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Estonia to open first data science Master’s programme

Next year the University of Tartu in Estonia will be opening a new data science Master’s programme in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication. It is the first of its kind in the country and it is expected to educate 50 new highly skilled data science specialists by 2023. Estonia has also recently published a national AI acceleration strategy that includes a push in education and research activities.

Ott Velsberg, the Government Chief Data Officer said that the amounts of data gathered by both the public and private sectors has grown dramatically in the past ten years. “Thanks to current technologies the challenges don’t lie with gathering and saving masses of data anymore. Instead the question is what to do with the data and how to benefit from it,” said Velsberg. “The biggest challenge is how to use data effectively and ethically in business, politics, sciences and the society at large,” he added.

Since data analysis is increasingly common in many walks of life, Velsberg predicts a growing need for highly qualified data scientists. “Data scientists are valued highly because of their skills to solve complex problems. Since organizations have begun to realize they lack the necessary skills for gather, interpreting and processing data, they have started to look for specialists who can help with that,” explained Velsberg. Harvard Business Review recently named data scientist as the most attractive job position of the 21st century.

According to Professor Jaak Vilo, Head of the Institute of Computer Science at University of Tartu, there hasn’t been a holistic curriculum so far that would give a complete education in data mining, visualisation, machine learning and fields of application. University of Tartu and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication have signed a contract to educate 50 new highly skilled specialists by 2023, who can further specialise either in business or the sciences.

Data science is tightly connected to artificial intelligence and machine learning as most automated decisions will be made with the help of models trained with data. Vilo explained: “Data science is a wide discipline that includes how data is created and unified, statistical analysis, data visualisation and applying methods of machine learning and AI.”

First admissions will be held in 2020. While students with previous studies in IT are expected to mainly enrol, the programme also welcomes people with a background in other disciplines.

UPDATE: the new programme will require at least B1 level of Estonian.

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