"This is the profession of the future. If you really want to contribute to positive changes in the world, you should study Data Science and AI." Lecturer Peter Becker is very enthusiastic about the new degree programme that starts in September. And he is not the only one. Companies are also eagerly awaiting the first graduates. And with the current number of registrations of high school students, pre-university students and senior secondary vocational education students, we already have enough to fill two classes.

In the Netherlands, we are all producing more and more data. A growing number of people are also able to use these, thanks to new technologies. As a result, the demand for good data scientists and AI experts has increased enormously. This was revealed by a labour market survey and from an earlier poll of companies. Peter Becker continues: "Until now, data science has only been available as a study at research universities. Companies have told us that they are also very keen on employing university of applied sciences graduates. People with practical training, who can work hands on. So I dare to say that students who start in September will have a job waiting for them in four years. The labour market will still be tight then."

Companies are eager to employ university of applied sciences graduates as new staff members

How do you tell students how much fun data science is? Peter: "A fancy example of course is the self-driving car as the pinnacle of robotics, which drives solely on the basis of data. Closer to home, we can think of an ice cream seller. He wants to make the best estimate of how much ice cream he should buy. If he doesn't, he may buy too little for a hot summer and too much for a rainy, cold summer. Of course, as a data scientist you don't control the weather. But you do learn which factors you can use to make a reasonable prediction. A data scientist is someone who makes predictions based on data."

Step by step

People often ask Peter how hard the degree programme is. "Data science may sound very difficult. When you start the Applied Data Science and AI programme, we begin mathematics at a HAVO 5 (senior general secondary education) level. Your subject cluster doesn't matter that much, as long as you have passed Mathematics A or B. During the degree programme, you will learn mathematics and programming, among other things. We build up the programme step by step. You will also learn subjects such as organisational science, professional skills and, very importantly, law and ethics. If you do your assignments every week, watch your videos and attend classes, you should be able to complete the degree programme without any real problems."

Applied Data Science and AI is an attractive degree programme for people who want to help create a better world

"The new degree programme is attractive to young people who like puzzles. Who like solving problems. Who want to create a better world. We are looking for young people with a vision for the future. With good communication and research skills. And yes, you should also enjoy working with computers. The degree programme also includes some ICT. You will use this to work on your vision of the future." 

"When I look at the applications, I see people who for example hesitated between Business Administration and Applied Data Science. But they did end up choosing our degree programme. I also see that over twenty percent of applicants are girls and women. Because data science is still relatively unknown, the students who apply are really motivated. They have done some research on the degree programme and made a deliberate choice."

Artificial intelligence

AI or artificial intelligence is an advanced form of data science. To apply AI, you need the use of data. AI systems can mimic humans in one area at a time. Peter Becker continues: "You won't find a self-driving car that also writes poetry. There are AI systems that can write poetry, but they don't drive cars. So don't be afraid that the systems will take over. The computer imitates what we teach it, but much faster and better than we can, because it processes information much faster. We call this machine learning. There is nothing scary about it."


What does get scary is when a system starts making decisions for you. The benefits scandal in the Netherlands (toeslagenaffaire) started with a system that began 'seeing' all sorts of things. Peter Becker continues: "We teach students to design good algorithms. You have to prevent such an algorithm from becoming a black box. You don't want to train a machine to come up with certain insights that you don't understand. The data you use to train the machine has to be purely representative of what you want to measure. If you train the algorithm with data on white men between the ages of 40 and 60, it will not create data on women of colour between the ages of 20 and 40. To build a proper algorithm, you must always consider the ethical and legal aspects. These are very important in our degree programme. In their projects, our students are always aware of the seven European Union directives that every data scientist must uphold."

Julia Boschman: 'This is really my kind of degree programme

Since she graduated from senior general secondary education, Julia Boschman spent two years looking for the right degree programme for her. "I had no idea what I wanted to do. Acting school also didn't work out. As an actress, I wanted to play the character of a data analyst. Then I thought: if I can't play a data analyst, why don't I become one?

She started to look into the profession of data scientist. That's when she discovered that The Hague University of Applied Sciences offers a degree programme at a university of applied sciences level. She attended the Orientation Programme and visited the Open Day with her parents. "My decision was quickly made. I registered for the Applied Data Science and AI degree programme."

Socially relevant

Why was she so interested in playing the role of data analyst? And why does she want to become a data scientist now? Julia: "It's a new profession in which there is a lot of room to develop and make society better. That really suits me. This is really the right degree programme for me."

"Artificial intelligence may sound somewhat mysterious. But I have discovered that it actually involves a lot of logic. By using AI, we can solve problems more easily. I have already met some lecturers and fellow students. In September I will start the Applied Data Science and AI degree programme. I'm really looking forward to it." 


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