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How will BSSc Programme in Data Science and Policy Studies (DSPS) prepare students for their future and enable them to drive the future? Our Programme encourages students to ask big questions about our fast changing society and come up with bold answers to solve social and policy problems. Through our meticulously designed curriculum that balances quantitative and qualitative training, students will be equipped with essential knowledge and skills to extract insightful information from large datasets and big data to design innovative, technology-enabled, and evidence-based policy solutions to complex problems.

DSPS also helps students to connect theories and practice, and foster academia–industry collaboration through experiential learning activities. Leveraging CUHK’s research capacity and broad networks in policy studies, world-renowned scholars as well as policy and decision makers from the private and public sectors will be invited to share their knowledge and experience. Moreover, students are required to participate in internship programmes and capstone projects to apply what they have learnt to solve real-world problems. Students will also gain global perspective by participating in overseas exchange programmes to learn the latest international developments and connect with talents from top universities around the world.

The all-round training will enable our graduates to pursue a wide spectrum of careers in governments, local and international NGOs, policy think tanks, consulting firms, multinational corporations, technology and science sectors.

Supporting Our Society with Data

Numbers can tell the stories of our society, unveiling social problems and highlighting trends. The Faculty of Social Science of CUHK has launched a new undergraduate programme —Data Science and Policy Studies—in 2019. The programme focuses on linking up the two interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields of data science and policy science to equip students with essential knowledge, skills and capacities to design innovative, big data-driven, and evidence-based policy solutions to complex problems in society. The Director of the programme, Prof. Wilson Wong, said, ‘Data science can be applied to any policy area.’

The required courses in the programme provide students with essential and integrated knowledge in data science, data analytics, policy studies and public policy. Elective courses offered by the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering on programming and coding languages such as R and Python, data mining and statistics to solidify knowledge in big data, computer and statistical learning, are also available.

Data science can easily be taken for statistics, but Professor Wong explained the difference between the two: ‘Data science combines many disciplines including statistics which is an integral part of it.’ Meanwhile, data science is prognostic. For instance, overseas counter-terrorism authorities would monitor and analyse social media users’ backgrounds and behaviours, with the aims to identify high-risk suspects and put them under closer surveillance.

The programme will also examine the ethical issues that arise from the use of data, providing opportunities for students to think about the dilemma between data science development and ethics. The rapid development of data science exposes the inadequacies of current laws and regulations. The European Union has implemented the new General Data Protection Regulation, under which a company is required to report any data leakage within 72 hours. Hong Kong does not have similar regulations but the high-profile cases of data breaches in recent years should make us think again. Professor Wong said, ‘Introducing legislation is the third stage in the life of data science, after application and technical development.’

This interdisciplinary programme enables students to acquire and integrate knowledge in the fields of policy studies, data mining and data analytics, providing a wide range of interactive and experiential learning activities such as internship and capstone project that enable students to apply their learning to design and implement data-oriented policy solutions to different social issues. Students will be able to understand the latest global developments and connect with global talent in the fields of data science and social science through required resident study overseas and collaborations with overseas institutions. They are also expected to become data scientists, effective policy designers and communicators whose versatility will be well sought by public and private sectors.

DSPS students attained outstanding achievement and accomplishment in numerous areas, which illustrated the vision of our innovative programme. For instance, our students won the D. H. Chen Foundation Scholarship and the second prize in Huawei ICT Competition. Not only do the students in the programme have transformative learning experience including internship in government departments, non-governmental organizations and private enterprises such as Morgan Stanley Asia Limited, Hong Kong Productivity Council, Civic Exchange and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to learn about the latest industry developments and participate in daily operation in the institutions, our students also make connections through the overseas exchange program with various world-renowned universities such as University of Cambridge, Technical University of Munich and The Australian National University.

In addition, students are trained to become data analysts, policy advocates, professional managers and policymakers. To strengthen the utilization of good mix of soft and hard skills, our students also contributed in the launch of Hong Kong Open Data Index Report 2021/2022 as student researchers. Besides, we have invited Ekimetrics, a global data science consulting firm to introduce our students the power of data science by explaining the importance of data visualizations and storytelling skills while providing data solutions to the clients. As such, graduates from the DSPS programme can find themselves in high demand for a wide spectrum of jobs in the private and the public sectors, such as consulting firms, multinational corporations, and technology and science sectors.

Article adapted from CUHKUPDates

Published: Winter 2018
Last Updated: Summer 2022