Lead Data Scientist

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Cheltenham, United Kingdom

Application Deadline

This role is to deliver statistical analysis, including modelling and other Advanced Analytics, to support a focused group of stakeholders from across UCAS. It will include the development of effective external outputs including data-driven publications.

Key accountabilities:

  • To deliver analysis, including statistical modelling and other Advanced Analytics where relevant, primarily for research purposes.
  • To adhere to and enhance UCAS’ data science standards.
  • To support development of effective external outputs, including research publications. (Examples of recent outputs include Annex D of the Reimagining UK admissions report, available on our website.)
  • To develop a strong understanding of UCAS data, including business rules for analysis.
  • To understand the wider education data landscape and recognise when third party data may be beneficial.
  • To prepare data for analysis, creating reusable datasets for exploration and modelling.
  • To engage with other members of the UCAS data science community, sharing insights and new analysis.
  • To mentor other data scientists.

Skills, qualifications, and experience:

  • Data science Experience with using statistical modelling for research, with experience of producing written research reports and/or educational data analysis desirable.
  • Experience with producing highly interpretable models with a focus on understanding independent variable effects.
  • Good working knowledge of programming in R (preferred) and/or Python (or equivalents) and the ability to write readable, efficient code.
  • Qualified to a high level in a numerate discipline, such as mathematics, statistics, computer science, operational research, data science, or a related field – evidenced through a Bachelor’s degree (or higher) or demonstrable experience.
  • Strong data manipulation skills.
  • Other Advanced Analytics techniques desirable. An ‘analytic mind set’ – including strong professional judgement in choosing analytic approaches that give efficiently-produced, high quality, actionable results.
  • A natural curiosity and drive to find things out that really matter from data.

Personal Attributes Planning and Communication

  • A motivated individual who 'owns’ and takes pride in their work.
  • A collaborative and inquisitive nature.
  • Previous experience in delivering complex analytics projects that produce high quality results.
  • Able to manage workload and manage expectations of key stakeholders.
  • Embraces agile methodology and works effectively in a self-organising team of data scientists.
  • Able to translate analysis into understandable and digestible insight and/or products that are accessible to a wide audience – including technical and non-technical users.

About UCAS

UCAS is at the heart of connecting people to higher education.

UCAS is the world’s leading shared admissions service for higher education. We provide application services for UK universities and colleges as well as delivering a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies and employers.

We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all of our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.

Business Unit description


The Operations Business Unit runs UCAS’ day-to-day frontline services. They include the Customer Experience Centre providing comprehensive high quality services to support applicants in their journey into university and other higher education provision.

They also include services to higher education providers, qualification matching, for instance to support a-level results day, IT service management, data and insights services and the business unit analyses, researches, develops and releases UCAS’ publications particularly at key points in the application cycle.

The Business Unit is responsible for running UCAS’ Confirmation and Clearing service and logistics related to key deadlines in the cycle.


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