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AU to intensify IT research and education to meet society’s demand for digitisation specialists

Aarhus University is initiating a six-year effort to strengthen education and research within computer science, IT and data science to meet society’s future demand for digitisation specialists. The number of students on these programmes will be doubled and the research activities and staffing of these programmes will be expanded. This effort represents the first step in an amibitous strategic digitisation initiative which will make a major mark on Aarhus University in coming years.

2017.06.14 | Rikke Skovgaard Lindhard

Society’s future need for well-educated digitisation specialists is widely acknowledged and well-documented. For example, according to the Danish Business Authority, society will face a shortfall of up to 19,000 IT specialists in 2030 if the digitisation and automatisation of job functions continues as expected.


Aarhus University already possesses very strong internationally recognised digitisation and data science research environments at both the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics which support the computer science, IT and maths degree programmes. To help meet society’s future need and demand for IT expertise, the new strategic initiative will expand these degree programmes and the research environments at the two departments.


“As one of Denmark’s largest institutions of research and education, we bear a great responsibility to ensure that society is in the strongest possible position to adapt to the digital transformation. We are doing this by strengthening our graduates and the research which can and must contribute the necessary innovation and progress. With the expansion of our research and teaching programmes in the area of digitisation, we are making a serious commitment to meeting the large demand for digitisation specialists and data-based innovation, particularly in western Denmark,” explains Rector Brian Bech Nielsen.


More student places and increased research capacity

In 2016, 105 students graduated from natural sciences IT-related degree programmes at the Faculty of Science and Technology. The ambition of the new initiative is to double that number by 2025.


This will be achieved by increasing the annual intake of BSc students at the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Mathematics by 102 students and by establishing new data science BSc and MSc degree programmes at the Department of Mathematics. In addition, recruitment efforts will be intensified, and will target women and international students to a higher degree. 


“We’re not just going to produce more graduates, we also need to produce the very best, so we ensure the best match between degree programme, student and employer while also minimising drop-out rates. To provide high-quality education, we have to develop a strong research environment which can match the increased educational activity, provide the students with solid, research-based knowledge and at the same time maintain our very strong position,” explains Niels Christian Nielsen, dean of Science and Technology.


To accommodate a larger student body, teaching and research capacity will increase proportionately, and 24 academic positions are expected to be advertised at the two departments over the next four years. The first appointments will be made in 2018.


Research synergies with the university’s engineering initiative

The initiatives to strengthen the two departments are a natural extension of the initiatives to strengthen engineering programmes adopted by the board in June 2016. The number of students on engineering programmes with a digitisation aspect is expected to at least double, including information and communication technology, electronics, healthcare technology, computer technology and electrotechnology.



DKK 67.5 million from the senior management’s strategic funds (USM) will be allocated to the action area. Science and Technology will also contribute DKK 15 million from the faculty’s strategic funds.


The action area will unfold in the period 2018-2024, and is the first of four major digital action areas AU will implement successively over the coming years.


- Read more about the digitisation initiative



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