China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that it has approved applications by 180 colleges and universities to set up new AI-related majors for undergraduate students in 2020. This will expand the number of universities providing to 225 across the country, compared to just 35 a year earlier.
Artificial intelligence has become the fastest expanding discipline at mainland Chinese universities, as the country charges ahead with its ambitions to become a global leader in the field and tries to attract more talent to drive its future technology plans.
China wants to become the global AI leader by 2030, but it can’t realize its ambitions unless the severe shortage of high technology talent is met.
According to a report released by technology research firm International Data Corp (IDC) and tech media outlet qbitai.com in December, more than 60% of AI professionals surveyed found the implementation of AI systems “very difficult” under the current circumstances.
Education has been at the forefront of efforts for China to boost its AI industry, and 2019 saw the first batch of top universities accepting students for dedicated studies.
Technology majors are a focus of China’s MOE and in 2019 it approved applications by 138 universities to offer new data science and big data technology majors, and 80 universities received approval to offer smart manufacturing engineering degrees.
A key consideration of the MOE’s policy is to “foster a closer tie” between talent training and economic development and it is allowing universities to dynamically adjust their admissions and curiculumn based on business demands in their local areas.
In 2017, the Chinese government created a detailed road map for AI, which involves keeping pace with leading AI technology and applications by 2020, making major breakthroughs by 2025, and becoming the world leader in AI by 2030.