AI now most favored major at universities

Artificial intelligence has become the most popular new major at Chinese universities for the second year in a row amid the country’s drive to build a strong AI talent pool. The subject’s popularity is far above that of any other new major.

Many prestigious universities-including Tsinghua University in Beijing, Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Central South University in Changsha, Hunan province-are offering the new major.

Other popular majors include intelligent manufacturing and engineering, offered by 84 universities as a major, and data science and big data technology, at 62 universities.

According to a plan issued by the ministry to promote AI education, universities will improve the AI discipline, make breakthroughs in basic theory and key technology research and become core forces for major global AI innovation by 2030.

Public affairs management was the least preferred major last year, having been dropped by 21 universities, followed by information management, dropped by 16 universities, and electronic information science and technology, with 15 cancellations.

The main reason for universities to open or remove certain majors has to do with the ability of graduates to find employment, said Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of online education portal EOL.

An oversupply of undergraduate management majors with no work experience appears to have affected the field’s attractiveness, Chen said. Also, those students may not understand that it can take years of working through the ranks to reach a good-paying management position even with an undergraduate degree.