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) launched its Data Science courses in 2014, it expected most interest to come from IT professionals and mathematicians. But such is the ongoing enterprise appetite for data and analytics skills, that students also included engineers, psychologists, health researchers, property valuers, government employees, accountants, scientists, and finance and marketing professionals.

If your passion is data, irrespective of whether you are a programmer or not, you will benefit from, be involved in, and enjoy your way through this program. It has been designed with the collaboration of industry experts to cater for the right skillset and attitude of a data professional.
Abhishek Vinuth from Enzen Australia

Abhishek Vinuth
Business Data Consultant at ENZEN Australia

Since that initial intake, the number of students completing the Master of Data Science has grown to 150 students in 2019. There are a further 44 students completing their Graduate Certificate in Data Science, with many expected to continue their studies with the diploma and master’s program.

Data Science Program Director at UniSA, Dr Malgorzata Korolkiewicz, says that breadth and depth of professional experience is delivering the university a better understanding of what different organisations and industries are looking to do with data.

“UniSA’s Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Data Science programs were designed to build solid foundations in data science and provide students the industry-grade tools and techniques needed to turn enterprise data into insight and action,’’ Dr Korolkiewicz says.

With the courses built in partnership with SAS, students have access to SAS’ leading edge analytics platforms. SAS certification for graduates ensure that candidates emerge as fully fledged and highly employable data scientists.

Bridging the skills gap

Demand for insights from big data is strong and continues to rise.

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

Commenting on the ongoing success of UniSA's collaboration, Ian Edwards, SAS' Head of SAS Academic Outreach in Australia says:

“SAS’ ongoing partnership with the University of South Australia is one of our most significant academic relationships in Australia. Supporting the university's Master of Data Science program for over six years with the SAS Joint Certificate Program has allowed both UniSA and SAS to recognise those students’ who have developed industry-ready knowledge and skills to use data science techniques alongside SAS technology, to analyse and visualise expansive data, identify trends and use this insight to develop data science strategies.

"With these business-ready skills, UniSA Master of Data Science graduates are well-placed to secure one of the many exciting data scientists and analytics career opportunities offered by businesses in Australia and internationally.”

UniSA Professor and Head of School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, Brenton Dansie, says the university is keen to continue building partnerships with organisations looking to boost their workforce capability in data science.

“We have been delighted by the outcomes that the program is achieving. Feedback from companies and government organisations that have employed our graduates has been very positive with some employers recruiting a number of our graduates.”

Business Data Consultant at ENZEN Australia, Abhishek Vinuth, who graduated from UniSA with his Master of Data Science in 2017, says he was initially drawn to the program due to his passion for the mechanics of dealing with big data. Coming from a music background rather than a programming one, Vinuth took the plunge at UniSA as it was one of the first universities in Australia to offer a master’s degree in data science – designed in conjunction with SAS and IAPA professionals.

“If your passion is data, irrespective of whether you are a programmer or not, you will benefit from, be involved in, and enjoy your way through this program. It has been designed with the collaboration of industry experts to cater for the right skillset and attitude of a data professional.”

The current group of students engaged in the program balances experience and maturity - the average student age is 29. Like Vinuth, many people undertaking the courses are employed professionals hailing from a broad mix of disciplines.

Hands-on approach wins kudos

The practical focus and hands-on access to the SAS platform help differentiate the UniSA courses from those offered by other institutions. The programs are delivering strong outcomes with program and teacher satisfaction rates over 80 and Graduate Outcomes Surveys reporting 'Good Teaching' scores above Australian national benchmarks.

At the conclusion of their program, UniSA data science students undertake a capstone course delivering additional professional development directly linked to their industry partners to solve problems and build communications skills and the acumen to work with domain experts.

Professor Dansie says that UniSA will continue to promote its Data Science courses to overseas students. Currently, 35 percent of the program’s students are international students.

Challenge

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

Solution

UniSA accepts cohorts for its Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Data Science which are underpinned by SAS analytics and SAS certification for successful graduates.

Benefits

  • Data science rather than business analytics focus attracts candidates from broad range of professional fields.
  • 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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