Several Chinese universities have launched weekend “micromajor” courses in hopes of giving their students an edge in an increasingly competitive job market.
Among the institutions launching short courses to supplement undergraduate degree programs are: Technical University of Guangdongthat encourages civil engineering students to pursue micromajors in fields such as artificial intelligence and machine automation, and Hunan University of Technology and Business, which lists micromajors in areas such as green financial technology, metaverse technology and digital carbon neutrality.
Both institutions announced the initiatives in May, with: Beijing Universitythe Communication University of China and Wuhan University of Science and Technology among other things to announce similar initiatives in recent months.
Based on public course information, at least three of these institutions – the Communication University of China† Technical University of Guangdong and Wuhan University of Science and Technology – schedule their micromajors for weekends.
He Jianian, deputy dean of the School of Civil and Transportation Engineering in Guangdong, described micromajors as a “flexible talent development plan,” different from a minor or second-degree program.
“It combines three to seven core courses in a specific area, quickly giving students a deep and comprehensive understanding of the latest technological advances,” he said.
In Guangdong, students are eligible for additional courses if they pass all their modules in the first semester. If their application is successful, students study for their major major on weekdays and micromajor on weekends, receiving a certificate at the end of the program.
The annual intake of about 50 students represents about 10 percent of the school’s total cohort.
“As far as we know, students are motivated to use their weekends to study more about AI, big data, and automation, which they find meaningful,” said Dr. Hey. “But we keep in regular contact with them to make sure they have a balance between study and life.”
Employability is an important driver. With unprecedented numbers of college leavers entering the job market – the annual cohort of graduates is set to pass the 10 million – Chinese institutions are under great pressure until improve the employment rate of graduates†
dr. He suggested that micromajors could give his best graduates an edge.
“There is a growing demand in the civil engineering sector for ‘compound talents’ who have both architectural knowledge and [expertise in] advanced technologies such as automation, robotics, computer science and artificial intelligence,” he said.
Davy Cheng, Founding Dean of the School of Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong‘s Shenzhen campus, said there was a broader push to equip graduates with a wider range of perspectives, drawing in his department’s case from areas such as artificial intelligence, biomedical technology and healthcare economics.
“The traditional category of subjects in China’s medical education system needs to evolve and transform; otherwise, in the digital age, we don’t have the precise generation of doctors to practice West-meets-East medicine,” he said.