China’s universities to set up AI major to boost basic research


35 Chinese universities are expected to set up a major in Artificial Intelligence (AI), a milestone to mark the beginning of the country’s AI education in college, the Chinese Ministry of Education said.

The list includes some of the country’s leading universities like Zhejiang University, Tongji University, etc, Science and Technology Daily quoted the Ministry of Education(MOE) on Saturday as saying.

The ministry also approved AI-related majors. 101 universities are allowed to offer a robotics engineering major and 203 universities can offer data science and big data technology majors, the newspaper said.


This latest moves, as analysts point out, are aimed at boosting China’s ability in AI-related basic theory research, an area that the country, despite of being considered a global leader in AI application already, falls short of.

Research organizations and enterprises are the major force in driving the development of AI in China. Analysts noted that AI education in college will allow students to focus on AI basic theory research.

Certain products by AI companies have made China outstanding in the field, such as the translation app by Iflytek Co Ltd, Huang Chengqing, vice president of the Internet Society of China, told the Global Times on Sunday.

But AI education integrates AI with mathematics, statistics, physics, biology, psychology, and sociology.

Universities should focus on basic theory research, which is an area that China lacks, Huang said.

This is not the first time the MOE called for AI education on the collegiate level. In April 2018, the ministry issued an action plan to promote AI education in college, official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The plan states that universities in China will improve the AI discipline and should achieve breakthroughs in basic theory and key technology research by 2020. Chinese universities will become the core in building major global AI innovation centers by 2030, the report said.

China and the US dominate AI, a study published in January by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows.

Chinese organizations account for three of the four academic players featured in the top 30 patent applicants, with the Chinese Academy of Sciences ranking 17th with over 2,500 patent families, Xinhua quoted the WIPO said.


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