External supplemental courses: Do they have value?

Skrevet af Marie Spliid NeustrupFelix Kasperek, versioning - Foto: Jørn Albertus - 15. marts 2012 - 11:300 kommentarer
First year student Christian Dahl bought the entire semester package from the exam preparation company Aspiri; he feels that some of the money was well spent.

Every year, there’s a big buzz about the supplemental courses that CBS students are offered by various external teachers, such as the exam preparation company Aspiri. A large number of CBS students are happy with the offer, but others feel that they’ve been ripped off.

CBS students cough up cash for both good and bad
In the summer of 2011 a lot of new students started their career at CBS. One of them was Christian Dahl, an optimistic BSc Economics and Business Administration student, who was looking forward to getting started. Like many other first year students, his fear of exams showed up quickly and he felt unsure of what was expected of him at the exams. That’s why he felt forced to sign up for one of Aspiri’s external supplemental courses.

- Aspiri flyers are found on all the tables, so a kind of hysteria broke out. Studying for all the exams of the first semester is hard and people get put under a lot of pressure. Everyone else signed up for the courses so I felt I had to as well, says Christian Dahl, who felt that information from CBS about Aspiri’s supplemental courses was missing.

Christian bought Aspiri’s entire semester package, and even though some of the courses were worth the money, others were more confusing than helpful. As a new CBS student, he felt that CBS should take a stand against the external supplemental courses and offer more opportunities for supplementing exam preparation internally.

Aspiri and the others exploit the students’ uncertainty
Vice Dean for Education, Sven Bislev, is aware of the problem and very tired of the fact that Aspiri and others like them exploit the uncertainty the students have.

- They try in all sorts of ways to act like they’re a part of CBS and a natural part of studying. They leave flyers in our buildings even though we’ve asked them not to, several times each year, for the last ten years. So we’re under a lot of pressure from these people, who have one goal: making money off the students’ uncertainty, Sven Bislev explains.

Structural problems with the programs
At CBS Students, they think it’s a question of supply and demand, so the courses are only offered because there’s a demand for extra teaching. That means it’s not the external companies that are the problem, and one of CBS Students’ co-chairmen, Philip Hardø, instead thinks that the critique should be aimed inwards at CBS.

- There must be some structural problems with our programs. Maybe there aren’t enough funds for us to be able to provide the right amount of interactional classes and so on, and that means a demand for supplemental courses arises, like the ones Aspiri offers. That’s why the critique we have is actually aimed at the entire educational sector in general, and at the funding of our programs itself, says Philip Hardø.

Christian Dahl also thinks that there are structural problems in the program, since the exams are placed so close to each other, and he adds:

- The goal of the program must be to get the best economists out of it but I haven’t become a better economist by having three exams placed so close to each other. That just made me study for the first exam and then forget everything about it to be able to study for the next one, and so on.

Philip Hardø admits that there are generally a lot of exams at CBS and even though they’re a part of the culture at CBS, he thinks it would be too bad if we become so results-oriented that we lose sight of the process.

- One can argue that an education can be a lot of things, but first and foremost it should give the students certain competencies, says Philip Hardø.

CBS aims to solve the problem with revision-portals
Sven Bislev agrees that changes have to be made before the students no longer feel the need to take external supplemental courses.

- This is a discussion that comes up every six months. We always try to learn from it and change something. As our latest initiative, we’ve started offering various digital portals, where students can work on different elementary skills. Currently three courses are offered, but more are coming. We also try to do general ‘refreshers’ in as many courses as possible, to help fight the uncertainty the students feel, says Sven Bislev.

You can read more about CBS’ digital online repetition portals on www.cbs.dk.

CBS Students: Let’s get a debate going!
And that’s exactly what CBS student Christian Dahl is looking for. He knows that constructive criticism is the way to go, and suggested several mentor programs as well as access to old exams. His wish is to start a debate, so new students in the future will think twice about buying access to an external supplemental course. And on that point, CBS Students’ Philip Hardø agrees:

- I can understand why some students feel that they need external supplemental courses. But I think it’s a shame, because it’s a symptomatic indicator that our programs aren’t good enough. That’s why I want to encourage students to get involved in the debate, so we can get some concrete initiatives for improvement. What do you think of Aspiri’s courses? Why have you attended them? he asks, inviting students to join in the debate.

So what do CBS students think? Is there too much focus on individual exams? Do we forget to encourage the development of skills, because we study for one exam at a time, after which we forget about most of the curriculum, just so we can study for the next exam? And what can CBS do to make sure the students don’t feel the need to pay a lot of money for external supplemental courses before an exam?