Data Futures Scholarship launched by Malaysian Minister of Communications and Multimedia.



Heriot-Watt University Malaysia launched the Data Futures Scholarship, a three-year scholarship programme worth RM2.6 million, which will encourage students to pursue a degree in data science.

The programme, which is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt and three industry players – Experian, PPG Coatings Sdn Bhd and Fusionex International – and strongly supported by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Department of International Trade, British High Commission, was launched on Friday June 28.

On hand to witness this auspicious event was Yang Berhormat Gobind Singh Deo, Malaysia's Minister of Communications and Multimedia, as the guest-of-honour.

“The World Economic Forum estimates that whilst 75 million existing roles may decline by 2022, it was also projected that 133 million new roles will emerge as smart technologies are disrupting most if not all industries. These emerging roles are related to Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Software Development, Digital Transformation and not least, Cybersecurity.

I welcome this gesture by the University to contribute to the educational needs of our local students in order for them to continue honing their skills and knowledge. While we are not short on talent, it is a fact that there are needy students who may be unable to continue their education due to a lack of funds or other factors. This is a great boost for local tech talent development

Gobind Singh Deo, Malaysia's Minister of Communications and Multimedia

“Data has become the new 'currency' in today's world, and there is an increasing demand for data professionals who are able to decipher all the data in order to create value for the organisation,” explained Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost and Chief Executive Officer of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia. In fact, data scientists are said to hold “the sexiest job of the 21st century” in an article by Harvard Business Review.

The scholarship programme targets high-achieving and deserving students interested in pursuing the BSc (Hons) Statistical Data Science at the university. “Heriot-Watt has a solid reputation in the fields of data science and artificial intelligence. This, coupled with our strong collaboration with industry, has allowed us to produce industry-relevant curricula as well as graduates. The partnership with renowned names in the industry is, therefore, a timely step forward, both for Heriot-Watt and Malaysia,” said Mushtak.

Offering 100% and 50% fee waivers, the scholarship programme will be available beginning from the university's September 2019 intake. To be eligible, students need to achieve a minimum of two As and one B with an A in Mathematics in their A-Levels or STPM.

The BSc (Hons) Statistical Data Science is a three-year programme that is accredited by the Royal Statistical Society, UK. The programme provides a strong foundation on statistical modelling and prepares students for a future career as a Data Analyst or Data Scientist. Additionally, student will have the opportunity to receive up to four Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA) exemptions.

Over the past two decades, the world has witnessed revolutionary changes in how people, the public and private sectors connect through technology. Compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth Industrial revolution is evolving at an exponential pace rather than a linear pace, and talent is playing a vital part in this transformation. As a vital part of leading Malaysia's digital economy forward, MDEC is committed to supporting initiatives that increase the nation's talent pool.

Dr Karl Ng, MDEC's Data Economy Director

The event came together with the assistance of UK's Department of International Trade. Ms Deborah Clarke, the Country Director of the department emphasised on the importance of data.

Big data and data analytics are vital to digital growth. However this will only be possible if we have people with the right skills to fill key roles. Without the right talent pool, Malaysia's ability to capitalise on the big data revolution will be constrained. I am therefore delighted that one of the UK's leading universities, Heriot-Watt and its partners are launching a new scholarship programme to address the digital skills gap in Malaysia.

Ms Deborah Clarke, Country Director, UK's Department of International Trade

The launching was held during the Data Futures Forum 2019, which was hosted by Heriot-Watt University Malaysia. Themed “Shaping Our Future Together – Towards a Data-enabled Society”, the forum was moderated by Dr Alistair Wallis, from the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia.

The forum, which explored the potentials and challenges of data science, was participated by an expert panel of speakers. These included Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, Provost and CEO of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, Dr Karl Ng, Director of Data Economy, MDEC, Ong Kian Yew, Director of Enterprise and Public Sector, Fusionex International, Ms Chua Chai Ping, Site Leader, Experian and Ms Ooi Ai Ling, Senior IT Manager from Data Analytics Centre of Excellence, PPG Coatings Sdn Bhd. The event also featured workshops for 240 students on a variety of STEM topics.