As China faces a growing bottleneck of integrated circuit talent, a new move is expected to ease it significantly in the future.
On July 30, the meeting of the State Council's degree committee voted to approve the proposal that the integrated circuit major will be a first-class discipline and will be independent of the first-class discipline of electronic science and technology, according to the Securities Times.
The move comes as China is facing a growing gap of integrated circuit talent.
According to the White Paper on China's IC Industry Talent (2017-2018), the total demand for talent for the IC industry by 2020 is 720,000, and the total number of talents in 2017 was 400,000.
But the total supply of IC graduates each year is only about 30,000, creating a talent gap of about 300,000.
Against this backdrop, over the past years, there have been frequent voices for the establishment of a first-level discipline related to integrated circuits in China, but it has been unable to take shape due to various ongoing controversies.
On October 8, 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said it would "promote the establishment of a first-level discipline in integrated circuits and further strengthen the demonstration microelectronics institute."
Previously, Fudan University announced in November 2019 that the university will take the lead in 2020 to carry out "integrated circuit science and engineering" doctoral degree authorization of the first level of academic disciplines in 2020 pilot construction and start doctoral student enrollment.
China's discipline list is divided into three levels: discipline categories, first-level disciplines, and second-level disciplines.
Discipline categories and first-level disciplines are the basic basis for degree authorization and discipline management, as well as for degree-granting units to confer degrees and cultivate talents in China.
Among them, the first-level disciplines are collections of disciplines with a common theoretical foundation or relatively consistent research fields, which are adjusted every 10 years.
The Securities Times quoted Huang Letian, an associate professor at the University of Electronic Science and Technology, as saying that previously integrated circuits were scattered among various disciplines, so their fundings were actually not distributed directly, and in many cases, those fundings were not available at all.
"Particularly for some schools that are weak in integrated circuits, so the corresponding faculty construction will also be limited," said Huang.
Huang believes that if the integrated circuit becomes a first-class discipline, it is equivalent to single out the integrated circuit discipline into the assessment and funding plan, and its development space is much larger than before.