Academic Council critizes effort made for international full-time students

Skrevet af Jannick Friis ChristensenTranslated by Felix Kasperek - Foto: Anders Meldgård Kjemtrup - 18. februar 2013 - 14:220 kommentarer
Jan Sebastian Hillebrand of Germany, member of the Academic Council for CBS Students and full-time student at CBS has taken part in the formulation of the critique in the Academic Council’s annual report of CBS’ effort for full-time students.

In its annual report of 2012 to CBS’ Board of Directors, the Academic Council concludes that way too many international full-time students are struggling to fit in socially. Current activities are to be revised, and a new strategy with increased support is to be formulated.

International students face difficulties fitting in

As recently as last semester, CBS launched a new program with the purpose of integrating the over 3000 international full-time students in the daily life in Denmark as well as in the daily life here at CBS.

The program has barely gotten off the ground before the Academic Council, in its annual report to CBS’ Board of Directors criticizes the effort towards this group of students that, according to student representative Jan Sebastian Hillebrand have enough trouble fitting in as it is.

- CBS wants to be an international university but international full-time students have, until recently, had to make do with the intro programs of the different programs, which isn’t good enough, says Jan Hillebrand.

He’s an international student from Germany and has therefore made it his cause to fight for the international full-time students in the Academic Council, in which he’s incumbent for the second year in a row.

Academic Council receives complaints
In the annual report, the Academic Council encourages CBS to revise its current effort towards the international students on the basis of a number of complaints about lack of support.

Meanwhile, Jan Hillebrand can’t provide any numbers on how many complaints have been received and therefore can’t answer when asked if the number of complaints has been rising. He’s certain as to why that’s the case though.

- There’s no real authority that the international students can go to with their points of critique, so they end up in both the study boards and in the hands of the lecturers, says Jan Hillebrand and adds:

- But it doesn’t change the fact that many need help, which is basically is an indirect complaint.

Desperately looking for housing
A common complaint from the international students pertains to the student’s housing situation where many, according to Jan Hillebrand, are on the verge of despair.

Many international full-time students desperately need help finding a place to stay when they come to Denmark. Especially those from outside the EU, since they have to register within two weeks, says Jan Hillebrand, who lived at a hostel for a month when came here to study international Business and
Politics (IBP) at CBS.

Even though the critique from the Academic Council pertains to the lack of social integration of international full-time students, Jan Hillebrand thinks that there’s a need for an adjustment of academic expectations.

- Academically there are examples of international students from e.g. Anglo-Saxon countries that’re used to getting good grades back home, but receive abysmal grades at CBS because the criteria for success are different in Denmark.

Room for improvement
Tom Dahl-Østergaard, director of the international programs, agrees that more can be done for the international full-time students.

He thinks that CBS bends over backwards for foreign exchange students, but that the fall semester of 2012 also brought the launch of a number of new, good initiatives for international full-time students, in connection with the new program.

- I’ve been in this position for 18 months and we’ve gone from spending resources on attracting new international students to trying to help those who are already here, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

- For example, president Per Holten-Andersen welcomed them in connection with a seminar we held, about everything from the daily life in Denmark to getting student jobs here. A bit further into the semester we held our International Education Week and our volunteer international student ambassadors (ISA) have done a good job of following up on it continuously, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

Student representative: service program was no success
Jan Hillebrand thinks that last year’s attempts to better integrate international full-time students was unsuccessful.

- In my opinion, the welcome-event was scheduled way too late, which was evident in the low attendance. People had to seek out the information provided at the event themselves, long before the event took place, says Jan Hillebrand.

Referring to the low attendance, Jan Hillebrand says that the new initiatives can be considered a success and lists a number of problems with them.

- There’s only one full-time employee to help support the international student ambassadors and in many cases you’re at a dead end if you want to get involved and make a difference, because most things at CBS take place in Danish.

Jan Hillebrand thereby calls the lack of international culture at CBS the hindrance for the integration of international full-time students and also mentions that the concluding remarks in meetings of the CBS’ Board of Directors still are in Danish.

Evaluation of effort still a while off
A satisfaction evaluation for the international full-time students, aimed towards developing the services provided them won’t happen until spring though.

Therefore Jan Hillebrand and other international full-time students at CBS shouldn’t expect any major changes in the effort compared to last year.

- We’ll continue to help out the international full-time students this year, but we’d like to try to reach more people and we’ve planned activities all through 2013, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.