Google parent company Alphabet has donated scholarship funding for four Wits University students to complete their Masters degrees in the field of machine learning.
The scholarships – which will be offered by Alphabet’s artificial intelligence research company DeepMind – will fund students registering for MSc degrees in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, or Robotics between 2022 and 2024.
The DeepMind scholarships include tuition fees, a stipend, plus conference and equipment funding.
The company will be funding two Masters students who aim to complete their degree through dissertation over two years, as well as two students who enrol in a Master’s programme through coursework and dissertation over two years.
Scholars get their Masters’ fees paid in full, in addition to guidance and support from a personal DeepMind mentor.
These will only be awarded to students who would not be able to take up their studies without financial assistance, with preference given to South African citizens from underrepresented groups, including black students and women.
It will also be open to international students, with a preference for residents of Sub-Saharan African countries.
DeepMind global lead for university relations & education partnerships, Obum Ekeke, said the company was proud to help support the next generation of AI researchers and engineers in Africa.
“The spirit of the donation and the DeepMind Scholarships is to increase diversity in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and to increase the representation of the groups currently most underrepresented in these fields,” said Ekeke.
Associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Wits, Benjamin Rosman, said the scholarships would become a “much-needed platform and launchpad to the careers of some of the country’s most talented students.
“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,” said Rosman.
Wits joins two other African universities – Stellenbosh University and Makerere Univeristy – as well as world-leading universities in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence who are participating in the DeepMind scholarships programme.
The latter includes the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, New York University, and University College London.
For more information on how to apply for the DeepMind scholarships, prospective Masters students in the fields of AI and machine learning can visit the Wits website.