Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Comenius Leadership Fellow grant to make AUAS students AI-ready

3 Jun 2021 11:53 | Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries

The Centre of Expertise Applied AI of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) has been awarded a Comenius Leadership Fellow grant of €500,000 for the AI4Students project. Over the next three years, the project headed by Professor of Responsible AI Nanda Piersma intends to use the Comenius grant to equip AUAS students for a future in which artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasingly important role.

The assessment committee of the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) selected the project from a total of 15 applications and praised AI4Students for its innovative character and the expected benefits for students, lecturers and the professional field. “Because of the social relevance of the topic, the committee is confident that the outcomes will be valuable to students and lecturers as well as the professional field.”

AI-ready upon graduation

AI4Students is a project that should have an impact in all faculties of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. “We would like to ensure that all AUAS students are AI-ready by the time they graduate, not just with a general acquaintance with AI, but AI specifically geared to their field of study,” Piersma explains. “So it’s not about them studying with us first to become an accountant or physiotherapist, for example, and then having to take an additional training course as soon as they start their job. Instead, they should already be thinking with us about how AI is going to affect their job.”

The Comenius Leadership Fellow 2021 grant will enable Piersma to start fulfilling that ambition over the next three years. “What we want to do is start performing an AI impact scan for each degree programme,” Piersma explains. “In what way is artificial intelligence going to impact a professional field? How will this affect what professionals need to be able to do, and what does that mean for the degree programme itself?”

Getting degree programmes involved

Piersma is currently conducting exploratory talks with the AUAS degree programmes that will participate in AI4Students. During the three-year project, the research group will then work with three degree programmes each year. “The approach may vary greatly from one programme to another. Sometimes it will be appropriate to have different themes addressed in certain courses, but in some cases it may involve either developing a new course or linking a minor to the programme.”

Getting AI ready for humans

In this way, Piersma hopes that more and more students will be familiar with artificial intelligence to some degree even before entering the job market. And this in turn will have implications for AI. “As far as AI-ready is concerned, the term has a double meaning. On the one hand, it’s about preparing students for a profession with artificial intelligence, and on the other hand, it's about making artificial intelligence ready for humans. We need to get away from the mystery that often surrounds AI. We need to make it tangible, in the workplace and in everyday life.”

About the Comenius Leadership Fellows

The Comenius Leadership Fellows programme is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). It is a grant programme to help lecturers and researchers put their views on education into practice. The Leadership Fellows grants are aimed specifically at innovations in one or more faculties or even an entire educational institution. Leadership Fellows are nominated by the Executive Board of their institution and awarded by NRO. The budget for these grants is made available by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.