English-taught degree programmes to disappear from the Faculty of Arts

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Aarhus BSS has already shut down two degree programmes offered in English, and Arts is next in line.

2018.11.26 | Lene Ravn

“Shutting down degree programmes taught in English damages our reputation and our possibilities for improving our rankings. We may gain a reputation for being provincial in Europe and in the rest of the world. Everything will become more difficult. Because how are we going to collaborate if we don’t have enough programmes taught in English?” says Niels Overgaard Lehmann, vice-dean for education at Arts. Archival photos: Lars Kruse

Closure of degree programmes

Aarhus BSS and the Faculty of Arts have decided to close degree programmes taught in English, because the government ( with the support of the Danish People's Party) has decided to allow 1,000 - 1,200 fewer students to be admitted to university and Bachelor of Engineering degree programmes taught in English nationwide. 

It’s been estimated that educating two out of three international students is a loss-making proposition for the Danish state, which pays for their tuition and provides them with SU grants, because they tend to leave the country shortly after graduation. But even though many graduates do return home, on average international students contribute between 100,000 and 350,000 to the Danish national purse over their lifetimes.

 

Arts

The two Master’s degree programmes International Studies and Anthropology of Education and Globalisation will now be offered in Danish.

The Cognitive Semiotics programme will either meet the same fate or be converted to a track on the Linguistics programme. This has not been decided yet.

The Master’s degree programme Religious Roots of Europe, a joint degree involving a number of universities, will be closed at AU, but will probably be continued by other universities.

In addition to these four degree programmes, the faculty management team has identified a number of tracks taught in English that will either be converted to Danish or closed. These tracks are Digital Living at the School of Communication and Culture and the English-language philosophy, history and anthropology tracks at the School of Culture and Society.

If these tracks are closed, the student places will be transferred to relevant degree programmes. For example, the Digital Living track will either be offered in Danish or closed, in which case the student places will be transferred to Information Studies.

 

Aarhus BSS

Aarhus BSS is closing two degree programmes: the Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management Communication and the related Master’s in Corporate Communication.

Eighteen per cent of recent corporate communication graduates are unemployed,  measured in terms of average unemployment in the fourth to seventh quarter after receiving a diploma. A typical starting monthly salary for a new graduate of the programme is DKK 27,700. 

Dropout rates from the Bachelor’s programmes in Marketing and Management Communication is 16 per cent during the first year of the programme. 

Source: Ministry of Higher Education and Science, AU and Statistics Denmark

We want fewer international students in Denmark in future – a verdict passed by the government and the Danish People's Party earlier this year. And now this decision is having a concrete impact on the Faculty of Arts, where the management has just pulled the plug on one degree programme and overhauled two others.

From now on, the two Master’s degree programmes International Studies and Anthropology of Education and Globalisation will be offered in Danish, which of course means that students will now have to be proficient in the language. The Cognitive Semiotics programme will either meet the same fate or be converted to a track on the Linguistics programme. And finally, the faculty will be discontinuing the Religious Roots of Europe programme. 

The faculty is making all these changes to meet a demand to reduce the number of English speaking students by about 80. And this has been a both difficult and unwanted task, according to Niels Overgaard Lehmann, vice-dean for education at Arts:

“This isn’t something we would have touched if we didn’t have to. It’s been an uncalled-for difficulty to change degree programmes that were doing well.”

He stresses that he would have preferred to avoid this: 

“This reform was no invention of mine. It’s really been awful to have to do this. Not to mention that it will unavoidably have an effect on our ability to work internationally. It’s obvious that the university’s reputation is at stake when we close ourselves off. Personally, I believe it’s the absolute wrong way to go,” says Lehmann.We want fewer international students in Denmark in future – a verdict passed by the government and the Danish People's Party earlier this year. And now this decision is having a concrete impact on the Faculty of Arts, where the management has just pulled the plug on one degree programme and overhauled two others.

A smart move

The degree programme Religious Roots of Europe, which will now be shut down completely, is a joint degree, which means that students take their courses at a number of partner universities. And while AU is responsible for coordinating the programme, it is offered in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and the universities in Bergen, Oslo and Lund.  

The faculty management team’s decision to close this particular programme is due to the fact that all 20-25 students on the programme count in the faculty’s enrolment figures. But in reality, only three or four of these students are actually from AU. 

“We’ve looked at where it would be least painful. And the fact of the matter is that it’s our degree programme from the ministry’s perspective because we’re the lead institution. And you have to make the moves that benefit you most. Now we’re pulling out of the collaboration, but the other universities will probably continue,” the vice-dean explains.

He doesn’t know where the degree programme will be anchored in future:

“That’s their headache, you might say. But it’s conceivable that UCPH may end up with it. We’re terminating the contract now and withdrawing,” Lehmann says, explaining that AU will probably be completely out of the partnership by 2020.

A shrinking faculty

The reductions in programmes taught in English aren’t the only cutbacks at Arts. The faculty is already in the process of reducing enrolment in general, a consequence of so-called ‘unemployment rightsizing’, which means that the faculty has to reduce enrolment in programmes with high rates of unemployment among their graduates. And Arts has a number of such programmes. According to Vice-dean Lehmann, by 2020, the faculty must reduce its enrolment by 30 per cent compared to 2013 levels.

But the faculty didn’t taken unemployment figures or the like into consideration when deciding which English-language programme to close or change, the vice-dean explains.

Instead, the programmes which were selected were those the faculty management team could find a different path for – for example, programmes that could be converted to Danish. And also in relation to how many international students are enrolled in the programme:

“We chose the programmes with a certain volume of international students. What’s paradoxical is that the programmes that will suffer are the ones that have done best internationally.”

Vice-dean: We may gain a reputation for being provincial 

According to Lehmann, the world will become smaller for both AU and its students when the university loses its international students: 

“You discover some extra dimensions when you shuffle the deck between the Danes and people from elsewhere. That’s something most of us can probably recognize from talking to people with different perspectives on life on our own travels abroad, he says, and adds:

“Shutting down degree programmes taught in English damages our reputation and our possibilities for improving our rankings. We may gain a reputation for being provincial in Europe and in the rest of the world. Everything will become more difficult. Because how are we going to collaborate if we don’t have enough programmes taught in English?”

Lehmann believes that when politicians decide to downsizing English-language degree programmes, their perspective on the issue is myopically macroeconomic. For example, one justification offered for this move is that only about one in three graduates of these programmes works in Denmark after two years, which makes them an expense for the country.

“If you see this from a politician’s point of view, the math looks like this: Students without Danish passports come to the country. They get SU and free education, and then they go home without contributing to the public purse. We’re paying for people who won’t pay us back. And it’s true that too few of our international students remain here. But that probably has something to do with the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to get permission to stay,” explains the vice-dean.

Aarhus BSS has shut down degree programmes

Despite the government’s demand to reduce the number of English-speaking students,the changes to these programmes will not lead to reduced enrolment at Arts. The situation is different at Aarhus BSS, where management has decided to shut down two degree programmes in business communication to meet the government’s demands: the Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management Communication and the related Master’s in Corporate Communication.

Jacob Kjær Eskildsen, head of the Department of Management. Archival photos: Lise Balsby

Both degree programmes are offered by the Department of Management, which is headed by Jacob Kjær Eskildsen. He explains that his department only had two cards to play: 

“We only have two programmes taught in English that could deliver the desired reduction. And that’s the BSc in Economics and Business Administration in English and the MSc in the same subject, or the MA in corporate communication. If we had decided to revise the BSc and MSc in Economics and Business Administration, the consequences would have been immeasurable. We admit about 900 students to this MSc annually, and if we were to offer it in Danish, we would probably lose all of our international accreditations, have trouble covering courses and generally speaking lose our entire internationalisation strategy.” 

He continues:  

“This was the least invasive solution, even though it’s never fun having to tell students that we have to find another solution now because their degree programme is closing,” says Eskildsen.

And according to him, another motivation for Aarhus BSS’ decision to close two business communication programmes is that the stats show that the programmes’ graduates have been performing poorly on the job market: 

“Employment levels aren’t good compared with the Economics and Business Administration MSc – and the same applies to starting pay levels.”

In fact, plans were already in place to reduce admissions to the BSc from 155 this year to 125 in 2019 because of high graduate unemployment. And now that admissions figure will be zero. 

Currently enrolled Master’s degree students will be able to finish their degrees, as will Bachelor’s students – who will be forced to find a different Master’s if they chose to continue their studies, however. 

“Formally speaking, you only have a legal right of admission to one Master’s degree programme, but these students will be given a right of admission to a number of different programmes – and we’ll really go out of our way to make sure that they don’t feel that they’re being forced into anything,” Eskildsen explains. However, he can’t yet say with certainty what the department will be able to guarantee the students.

Closure of degree programmes

Aarhus BSS and the Faculty of Arts have decided to close degree programmes taught in English, because the government ( with the support of the Danish People's Party) has decided to allow 1,000 - 1,200 fewer students to be admitted to university and Bachelor of Engineering degree programmes taught in English nationwide. 

It’s been estimated that educating two out of three international students is a loss-making proposition for the Danish state, which pays for their tuition and provides them with SU grants, because they tend to leave the country shortly after graduation. But even though many graduates do return home, on average international students contribute between 100,000 and 350,000 to the Danish national purse over their lifetimes.

 

Arts 

The two Master’s degree programmes International Studies and Anthropology of Education and Globalisation will now be offered in Danish.

The Cognitive Semiotics programme will either meet the same fate or be converted to a track on the Linguistics programme. This has not been decided yet.

The Master’s degree programme Religious Roots of Europe, a joint degree involving a number of universities, will be closed at AU, but will probably be continued by other universities.

In addition to these four degree programmes, the faculty management team has identified a number of tracks taught in English that will either be converted to Danish or closed. These tracks are Digital Living at the School of Communication and Culture and the English-language philosophy, history and anthropology tracks at the School of Culture and Society. 

If these tracks are closed, the student places will be transferred to relevant degree programmes. For example, the Digital Living track will either be offered in Danish or closed, in which case the student places will be transferred to Information Studies.

 

Aarhus BSS

Aarhus BSS is closing two degree programmes: the Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management Communication and the related Master’s in Corporate Communication.

Eighteen per cent of recent corporate communication graduates are unemployed,  measured in terms of average unemployment in the fourth to seventh quarter after receiving a diploma. A typical starting monthly salary for a new graduate of the programme is DKK 27,700. 

Dropout rates from the Bachelor’s programmes in Marketing and Management Communication is 16 per cent during the first year of the programme. 

 

Source: Ministry of Higher Education and Science, AU and Statistics Denmark

 

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