will help to demonstrate that computer science is for everyone and go some way in supporting the next generation of leaders to gain a qualification from one of the best universities in the world.’

The DeepMind Scholarships are the latest in a series of similar programmes initiated by the company to support computer science education in the UK.