AI courses in high demand at Dutch universities

Lecture Hall
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Dutch universities are seeing significant growth in the number of students who want to study artificial intelligence in the coming academic year. At some educational institutions, the number of applications doubled compared to the current academic year. Interest in related courses, like data science and business analytics, is also on the rise, NOS reports.

Some universities can not cope with the growth, and are putting a brake on the number of admissions. Five of the six universities offering AI courses are limiting the number of students they take in. The University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Groningen are all setting a strict limit on the number of students that can study AI. Utrecht University wants to tighten up the selection criteria for the program.

The growing interest among students goes hand-in-hand with the excellent job prospects for graduated AI specialists. The financial sector, manufacturing industry, healthcare sector, government, and startups from all corners of the economy are all in need of AI specialists. Using algorithms on large amounts of data can spectacularly improve design and production processes. 

The number of available lecturers in particular creates capacity problems, Jeroen Fokker, informatics program director at Utrecht University, said to NOS. "We plan to be selective. A larger lecture room is still possible in the first year. But further on in the course more and more individual training is needed. The number of lecturers is not growing fast enough to keep up with the students."

A total of 700 students applied to enroll in the UvA and VU's joint Master's program on AI. "We can accommodate about 180 new students", UvA professor Maarten de Rijke said to NOS. "But if there is such a demand for students with that background, and there are so many students who want to study this topic at the same time, then we have to increase. We offered 250 students a place, but we're actually hoping that not all of them will stand on the sidewalk come September and that some will do something different or were unable to get their finances in order."

Policy makers an scientists are deeply concerned about the European Union falling behind the United States and China when it comes to AI, according to the broadcaster. In the US, tech giants are investing billions of euros into AI, and the country is using attractive research programs to lure EU AI talents away. China wants to be the AI world leader n 2030. 

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