How artificial intelligence is changing public services

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used in institutions in the public services sector. Future leaders will acquire the skill set they need to shape this digital transformation in the new Master's degree program Artificial Intelligence for Public Services (AI4Gov).

“Artificial intelligence will really come into its own in the future. The benefits it offers includes simplifying complex administrative procedures, increasing availability of services and processing huge volumes of data quickly and usefully,” according to Carina Pühl. She was one of the first students to complete the new Master’s degree program for working professionals, AI4Gov, lasting two semesters. She now hopes to put what she studied to good use in her job as study abroad advisor and EWP coordinator at FAU. EWP stands for “Erasmus without paper” and aims to eradicate paper from Erasmus, the popular European educational program that encourages cross-border mobility for students, teaching staff and employees. “The idea is that each university and each institute of higher education should be integrated into the Erasmus without paper system in order to allow student data to be transferred digitally,” she explains. The scope of the project is impressive, as Pühl can confirm after investigating it for her Master’s thesis.

150 applications from across the globe

Carina Pühl was among the first to study the AI4Gov degree programme. (Image: FAU/Boris Mijat)

This “Master in Artificial Intelligence for Public Services” is a new degree program funded by the European Union and developed jointly by four European universities: the Spanish Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the Italian Politecnico di Milano, the Estonian University of Technology and FAU. “All four universities are leaders in the area of digitalization, innovation, technology and engineering,” explains Philipp Dumbach. He is the scientific advisor for AI strategy at FAU, and is also responsible for managing the Master’s degree program within the context of the project AI4Gov. “Our first cohort started in October 2021 and graduated in July 2022. We received more than 150 applications from across the globe for the 40 places on offer. That shows how important the topic is, and how much interest and room for improvement there is in the public sector.”

Transformation processes take time

Philipp Dumbach is the Scientific Advisor for AI Strategy at FAU. He oversees the AI4Gov project at FAU. (Image: Philipp Dumbach)

After completing the selection process, the four universities finally decided on 20 men and 20 women from 24 countries, with an average age of 38. “We deliberately chose participants who have work experience under their belt and are working at an interface in the public sector,” stressed Dumbach. Like his colleague Carina Pühl in the “Erasmus without paper” project. “Even just collecting all data digitally is a huge step forward,” she explains. “Once all universities and institutes of higher education move over to doing that we will no longer have to print off, sign and scan every individual document, instead we will be able to access data online and transfer them among each other digitally.” However, as Pühl knows after completing her Master’s thesis, it will take a while until that stage is reached. “Digital transformation processes take time;” she says. “And the Master’s in Artificial Intelligence for Public Service provides the skills and expertise needed to shape and implement these processes effectively.”


from Elke Zapf

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Alexander 119

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