Hundreds of new college majors on cutting-edge science will be available to college freshmen, which is expected to help narrow China's talent gap in high-tech fields, expert said.
The Ministry of Education approved in March a total of 2,311 new majors, including those on data science, robotic engineering, artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber security. Many will be available the coming fall term, chinanews.com reported.
A data science and big data technology major will be available in 250 universities and colleges in China, including Nankai University, Tongji University and Xiamen University.
A major in robotic engineering will also be available in 60 schools.
"The country is experiencing a technological transformation, and the new majors echo the trend," Xie Zuoxu, an education professor at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday.
It is estimated that the AI industry will grow past 150 billion yuan ($23.4 billion) by 2020, which is also expected to drive a growth of a trillion yuan in related industries, West China City Daily said.
A talent gap of 1.5 million exists in fields such as big data, AI and cloud computing. That could soar to 9.5 million by 2050, the report said.
Taking Xiamen University as an example, six big data research institutes in different fields including healthcare, material and higher education have been established in the past years, but talent is still urgently needed, Xie said.
"Research institutes in different fields and universities should focus on cultivating talent and teachers. However, this project takes time and cannot be achieved overnight," Xie added.
Increasing innovation is the higher education institutions' primary task, according to a notice on the 13th Five-Year plan (2016-20) released by the Ministry of Education in 2016.
Colleges and universities should cultivate strategic scientists and talent in high-tech fields and wherever a talent shortage exists, it read.
About 9.75 million high school seniors will take China's college entrance examinations from Thursday to Saturday.