New integrated circuit degree to be designated first-level discipline at Chinese universities

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/31 15:44:04

Workers of HC Semitek, a leading Chinese LED chip maker, produce chips at its subsidiary in Yiwu in East China's Zhejiang Province. (Photo: Yang Hui/GT)

The academic degree committee under the State Council, China's cabinet, has voted through a proposal to establish an integrated circuit (IC) university program, which will be designated a first-level discipline, in a move which industry observers said represents the country's latest effort to nurture homegrown talent in the semiconductor industry amid a US-led crackdown on China's tech rise.

The degree's establishment will be officially announced after it is approved by the State Council.  

The microelectronics and solid electronics university program, which involves semiconductor courses, is currently designated a second-class discipline. 

Analysts said the establishment and first-class designation of the IC program will allow more universities to open colleges to train IC students, so as to make up for a drain in China's talent pool. Also, IC-related subjects will have access to more resources and funding.

In recent years, China has been fast-tracking the development of the domestic chip industry amid the US' efforts to cut chip supplies to Chinese tech giants like Huawei and ZTE.  And local talent in the field will be critical in aiding China's efforts to break through the US-led blockade. 

Roughly 30,000 students in China graduate from IC-related programs every year, according to an industry paper. But the talent gap in China is now estimated to be 300,000, and is projected to rise as demand for chips expands, according to Xu Wei, secretary-general of the Shanghai IC Industry Association. 

Fudan University is one of many Chinese universities that have started preparing to offer IC programs. It is working toward introducing an IC Science and Engineering degree, focusing on core engineering issues in IC design, manufacturing, packing and testing.

Global Times


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