University of South Australia spurs data science skills

Data science with SAS foundations draws strong demand and national interest

When the University of South Australia (UniSA) first launched its Data Science courses it expected the interest to come mainly from IT professionals or mathematicians. But such is the enterprise appetite for big data that the 75 people currently signed up for the course come from IT and maths as expected, but also include engineers, psychologists, scientists and finance and marketing professionals.

Data science will be the next evolution in information technology to have a profound impact on humanity. It will lead to a deeper understanding than ever before into cause and effect relationships between people and also within the world around us.

Matthew Lewis
Westpac employee enrolled in UniSA Master of Data Science course

Program director Dr Malgorzata Korolkiewicz says that breadth of experience is delivering the university a better understanding of what different organisations and professional groups are looking to do with data.

UniSA’s Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters in Data Science courses have each been designed to provide solid foundations in data science, and provide to students the industry-grade tools and techniques needed to turn enterprise data into insight and action.

A partnership with SAS, access to SAS’ leading edge analytics platforms and SAS certification for graduates of the program also ensures that students emerge as fully fledged and highly employable data scientists.

Bridging the skills gap

Enterprise demand for insights from big data is rising rapidly.

Westpac IT professional Matthew Lewis is studying for his UniSA Masters in Data Science says; “I believe data science will be the next evolution in information technology to have a profound impact on humanity. It will lead to a deeper understanding than ever before into cause and effect relationships between people and also within the world around us.

“Since commencing the degree, the business area I work for has recognised the benefits of deep dive analysis and set up a dedicated "insights analytics" team,” which Lewis has now joined.

The cohort of students engaged in the programme is mature and experienced – the median age is 39. Like Lewis the majority of people undertaking the courses are employed professionals but they hail from a broad mix of disciplines ranging from IT and computer science, through maths and engineering, and include candidates from banking and finance, marketing and health sciences.

The UniSA courses tackle the data science aspects of data mining, both in predictive modelling and unsupervised methods; customer analytics and social analytics.

Professor Andy Koronios, head of school of IT and mathematical sciences, says; “This course delivers the technical skills to analyse large amounts of data and also the insight to ensure that the right questions are asked of the data,” to gain incremental efficiencies, as well as to reveal and underpin new businesses and business models.

Hands-on approach wins kudos

Koronios says that UniSA is now looking to further promote its Data Science courses to overseas students. At present 8 per cent of candidates are international students.

The practical focus and hands-on access to the SAS platform helps differentiate the UniSA courses from those offered by a number of other institutions. At the conclusion of the UniSA program students undertake a capstone course delivering additional professional development, communications skills and the acumen to work with domain experts in order to operationalise the insights gleaned from enterprise data.

Challenge

To tackle the ballooning data scientist shortage by providing rigorous, practical and industry-grade skills to professionals.

Solution

UniSA has signed up the first three cohorts for its Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Masters in Data Science which is underpinned by SAS analytics and SAS certification for successful graduates.

Benefits

  • Data science rather than business analytics focus is attracting candidates from broad swathe of professional area.
  • Industry grade SAS platforms and certification supports rapid deployment of newly learned skills.
  • Course promotes critical data scientist-domain expert collaboration ensuring value in data is identified and liberated.
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