How is China training a quantum workforce?

By Amara Graps

With China’s huge quantum funding through its departments: MOST (Ministry of Science and Technology) and NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission), what about quantum mandates that reach young people? Is there quantum education in the public school system? Yes, with new initiatives.

Modernization of primary education

From top to bottom, there is pressure to include quantum technology in primary classrooms as part of the country’s education modernization plans. Chen Yunlong, deputy director of the Ministry of Education’s Basic Curriculum and Textbook Development Center writes that “The future has come, and progress in basic education must also follow the wave of technological development», after specifically mentioning artificial intelligence, big data, quantum information, and biotechnology. For this future, China has released two documents: “China’s Education Modernization 2035” and “The Implementation Plan for Accelerating the Promotion of Education Modernization (2018-2022)” accelerating modernization education. The year 2035 holds special significance in China’s overall development calendar, as the country is committed to achieving socialist modernization by then.

The modernization plan aims to open up the primary and secondary school curriculum, encourage children to explore their interests, and expand curricula with interactive science and technology. The money that China invests in their education improvement is considerable.

In the first year, 2019, of China’s 2035 education modernization plan, they allocated more than 4 percent of GDP and more than one trillion yuan ($157 billion). Since I am limited to open sources, it is clear that such funding must be widely distributed. For example, in the 2020 final budget of MOST, the education item is 1,212,100,000 yuan = 191 million dollars. With such funding, and with this new framework, there is funding and political support for quantum education to enter primary and secondary schools. Some recent examples of quantum youth education in practice can be seen by Quantum origin and CIQTEKbelow.

Hefei Quantum Enterprises Support Quantum Education

In September 2017, Origin Quantum Computing Technology Co., Ltd., (合肥本源量子计算科技有限责任公司 translated as “Yuanyuan” Quantum or “Benyuan” Quantum), the first quantum computing start-up in China, was created. Today it is a company with 300 employees in Hefei. To promote the development of quantum computing and cultivate domestic quantum computing talents, Origin Quantum has opened a quantum education section of the company, while developing its quantum computing software and hardware systems.

In 2021, Origin Quantum visited Hefei Normal Primary School. From the founders’ educational roots at the University of Science and Technology of China, Guo Guoping explained, “What is quantum, what is quantum computing, and what does a quantum computer look like?” to students.

Professor Guo Guoping explains quantum technology to students at Hefei Normal Primary School. Source photo from Origin Quantum website.

School visits are only part of his education efforts. The company also has cloud-based quantum educational hardware: the Yuanyuan Quantum Learning System.

Another Hefei-based quantum tech company: CIQTEK has an intriguing quantum computing educational device based on a nitrogen vacancy (NV) center in diamond, but few details are provided and no price is given.

University quantum education

The “Implementation Plan described above” proposes ten key tasks to promote the modernization of education; the fourth task is one that I will address in the context of quantum education and research.

In the implementation plan, the reform of higher education is specified: development of a new dual network of first-rate universities, high-level post-graduate education, training in rare skills with high added value, improving scientific research, building advanced science centers and participating in the construction of national laboratories.

University of Science and Technology of China (USTC): Responsible for teaching quantum technology

As early as the 1990s, (USTC) offered quantum-related electives such as Quantum for graduate students. Later, related electives were also offered to undergraduate students. However, the interdisciplinary nature of quantum information science, between computer science and quantum physics, needs its own undergraduate and graduate category. Seasoned academics agree on the need to build a young, quantum-trained workforce. Guo Guoping, quantum professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences: “perform related tasks in the field of quantum information in the 14and FYP, it is necessary to have a sufficient panel of exceptional young talents to support. “Guoping’s wish came true in 2021.

Figure 5. China University of Science and Technology in Hefei, capital of eastern Anhui province, is part of the country’s elite C9 league, equivalent to the Ivy League in the United States. Photo credit: South China Morning Post.

2021: major news in quantum information science

In early 2021, the Ministry of Education announced the results of the 2020 filing and approval undergraduate majors in general higher education establishments. Thirty-seven new majors have been included in the catalog of undergraduate majors in regular colleges and universities including quantum information science is a. “Adding an undergraduate major in quantum information science is timely and necessary, and it also reflects the country’s commitment to the quantum technology industry,” Guo Guoping said. Several universities have started their undergraduate courses on quantum information. The University of Science and Technology of China (hereinafter referred to as USTC) was one. Tsinghua University was another.

Postgraduate Quantum Information Course are also offered: in addition to USTC, where quantum courses have long been available in master’s and doctoral studies, Guo Guoping says Shanxi University, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and other units in China also offer postgraduate courses in quantum information. sciences, as well as many national colleges and universities offering similar electives.

Growth of Quantum Skills and Future Quantum Homes

Thanks to China’s huge support for education, soon-to-graduate quantum information students will make their mark on the world. See the swimming pool of Engineering graduate students in the following figure section of the Ministry of Education’s 2020 statistics. these 250282 graduate students with diverse engineering skills are a vector in the country’s future quantum technology pool.

Engineering line item from the Chinese Ministry of Education website for their 2020 statistics.

Where is China in this quantum technology education implementation plan? Let’s choose a sector where China’s skills are strong: quantum dots. Among the quantum dot patents granted since 2016, the institutions of these patents account for 20% of the list of first-class dual institutions announced in February 2022 by the Chinese Ministry of Education. This initiative is therefore still early and needs more time. Advances in quantum research so far have always been more dependent on groups of quantum mentors and quantum leaders. However, I suggest you keep an eye on the map of the country’s top-class dual institutions for future quantum research hotbeds.

Integration of quantum information science with industry

According to Guoping, training talents who specialize in quantum information science should pay more attention to industry traction and integration. “For example, we are asking students from the School of Finance to take courses on quantum information, and he will apply quantum computing to finance in the future,” he says.

A step in the direction of education-industry integration can be seen at the provincial level with the January 2022 news that Guangdong Province’s “Industry-Education Integration Promotion Association” will help and guide schools and enterprises to jointly build 50 industry-education integration projects. Such examples highlight the deeply intertwined nature of top-down government policy implementation.


The Chinese government launched the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) in 2008, with the aim of making China the world leader in science and technology by 2050. In order to bring back to China scientists, scholars and prominent Chinese entrepreneurs living overseas with their acquired skills, this served as an effective strategy to build technology teams that could serve as teachers and industry leaders. In 2011, the program expanded to include young talents and foreign scientists. Until the TTP was renamed in 2020, due to intellectual property issues in the United States, to the High-End Foreign Expert Recruitment Plan, it attracted more than 7,000 scientists, including the famous quantum scientist Jian-Wei Pan. If a Chinese student today is interested in studying abroad, he has additional support from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China: an “easy loan”: 2 million RMB, or about 300,000 USD. Kania and Costello, 2018 describe how great Chinese quantum physicists become key figures in Chinese quantum science and technology after earning doctorates and pursuing research at top US and international institutions.

April 2, 2022

Sherry J. Basler