China’s Ministry of Education unveils five-year AI training program for universities
According to a report in the China Daily, the China’s Ministry of Education launched a five-year Artificial Intelligence (AI) talent training program on 3 April to meet the growing demand for AI experts. As part of the plan, China will train at least 500 teachers and 5,000 students in artificial intelligence at top universities over the next five years.
The International AI Training Program for Chinese Universities is operating in Peking University. Government, companies, and universities, including the Ministry of Education, Sinovation Ventures, a Chinese technology investment firm, and Peking University, are part of the program.
Under the program, eminent AI experts will be invited to train the first 100 teachers and 300 students and explore an appropriate framework for AI education. Faculty includes Turing-Award-winning computer scientist and IBM professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, John Edward Hopcroft and Chinese AI expert Li Kaifu. Professor Hopcroft has been involved in teaching AI in China for a decade and he will teach a course at Peking University on "deep networks".
One hundred and six teachers from 49 universities are participating in the first round of training at Peking University. The curriculum includes the latest AI theories and practices.
The State Council of China laid out a national AI strategy in 2017, with the aim of growing the country’s core AI industries to a scale of over 1 trillion Yuan (USD 150 billion; a 100 times increase over the 2016 number), driving related industries to exceed more than 10 trillion Yuan by 2030. Talent development is a key focus area in the strategy.
China Daily quotes a report from Goldman Sachs which says that while China accounts for over half of the new AI projects in the world, it has merely 5 per cent of the global AI talent pool.
Xu Tao, director of the International Cooperation and Exchanges Department at the Ministry of Education said that talent shortage is becoming a bottleneck in China’s AI development. Ten Chinese universities have set up AI-related majors. But still many graduates lack practical operational skills in AI and are unable to meet employers’ requirements.
The Ministry will improve the AI discipline systems in universities by establishing AI majors and upgrading AI to a first-level subject. In the future, the Ministry of Education also plans to cooperate with American universities, offer scholarships for students who apply for overseas study and form an alliance to boost China-US educational exchanges in artificial intelligence.
Tian Gang, vice principal of Peking University said, "This year, Peking University took the initiative by providing master's degrees in AI innovation in order to train a new generation of AI talents. The training program will hopefully integrate education and industry resources from home and abroad to develop a universally recognized education system with Chinese characteristics.”