University of Sheffield awarded grant to boost graduate skills in cyber security and AI

  • The University of Sheffield has been awarded £183K to develop two new MSc programmes combining cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The funding will help the University inspire and educate the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

Artificial Intelligence

The University of Sheffield is one of 30 universities and colleges in England to be awarded a share of £6.1 million by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop new and enhanced higher education courses.

The Department of Computer Science has been awarded £183k of project funding from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund programme which will help boost skills in key sectors identified in the Industry Strategy. HEFCE’s investment will help to enhance graduate outcomes and employability. The aim is to upskill the workforce, by providing the key skills that industry and employers will need and thereby contribute to UK productivity in the longer term.

The University of Sheffield will use its HEFCE grant to develop two new MSc programmes combining cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI).

Professor John Clark, Chair of Computer and Information Security in the Department of Computer Science, said: “Cybersecurity is one of the biggest problems facing the UK and artificial intelligence has enormous potential for solving many of the cybersecurity problems we face. We will develop versatile graduates who can make an impact across many digital sectors, from commerce, local government, health and policing, through to industrial plant control.

“It's not just an academic endeavour: national and local organizations are helping too, for example, by providing seminar speakers to ensure that our students appreciate the problems faced and by sponsoring research projects. The HEFCE funding will help us develop high quality online content that gives flexible access by those seeking specialist training to support their work and full-time students alike. We think the mixture of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence is going to be very well received and look forward to our graduates having real impact.”

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest problems facing the UK and artificial intelligence has enormous potential for solving many of the cybersecurity problems we face.

Professor John Clark, Chair of Computer and Information Security in the Department of Computer Science

Professor Guy Brown, Head of the Department of Computer Science said: “Tackling future challenges in computer and information security will require an understanding of two cutting-edge areas: cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. This significant award from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund will enable the Department of Computer Science to develop innovative MSc programmes and continuing professional development (CPD) courses that meet this need. The government’s industrial strategy recognises that cybersecurity expertise is a critical issue for UK companies; and of course this is a particular issue in Sheffield, which has a rapidly expanding digital sector. I am therefore particularly pleased that this HEFCE award will strengthen our links with local and regional employers, thus helping the University of Sheffield to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts in the Sheffield City Region and beyond.”

HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “We were delighted with the quality of proposals received for this funding call and particularly the impressive levels of engagement between higher education and industry.

‘This investment represents important support for the government’s Industrial Strategy. The funding will provide new courses and vital skill developments in key industrial sectors across the country, from which students, the workforce and employers all stand to benefit.”

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

High Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

  • HEFCE is the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
  • HEFCE’s Catalyst fund provides targeted investment in projects led by universities and colleges.
  • The fund supports a range of student and HE sector priorities, including innovation in higher education, efficiency and effectiveness, skills and employability, and student interest issues.
  • An invitation to submit proposals to the Catalyst fund for projects to close the skills gap and support the Industrial Strategy through curriculum development was issued on 13 July 2017 and closed on 25 September.
  • Following this competition, HEFCE has awarded a total of £6,145,041 project funding to over 30 institutions.
  • In these projects, universities and colleges will work with industry to develop higher education provision across a number of important sectors which align with the ‘Grand Challenges’ identified in the Industrial Strategy. These include: Mechanical and Advanced Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing, Digital skills, cyber security and artificial intelligence, Data analytics, Nuclear skills, Nursing, health and social care, and medical technologies, Bioscience, Creative design, Flood-resilient engineering and infrastructure development, Renewable energy systems

A recent report by Deloitte on the economic impact of HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund found significant benefits for students, the economy and society.

Read more about the government’s Industrial Strategy


For further information please contact:

Mary Hickey
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221034