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Data science honours programme

This petition had 45 supporters

I am writing to ask that the computer science, statistics, and mathematics departments consider coming together to offer a data science honours program from 2019.

Currently students have to choose between post graduate programs in one of these majors, which only allow two courses in another subject area, or the master of professional studies program in data science.

The masters program is oriented towards the need for data scientists in industry, which is important. The courses included are largely practical, excluding many courses which are very relevant to data science but are more theoretical or cover areas that are not in such high demand.

There are financial benefits of honours programs that do not apply to the masters. The university guarantees scholarships for straight A students in honours and research masters programs, but not taught masters programs. Currently students cannot qualify for the student allowance when taking post graduate courses other than honours. The new government recently withdrew their promise to change this law.

Data science needs to train future academics in the full range of theory and techniques for doing magic with huge amounts of data. That means the flexibility to study a combination of statistics, computer science, and mathematics papers. It means having a program designed to prepare students to go on to doctorates in the field. It means strong collaboration between the departments, and encouraging co-supervision of dissertation topics that bridge them. It means a senior faculty member charged with overseeing the cohort of students going through the program each year. It means an honours program in data science.

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