Downsizing of programs based on obsolete numbers

Skrevet af Bjørn HyldkrogJesper Snedker Adamsen, (versioning) - Foto: Jesper Kock - 28. oktober 2014 - 22:440 kommentarer
75 new BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy students at a lecture conducted by Professor Kurt Jacobsen.

The MSc and BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy programs have recently been completely revised. As of 2014, the graduate program is now taught in English and the profile of the program has become extensively business oriented with a new curriculum, and 28 related mentors from the private sector. Now the student intake level just has to be curtailed. 

‘It is utterly grotesque and surreal’

- I am still shell shocked. To put it mildly, we were quite surprised to learn that we are on the list of programs explicitly targeted for ‘dimensioning’, i.e. downsizing, says the Program Director, Professor Kurt Jacobsen, and continues:

- This is actually a brand new program that the Ministry of Higher Education and Science is essentially trying to phase out; and the decision is based on statistics from the previous edition of the program, i.e. a program that no longer exists. And even in relation to the previous edition the numbers are outdated. Through recent years, this program has merely produced a maximum of 2 graduates annually, who were unemployed a year after graduation.

The Program Director thinks that the Ministry’s decision is intransigent and resembles the decision processes of centrally planned economies; and he finds it surreal that the decision is based on numbers that describe the situation in 2010 and years before that.

- It is a fact that some years ago there was a period of high unemployment rates. We took those numbers very seriously and we were already going in the right direction at that point. We have spent 3 years revising and altering the program due to those exact numbers. And then the Ministry bases the decision exclusively on those numbers, says a frustrated Kurt Jacobsen.

‘Dimensioning plan’ based on false evidence

The radically transformed MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program, which has been subject to the implementation of a variety of new, unique measures in order to produce sought-after graduates, has to be downsized to a total student intake of just 17 students. And this decision is based on numbers from the out-phased version of the program.

Due to lack of professional relevance and high unemployment rates among graduates, both the undergraduate and the graduate programs were only conditionally approved by the accreditation agency ACE Denmark in 2011.

CBS immediately reacted to this. A new Program Director was found and encouraged to implement a radical reform of the programs.

Completely internationalized and professionally relevant

Basically the undergraduate program is now characterized by increased focus on business economics and a more seamless interplay between the philosophical aspects and business economics.

In terms of the graduate program the transformation is overwhelming as it is now exclusively taught in English combined with a new curriculum, and an innovative mentor concept.

This year, 75 students were accepted at undergraduate level, while 60 students were enrolled in the graduate program. CBS management has announced that it will continue to offer both programs, and that CBS, despite limited financial means, will fund the programs if necessary.

3 years of positive developments and a reform overlooked

However, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science has based its evaluation of the quality of the programs on statistics dating back to before 2010. And the current projection is that CBS will only receive funds that equal a graduate program student intake of just 17 students from 2017.

The improvements that have been implemented over the past 3 years, which include a new accreditation process, a lowered unemployment rate among graduates, an overwhelming reform of the programs, and the development of a mentor concept including 28 successful alumni from the corporate sector, have been completely ignored.

The internationalization of the graduate program, and the fact that the program is now open to international applicants received significant attention from international media, e.g. the CBS program was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. That too has been completely ignored.

A perpetually inexplicable explanation problem

Others than just the Program Director are shell shocked as also members of the study committee, who have contributed to the overhaul and internationalization of the programs, are shaking their heads in disbelief.

- It is just so incomprehensible and almost comical, but these decisions have resulted in a massive work overload for the study committee, not to mention all the unanswered questions the students are left with, says Jeppe Groot, Deputy Chairman of the study committee and BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy student, and elaborates:

- Since the ‘dimensioning plan’ was published I have been spending a lot of time and energy explaining that the programs that the Ministry is essentially trying to phase out – I believe that is the natural consequence when you cut graduate program student intake by 70 percent – no longer exist.

Jeppe Groot is annoyed by the fact that now the study committee will have to use its resources on justifying the existence of the programs, and answering unfounded questions, instead of using the resources on developing and ensuring the quality of the programs due to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s baseless downsizing plan:

- It takes up a lot of our time and drains our financial resources as well. It is almost as if we are not allowed to prove that it works, because the Ministry has permanently decided that these programs must be phased out based on obsolete numbers dating back to 2010 and before, says Jeppe Groot and asks:

- How can it be, that once again we have to fight for the existence of the programs and prove the positive developments when the Ministry and the accreditation agency already have the right numbers? We gave them to them. It is absurd.

Ignores that the reformation meets all requirements

The understanding within the program administration and the study committee is that everything has been done to meet the requirements of the accreditation agency in terms of making the programs more professionally relevant, while also maintaining the academic standards and integrity; and that everything policymakers have asked for has been delivered:

- We have delivered exactly what people have been screaming for: business oriented humanities. We have developed a program that specifically combines the humanities with business, explains Kurt Jacobsen and continues:

- We have fulfilled the Ministry’s ambition of increased internationalization and in doing so; we have also complied with the wishes of the researchers of the Carnegie Foundation’s humanities in business project.

- As it was announced that the MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program would now be taught in English, we were contacted by the Wall Street Journal. I believe that this program is the only Danish university program that has gotten a mention there, and we were almost described as being a role model, he adds.

5 international students accepted against all odds

In relation to this year’s student intake 22 undergraduate students form the BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program were accepted into the MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program, as were 18 students from other undergraduate programs, 5 of which are international students, and 20 students who were legally entitled to a graduate program at CBS, but had been rejected at other graduate programs.

- The relatively low number of international students is due to the fact that we were entangled in a regulatory mess in relation to this program being taught in English for the first time, explains Kurt Jacobsen and continues:

- So the program was not offered to international students in the initial application process, only in the later application rounds, which were also infested with obstacles. However, we did manage to accept 5 qualified international students.

- The spring proved a very educational and busy period for us as we had to translate all the information related to the new program, and we also had to specify the admission requirements. However, we are on the right path now and should be ready for the international student intake next year. And then this bomb drops!, says Jeppe Groot.

New concept with 28 alumni from the private sector

Lastly, the MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program now includes a new and unique initiative aimed at making the program more professionally relevant and preparing graduates for the challenges of the job market: a mentoring scheme based on a network of 28 alumni form the business community.

- This is actually a ground-breaking concept. In relation to the reformation of the program we were able to mobilize a significant number of graduates of the former version of the program; a network of 28 alumni from various branches of the business community, says Kurt Jacobsen and continues:

- It is a brand new mentoring scheme: 28 mentors – almost one mentor per two students; and these mentors are to guide and advise graduates in relation to their entrance into the job market. The initiative is funded by CBS as the management was thrilled about the idea, and also saw the perspectives including making this initiative a role model at CBS.

Policy shift regarding surplus of undergraduates, however…

CBS management believes that these programs are essential to CBS’ profile, and CBS is willing to fund the programs. The program director and the deputy chairman of the study committee are both very pleased and grateful for the guarantees put forward by CBS.

As 75 students were accepted into the BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program this year, the worst case scenario is that CBS will have to independently fund 45 of these students in 2017, at a price of DKK 45,000 per student. This number could potentially rise to 90 students in 2018.

After this announcement from CBS management, the Minister of Higher Education and Science, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, was quoted saying that the Ministry will finance all students, who are legally entitled to a graduate program at CBS.

Whether or not this implies that CBS will be forced to curtail student intake, starting next year in relation to the BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy program, in order for CBS to be able to cut the specific graduate program student intake down to just 17 students remains unanswered.

Will the Ministry admit to the mistakes?

- None of these questions have been answered. It has come to my attention that representatives from CBS management are scheduled for a meeting with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and I expect that they will have to rethink this whole thing, says the program director, and remarks that:

- The worst thing about Government officials and ministers is that you can never get them to admit that they have made a mistake, especially not when an election is just around the corner. 


Relations between the BSc- and MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy, and the business community:


Advisory Board

Frederik Wiedemann, Director of Analytics, Politiken Analytics

Claus Frier, Senior Engagement Manager, Engagement International

Esben Hegnsholt, Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group

Jacob Holm Hansen, Strategic Communications Advisor, Lyngby Taarbæk Municipality

Rasmus Grue Christensen, Director of the Secretariat, Radikale Venstre (Danish political party)

Nicolai Thyssen, Executive Editor, Information (Danish newspaper)

Morten Hesseldahl, Theatre Manager, the Royal Danish Theatre

Mentoring network

A new initiative enables graduate students to seek advice from mentors from the newly established alumni network. These mentors possess extensive expertise in terms of making the connection between theoretical knowledge and practical application. The mentor program will be implemented during 2014-2015. The agenda of the program is to guide and advise graduate students in order to facilitate a successful entrance into the job market.

There are currently 28 mentors in the network and they represent various organizations and corporations, e.g. Maersk, BCG, PA Consulting, William Demant Holding, Telenor, the Ministry of Finance, and Venstre (Danish political party).