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Report looks at whether universities are producing graduates with the right data skills

Data graphic

Universities UK has published a report today looking at the extent to which universities are producing graduates with the right data analysis skills.

The report notes that, as organisations become more data driven, employers are looking for workers who are able to interpret data and to undertake basic analysis, as well as highly skilled data analysts. With businesses increasingly collecting and analysing data to enhance their productivity and policy makers considering how best to use data to transform public service delivery, the report considers whether university degree programmes are producing data-literate graduates.

The report’s findings include:

  • Undergraduates from a wide range of degree programmes acquire the basic technical skills needed to understand and analyse data
  • In recent years, the higher education sector has led a number of initiatives to expand data analysis teaching across subject areas
  • Demand for analysts cannot be simply addressed by producing more graduates from existing specialist courses
  • Ensuring the supply of analytical talent in the UK will also require changes in schools, as well as universities

Together with Nesta, Universities UK has also launched Analytic Britain, a policy briefing with a series of recommendations that includes: embedding data analysis in subjects across the school curriculum, boosting the business skills of university graduates with statistics and programming skills, and developing innovative training solutions to keep the skills of the analytic workforce fresh in the face of rapid technological change.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Chair of Universities UK Data Skills Steering Group and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “As the use of data increases, a sufficient supply of data skills becomes critical to the UK’s labour force. Therefore it is timely that we examine data skills provision at universities, considering what skills our graduates need to succeed in a range of sectors.

“To meet the current and future needs of the UK economy we must do more to embed data skills as an essential component of many degrees. To do so, we need to look across the sector at data skills provision, opportunities and challenges. I want this report to offer a point of guidance as we evaluate our course offerings and continue to train skilled and highly-employable graduates.”


  1. ​Universities UK report – Making the most of data: Data skills training in English universities

  2.  In recognition of reports of data skills shortages, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills asked Universities UK to review how data analytics skills are taught across different disciplines at English universities at undergraduate level. Universities UK’s research revealed that data skills can be acquired by students across a range of disciplines.

  3. Taken together, this report and Nesta’s report, Skills of the datavores: talent and the data revolution, set out a coherent picture of both the supply and the demand for data analysts and data-literate graduates. In a joint briefing statement in July 2015, Nesta and Universities UK will present findings, implications for policy makers, and recommendations.

Key Contacts

Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Media Relations Manager
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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