Artificial intelligence (AI) research and applications company DeepMind has donated scholarship funding for four University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) students to complete their Master's degrees in the field of machine learning (ML).
The scholarships will fund students registering for MSc degrees in computer science, AI or robotics in the academic years between 2022 and 2024, Wits says.
The scholarships will provide tuition fees, a stipend, plus conference and equipment funding for two Master's students who aim to complete their degree through dissertation over two years, as well as for two students who enrol in a Master’s programme through coursework and dissertation over two years.
Scholars get their Masters' fees paid in full, as well as guidance and support from a personal DeepMind mentor.
The scholarships seek to increase diversity in the fields of ML and are aimed at students from backgrounds underrepresented in AI who would not be able to continue their studies without financial assistance.
Wits School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics associate Professor Benjamin Rosman says the scholarships will become a much-needed platform and launchpad for the careers of some of the country’s most talented students in AI and ML at Wits.
“Enabled by this support from DeepMind, Wits will bring an even broader range of African talent to the global conversation in cutting-edge AI research, and is a recognition of Wits’ role in ML and AI in Africa,” says Rosman.
The scholarships, known as the DeepMind Scholarships, will only be awarded to students who would not be able to take up their studies without financial assistance. Preference will also be afforded to South African citizens from underrepresented groups, including black students and women. It will also be open to international students with a preference to residents of sub-Saharan African States.
“The spirit of the donation and the DeepMind Scholarships is to increase diversity in the fields of AI and ML and to increase the representation of the groups currently most underrepresented in these fields. We are proud to help support the next generation of AI researchers and engineers in Africa,” says DeepMind University Relations & Education Partnerships global lead Obum Ekeke.
In participating in the DeepMind scholarships programme, Wits joins world-leading universities in the field of ML and AI, such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, New York University and University College London, and is one of only three African universities selected to host DeepMind Scholarships, alongside Stellenbosch University and Makerere University.
“AI is an important building block and key driver in the Wits Digital Transformation suite of centenary projects, of which AI and ML are a key drivers,” says Wits vice chancellor and principal Professor Zeblon Vilakazi.
Prospective Master's students in the fields of AI and ML are encouraged to visit the Wits website for more information on how to apply for the DeepMind scholarships.