Dataiku Partners with the Brilliant Club to Boost University Access for Disadvantaged Students
LONDON, Sept. 21, 2023 — As part of its AI for Good program, Ikig.AI, Dataiku is collaborating with The Brilliant Club in an effort to increase the representation of students from less advantaged backgrounds in prestigious universities. The joint project has been shortlisted in the “best use of data for non-profit” category at the 2023 DataIQ awards, which honours both companies and individuals that have demonstrated excellence in the data industry.
The Brilliant Club is a UK-wide charity that mobilizes the Ph.D. community to support less advantaged students in gaining access to the most competitive universities and succeeding when they get there. The charity exists because students from the least advantaged backgrounds have just a 3 in 100 chance of going to the most competitive universities, compared with 33 in 100 for the most advantaged (UCAS Multiple Equality Measure). The obstacles don’t disappear when they enter university: disadvantaged students are also three times more likely to miss out on a 1st or 2:1 degree (Office for Students).
The team at The Brilliant Club were already collecting data responsibly from over 70,000 Scholars Programme student records (which included demographics, engagement data, school, and tutor-level information.) They then harnessed Dataiku’s predictive modeling capabilities to understand how to better support their students, while also benefiting from Dataiku’s onboarding training and the assistance of a volunteer Dataiku data scientist using Ikig.AI days for pro-bono work.
“The Brilliant Club and Dataiku collaboration is a prime example of how AI for good can drive systemic change,” said Gregory Herbert, Senior Vice President and EMEA General Manager at Dataiku. “Via the Ikig.AI programme, volunteer data scientists from Dataiku have worked closely with data scientists from The Brilliant Club’s Research and Impact department to explore how the Dataiku platform can be used to generate real and actionable insights. This was made possible because, as an organisation, The Brilliant Club is well-equipped with responsibly collected data to reap swift benefits from the Ikig.AI partnership.”
Working with the program management team, The Brilliant Club built a predictive model that outputs a ‘support rating’ for each student. This was done by building gradient-boosted decision trees (81% accuracy) that produced a high, medium, or low score, indicating a student’s likelihood of not submitting their final assignment.
“Dataiku offered the unique opportunity to not only allow us to build a complex model using Python coding, but also to set it up in such a way that non-specialist colleagues could re-run the model using the visual flow and the ability to upload data easily,” said Dr Lauren Bellaera, Chief Impact and Strategy Officer, The Brilliant Club. “Had we not had access to the platform, we would not have been able to re-run the model in the same way, as it would have taken a significant amount of staff time when data science capacity within the organisation is limited and needed on other projects.”
This project has strengthened The Brilliant Club’s approach to how it uses data to inform decision-making and improve service delivery. Dataiku’s model has been integrated into The Brilliant Club’s UK-wide program work that reaches more than 16,000 students per year. The findings have also been used to create guidance and training for more than 400 Ph.D. tutors who deliver The Scholars Programme annually.
The proportion of students who submit their final assignment has increased since The Brilliant Club integrated ‘support scores’ into its program delivery cycle. Since implementing the support-rating in spring 2022, this increase in final assignment submission has translated to more than 150 extra students per year completing the challenging, university-style assignment, gaining important transferable skills and knowledge in the process.
As more students have completed the program by submitting their assignments, a greater number have had the opportunity to attend a graduation trip at one of the UK’s most competitive universities. The Brilliant Club will continue to use the model to shape its program delivery, embedding further measures to support students with a high ‘support score’ this academic year.
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