UM Launches Five New Undergraduate Programme to Nurture Interdisciplinary Professionals
Chinese Text | Ella Cheong
Photo | Editorial Board with some photos provided by the interviewees
Professional and skilled workers provide momentum for social progress. As the best, and the only public comprehensive, university in Macao, the University of Macau (UM) will launch five new bachelor’s degree programmes in the 2019/2020 academic year to respond to the needs for social development and technological transformation. The programmes aim to nurture innovative and interdisciplinary professionals for various industries in Macao. In this article, we interview practitioners from different industries to solicit their views on the new programmes.
New Programmes Respond to Needs for Social Development
On 18 February 2019, the Chinese government released The Outline of the Strategies for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. According to the document, professional and skilled workers are encouraged to integrate themselves into the development of the Greater Bay Area. As Macao is one of the cities in this area, UM as a public university has the responsibility to nurture high-calibre professionals for various industries in China and Macao. To respond to the demand for interdisciplinary professionals prepared to contribute to technological transformation, in the 2019/2020 academic year UM will launch five new bachelor’s degree programmes.
UM Launches Five New Undergraduate Programme to Nurture Interdisciplinary Professionals for Macao
These programmes are: Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Programme; Bachelor of Education in Integrated Science Programme; Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics Programme; as well as Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics and Chemistry Programme and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (Statistics and Data Science) Programme. The programmes aim to nurture professionals prepared to fulfill different needs of Macao and contribute to the development of China with the latest technologies.
Growing Demand for IT and Business Professionals in Macao
The Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics programme aims to nurture professionals who can take up challenges in a complex business environment with an interdisciplinary mindset and problem-solving skills. The programme is suitable for secondary school graduates from all streams (arts/science/commerce). Graduates of the programme will be equipped with knowledge in business management and skills in IT application and data analytics, and can pursue a career in the private or public sectors.
The Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics programme aims to nurture professionals who can take up challenges in a complex business environment with an interdisciplinary mindset and problem-solving skills.
Ip Sio Kai, deputy general manager of the Bank of China Macau Branch, says that with the emergence of new business practices and models like smart banking, unmanned banking, and virtual reality banking, there is a huge demand for professionals with both IT and business knowledge. UM’s Bachelor of Science in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics programme and the financial industry can jointly build a system for collaboration between industry, universities, and research institutes. ‘The industry is happy to provide a platform for UM students to put their knowledge into practice and develop their careers,’ says Ip.
Nurturing Well-rounded Science Professionals
The Bachelor of Education in Integrated Science programme is structured to provide training in science education by integrating knowledge in the areas of physics, chemistry, and biology. Its foundation is centred on integrated science with specialisation in physics, chemistry or biology. The goal of the programme is to nurture qualified junior and senior secondary school teachers in Macao. Graduates of the programme will be qualified to become teachers, academic researchers, technicians, science journalists, or employees in the engineering and manufacturing industries, as well as government departments.
Kou Kam Fai, principal of Pui Ching Middle School (Macao), says that in the past secondary school graduates wishing to pursue a career in science education could only choose one subject from among physics, chemistry, and biology, at universities in neighbouring areas, and they were unable to pursue a degree that would prepare them to become well-rounded science teachers. ‘UM’s Bachelor of Education in Integrated Science programme will help to fill the gap,’ says Kou. He contends that the career prospects of teachers in Macao are quite good. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, future education should aim to develop students’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, and meta-learning. Many high schools in mainland China have included artificial intelligence into their curriculum. In addition, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau has launched pilot programmes to promote the importance of applying knowledge and skills in a practical context. They demonstrate the importance of having well-rounded science teachers in Macao. Moreover, thanks to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, there continues to be high levels of demand for well-rounded science teachers.
Rosy Career Prospects in Professions Related to Scientific Testing
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics and Chemistry programme provides students with comprehensive training in the foundations of physics and chemistry, with a focus on interdisciplinary applications. The scope of study encompasses various scientific and engineering disciplines (materials science, environmental science, biomedical science and engineering, electronics, mechanical and manufacturing engineering) as well as content related to global challenges such as energy production, health and well-being, food safety, and the use of natural resources. Graduates can pursue a career in science, engineering, research, and education-related fields, such as in government departments, public institutions, laboratories and testing facilities, hospitals, microelectronics or optoelectronics companies, petroleum and chemical industries, food industry, and universities.
The Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics and Chemistry programme provides students with comprehensive training in the foundations of physics and chemistry, with a focus on interdisciplinary applications.
Ma Chi Ngai, president of the Administrative Committee of the Science and Technology Development Fund, says that environmental facilities, testing facilities, and pharmaceutical companies in Macao welcome those who have graduated from overseas universities with a degree in related fields, adding that they have hired professionals from outside Macao to fill this gap. Macao’s higher education and research institutes have accumulated a lot of experience in this area and at this moment possess the right conditions to nurture their own professionals. He is pleased to see the launch of the Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics and Chemistry programme, adding that it can fill the gap in higher education in Macao and nurture professionals in this field. Graduates of the programme will have great scope for development, whether they decide to pursue basic research or work as industry practitioners.
Huge Demand for Bioinformatics Professionals
The Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics programme integrates the studies of biology, health sciences, information technology, and computer science, in order to nurture professionals in the area of bioinformatics. These professionals will become an important part of the smart city development of Macao. Graduates of the programme can pursue a career related to biomedical, pharmaceutical or biotechnological sciences in the medical sector. They can work as researchers at universities, research institutes, hospitals, or companies, or become directors of science departments, regulatory officials, inspectors, and administrators.
The Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics programme integrates the studies of biology, health sciences, information technology, and computer science.
Chong Hong Heng, president of the Macau Association of Precision Medicine, says that with the development of high-throughput sequencing, the accumulation of big data in biomedical sciences, and the intersection of various academic disciplines, the bioinformatics industry has seen many new opportunities for development. This new environment will pave the way for new breakthroughs in biomedical sciences, human health, the development of new pharmaceutical products, and environmental protection. Studies of the career prospects of bioinformatics professionals, market surveys, and data from the recruitment process all show that there is a huge global demand for bioinformatics professionals in both academia and industry. Chong praises UM for launching the Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics programme, adding that the programme will help to promote research and precision medicine development in Macao.
Welcoming the Future of Big Data
The Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (Statistics and Data Science) programme will equip students with solid knowledge in mathematics and professional skills in statistical analysis and data science management, to meet the demand for talent in the field. Graduates can pursue a career in statistics, data science, or information technology, working as professionals of data science and statistical analysis, decision analysis, market research, finance, information management or business analysis, in government departments or service industries.
The ability to collect, dig, connect, analyse, and utilise data has become a criterion to evaluate the overall competitiveness of a country.
There is a great demand for big data professionals in various industries thanks to the increasing importance attached by China to technological advances and the development led by the Greater Bay Area. Chen Wu, chairman of China Telecom Macau, says that the company has a huge demand for professionals with knowledge of mathematics, statistical analysis, and data science and management, for several reasons. First, telecommunications companies in Macao have just begun to make use of big data. Second, in an era of internet economics, data are a new factor of production, as well as a basic and strategic resource. The ability to collect, dig, connect, analyse, and utilise data has become a criterion to evaluate the overall competitiveness of a country. Therefore, there is enormous potential for big data application in Macao and the city will need many big data professionals.