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Why Bradford is now UK's top destination for AI and data analytics


Student Cisem Celenoglu

The University of Bradford is offering 35 £10,000 scholarships for its one-year Masters course in AI and data analytics.

The money from the Office for Students can be used to cover course and living costs and is directed at underrepresented groups, such as women, students registered as disabled, care leavers, refugees and children from military families.

The University of Bradford’s School of Management runs three full-time MSc programmes in Applied Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (and two part-time courses) - all have been designed in response to a shortage of AI and data analytics specialists in the UK.

The University of Bradford now boasts the highest number of graduates in AI and data analytics (according to official figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency).  It has previously been awarded £1.4m by the Office for Students to help increase the number of students with skills needed by industry, equating to 

The AI and data analytics course at Bradford was launched in 2020 with £1.4m funding from the Office for Students, which led to 60 scholarships in the first cycle (2020-23) and 40 in the second (2023-24). A further 35 scholarships have now been confirmed for intakes in October 2024 and January 2025, meaning that, by next year, the university will have offered 135 £10,000 scholarships.

It is a conversion course, so meant for professionals who want to switch careers or expand and update their skillset.

Zahir Irani

Academic voice

Professor Zahir Irani, pictured above, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford and institutional sponsor for AI, said: “Three years ago, we had no graduates in AI and data analytics but we had a real desire to grow our capabilities in this area. Now we have the most in the country and recognised as a destination of choice. We are extremely proud to be able to offer another 35 * £10,000 scholarships to underrepresented groups.

"This is a significant investment that responds directly to a demand for these skills from industry. That means that when graduates leave us, they have skills that businesses are now demanding in order to remain competitive. This is also an example of how we, as a university, make a difference to our graduates, businesses and society in general.” 

Kamran Mahroof

Dr Kamran Mahroof, pictured above, from the Faculty of Management, Law & Social Sciences, said: “Digital skills is the new currency in today’s world of work. For most businesses now,  it is not a question of if, but when they will need to engage with artificial intelligence, whether that is inward facing, to optimise their processes, or externally, to better understand their customers. Our MSc is a platform for students to upskill and prepare them for the future of work, making them more desirable to businesses which are all now navigating the AI landscape.”

Industry voice

Dr Joanna Pritchard, Manager of Global Academic Programs at SAS, who also sits on the University of Bradford’s International Advisory Board in the School of Management, said: “In every field, proficiency in data analytics and AI is essential. Employers actively seek individuals with the ability to manipulate and analyse data or make decisions informed by data-driven insights. The significance of data in the realm of AI cannot be overstated, and this MSc program plays a crucial role in equipping graduates for the evolving landscape of work. 

“The availability of scholarships ensures that students from diverse backgrounds can enhance their skills, contributing to a varied talent pool for employers. This not only enhances the UK's standing on the global AI stage but also positions the University of Bradford as a significant contributor to this pool of talent, which I find incredibly exciting.”

Student voice

Cisem Celenoglu, 24, pictured top, originally from Turkey, has a background in marketing and enrolled on the AI and data analytics programme at Bradford "to apply AI, data analytics, and machine learning techniques to elevate the data-driven decision-making process in marketing."

She said: “The Applied AI and Data Analytics master's program has been a game-changer for me. It offers a fast track to mastery in AI, data analytics and machine learning within a year.

“It is such a unique course for not requiring any technical background. Starting from ground zero, we learn the principles of programming, machine learning , artificial intelligence and mastering data analytics tools like SAS.

“There are hands-on learning opportunities with lab sessions and tutorials every week. Lessons included real-life examples, tutorials, and interactive sessions, giving us a mix of practical and theoretical knowledge.

“The programme is great for anyone looking to start a career in data science and AI, making sure we're well-prepared for the changing job market.”