First bachelor in data science to launch at VUB


Starting next year, students at the Brussels university can add data science to their maths studies, a first for Flanders

Rising demand

Starting in the 2020-21 academic year, students at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) can choose to enrol in a bachelor degree programme in maths and data science. VUB is the first Flemish university to include data science in its maths programme.

The new diploma is being launched as a response to the rising demand for Stem (science, tech, engineering, maths) profiles, in particular maths and data specialists, which are urgently needed on today’s job market. This year, students can already incorporate mathematical aspects of data science in their curriculum.

The university announced the new course at its recent congress The Beautiful Impact of Mathematics in Society. “VUB continues to respond to society’s current needs by updating its degree options,” said Jan Danckaert, vice-rector of education and student policy. “We played such a pioneering role 40 years ago with our computer science programme, and with this new path we hope to repeat that.”

In the new programme, data science will be integrated into the existing mathematics degree. Alongside maths, the compulsory curriculum will include physics and elements of computer science such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Too few data scientists

Students will also be able to choose from a wide variety of optional modules such as digital health and education, allowing them to specialise further. Integrating data science in maths training is essential for the future, says maths professor Ann Dooms.

“There is a huge amount of data being generated today,” she said. “Storing, processing and analysing all this information is a major challenge for the future. Data scientists are working on this, but there are still too few of them. That’s what we want to tackle with this programme.”

In the framework of the Eutopia network, VUB is working closely with the Université de Cergy-Pontoise in Paris. The French university launched its own data science programme last year. As part of the collaboration, VUB students can complete the fourth and final year of their bachelor in Paris.