Nanjing University trailblazes mandatory AI classes

Nanjing University has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative to introduce an artificial intelligence curriculum for all incoming students, as reported by the state-backed publication The Global Times. This makes it the first of China’s universities to make AI education mandatory, a key milestone in nurturing the next generation of leaders in the field as well as equipping all graduates for a changing job market.

The news comes two weeks after the Ministry of Education announced a plan to raise digital literacy across the nation by the end of the year. The plan aims to narrow the digital divide and accelerate the digital transformation of businesses.

The new curriculum from Nanjing University comprises a mandatory core course on AI fundamentals, complemented by various AI literacy and interdisciplinary courses integrating AI with an array of academic subjects. The classes aim to equip all students with a solid understanding of how AI can be harnessed in different contexts so that they can reap the technology’s rewards – and mitigate against its risks – no matter their speciality of choice.

The hope is that the initiative will also inspire students to find new ways of incorporating AI into other disciplines, launching new commercial opportunities. This aligns closely with the government’s objective of stimulating the private sector to develop industry-specific AI applications that can strengthen the nation as a whole, from the economy to national security.

As one of China’s top-ranking universities, Nanjing University could set a precedent for other universities to introduce similar curricula, fostering a competitive landscape in AI education. At present, at least 248 universities in China have introduced AI majors.


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