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Oxford to launch scholarship to improve representation

DIVERSITY IN TECH: Oxford's new scholarship will aim to improve access to computer science for under-represented groups

OXFORD UNIVERSITY has announced it will launch a scholarship to encourage under-represented groups to pursue postgraduate computer science education.

The scholarship is being established following what is understood to be a considerable donation from Google DeepMind.

The donation amount, which has not been disclosed, has been described by Oxford as “generous”.

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 scholarships will be awarded to students who plan to complete Master’s degrees in Oxford’s department of computer science. during the 2019/20 academic year.

Successful applicants will have identify as a member of one of the following groups: female and black and minority ethnic or come from households which historically have a low progression to higher education.

Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of the DeepMind, 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.”

Founded in London in 2010, DeepMind, which describes itself as the world leader in artificial intelligence research, was acquired by Google in 2014.

The announcement of its partnership with Oxford comes as the university continues to face criticism over its failure to increase the numbers of black students it enrols.

Last week the university was criticised after claims emerged that it had rejected Stormzy’s scholarship proposal.

Oxford denied the claims.

It said: “We have not received or turned down a proposal for student support from Stormzy and have been speaking to his team this morning to establish what happened.”

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