WUR setting up new Data Science degree programme

The university is launching three new tracks for students of Nutrition, Economics and Communication.
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WUR aims to start a new Master’s programme in 2022: Data Science for Food and Health. The programme has now been submitted to the national committee that evaluates proposed degree programmes at all the Dutch universities. But the university wants to launch three components of the new programme in the coming academic year. These are specialist tracks in the degree programmes Nutrition & Health, Management, Economics & Consumer Studies, and Communication, Health & Life Sciences.

New chairs

The new degree programme is part of an investment plan by WUR to strengthen the discipline of data science. This includes the appointment of three new professors. Education director Arnold Bregt: ‘We see data science as a means of strengthening nutrition and health research.’ He compares it with the Master’s in Bio-informatics, which reinforces plant sciences research at Wageningen, and the Master’s in Geo-information Science, which strengthens spatial planning research. ‘We opt explicitly for the data science approach in context.’

We see data science as a means of strengthening nutrition and health research

Arnold Bregt, education director

Data science is hot, and all the universities are investing in it, so WUR will have to propose a ‘unique’ programme to get it selected. The programme must also be relevant to a specific labour market. WUR is targeting food companies, health institutions and organizations such as the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). People working in this field increasingly deal with data in combination with their specialist knowledge in the field of nutrition and health. WUR wants to provide that combination of knowledge and data, says Lukasz Grus, who coordinates data science education from the Wageningen Data Competence Centre.

At present, the university expects to recruit 20 to 30 students a year to the new degree programme, says Bregt. Wageningen Academy and the WUR graduate schools are also going to offer their employees short refresher courses on data science. 

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