Computational thinking compulsory at two top-50 universities

follow 3 pngAs I was sitting on a draft of this post about plans at Asia’s top ranked university to make computational thinking compulsory for all students, I got a notification from Mark Guzdial’s blog about a top European university with a very similar initiative.

The Times Higher Education has reported that the president of the National University of Singapore (NUS), which is the highest ranked university in Asia (and ranked 22 globally) on the THE world rankings 2018, has made computational thinking (and statistics) compulsory for all students “regardless of what course they do”.

And today, Mark Guzdial has reported on his blog that École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which is ranked 38th in the world according to THE, is also integrating computational thinking across the entire university, including graduate students. Like the initiative at NUS, Mark notes that the initiative at EPFL has the highest level of administrative support – including the president. For videos of Mark’s keynote at EPFL, see his post.

The president of NUS, Professor Tan Eng Chye, is apparently not afraid of shaking things up, as evidenced from some of his quotes in the THE article:

Much to the angst of some students, I have made statistics as well as computational thinking or programming compulsory for everyone, regardless of what course they do.

Some students don’t react well, but it’s good for them to be sensitised – They may not have to do programming [when they graduate] but I think in this new world where technology is really disrupting our everyday life it is good for a university student to have some understanding.

My key challenge is how do I prepare my students to be adaptable? How do I train them to have a strong sense of perseverance? With soft skills.

– President of NUS, Professor Tan Eng Chye, as reported by the Times Higher Education.

With two of the top universities in the world taking on initiatives like this, I can’t help but wonder how many other institutions will follow suit?


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