A decade of data fellows

The University of Manchester’s Data Fellows programme was developed in 2014 to cultivate future social science researchers by providing students with a skill set highly valued by employers. The programme helps students to acquire valuable real-world experience and succeed in data careers by bridging the gap between the University and the workplace.

Over the last decade, this initiative has provided 350 social science and humanities undergraduates, 70% being female and 25% from historically under-represented groups, with eight-week long, living-wage paid data-driven research projects in prestigious organisations. These include Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Poverty Action, and many other organisations driving change within and outside the city region.

The programme plays a key role in influencing the career trajectory of the students. Aleksandr Mednikov, a Politics, Philosophy, and Economics student, spent his summer as a data fellow at Greater Manchester Poverty Action. In an interview, Aleks and his supervisor, Daniel Oliver, discuss the research he has undertaken, how it can be sustained, the very real issue of poverty across Greater Manchester, as well as how organisations like GMPA are making a difference to families through initiatives like their Money Matters program. Aleks says, “This data fellowship led me understand what I want to do and my future career. I want to continue to fight against poverty. I understand I can do a good thing, enjoy it and be useful.”

To support a student for an eight-week-long paid data fellowship costs approximately £4,000. Prof Jackie Carter, the programme director, says: Teaching social science and humanities students data analysis skills and providing opportunities for them to practise these skills in prestigious organisations is a winning combination. Our data fellows say this is what sets them apart from their peers. We would love to scale this programme up as all sectors need more graduates from humanities backgrounds who can tackle complex social research questions. As we have shown, creating a diverse talent pipeline into data and tech careers improves outcomes for everyone.”

For more information: