The opening ceremony at the Big Data College of the Guizhou Institute of Technology on Sept 15, 2017. (Photo provided to China Daily)
A group of 295 freshmen at the Big Data College in Guizhou's provincial capital of Guiyang are going through a unique experience.
These undergraduates are attending China's first higher education establishment dedicated to one of the driving forces of innovation and technology in the 21st century.
In a move to cultivate talent in the field of big data, the college has put a partnership together between industry, universities and research institutes.
Last month, it opened its doors for the first time after being founded by Guizhou provincial government, the Guizhou Institute of Technology, online giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and educational platform Huikedu Group.
The college's main mission is to train technicians and scientists of the future.
"We are different from other colleges as students will not only get diplomas in big data but also certificates from Alibaba," said Long Fenjie, president of Guizhou Institute of Technology.
"This will be beneficial to their careers in the long term," he added.
Up to 2,500 big data and cloud computing students are expected to graduate, as well as another 10,000 in related professions, during the next three years.
Majors in network engineering, or cloud computing, as well as data science and big data technology are on the curriculum for the four-year bachelor's degree course.
Part of which will also include tutorials from senior Alibaba technology staff.
"We will dispatch core technology experts, and contribute to the research and development of teaching materials," said Michael Yang, vice-president of Alibaba Cloud Computing.
The company plans to recruit stellar students from the program, Yang pointed out, or recommend them to other high-tech firms.
Apart from cooperating with Alibaba, Guizhou has agreed a partnership deal for an electronics college with the National Institute of Information Technology in India.
A China-United Kingdom data park, which will house 30 companies, is also being developed for healthcare-related technology.
"More high quality resources will be integrated into Guizhou with the help of such collaborations," Long, of Guizhou Institute of Technology, said.
"This will inject energy into future big data development in the province," he added.