Wide range of programs no problem at CBS

Skrevet af Jannick Friis ChristensenTranslated by Felix Kasperek - Foto: iquoncept @ dreamstime - 16. januar 2014 - 11:030 kommentarer
Minister of Higher Education Morten Østergaard wants to cut down the number of programs at Danish universities – but employment and income after graduation CAN’T be the criteria?

In the days after Christmas, Minister of Higher Education Morten Østergaard stirred up a storm when he announced that the multitude of programs currently offered by the Danish universities are in need of a serious culling. CBS’ Dean of Education Jan Molin thinks that the discussion is somewhat pointless.

Minister of Higher Education wants less educational programs
Christmas was hardly over before Minister of Higher Education Morten Østergaard presented his New Year’s diet for the country’s eight universities: they have to cull the approx. 1,500 programs that the universities offer in total.

The Minister’s critique was that the so-called jungle of programs makes the potential students face an unfair choice and needlessly complicates the employers’ assessment of the relevance of the various programs.

At the same time, Morten Østergaard criticized the taximeter funding system for encouraging universities to create additional programs that can lure new students in and thereby increase revenue.

Backed up by employers
The suggestion of fewer university programs comes as a prelude to this year’s reform of higher education and both the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Chamber of Commerce are positive towards the idea.

The employer organizations expressed that only small nuances separate the programs, but the nuances are big enough for it to create confusion among employers.

A member of The Danish Council for Research Policy, Flemming Besenbacher of the University of Aarhus agreed with Morten Østergaard’s new discourse with the argument that the many different programs dilutes the quality of the Danish academics.

Dean of Education: What seems to be the problem?
Deam of Education Jan Molin doesn’t agree with Morten Østergaards criticism:

- That we here at CBS need restrictions on admissions on all programs and on top of that have the largest share of first priority applications shows that the students aren’t struggling to choose, Jan Molin explains and elaborates:

- It shows that we aren’t just focused on volume but that we carefully work with controlled growth, where we can ensure the quality of each program. The alternative to many programs is few programs with many students enrolled – which will hardly benefit quality.
In general, the Dean of Education doesn’t think that the minister’s critique is justified:

- We’re accredited by the state’s own accreditation institution [ACE Denmark, ed.] and the prerequisite for accreditation is interest from employers and a high degree of employment after graduation, says Jan Molin.

Business economists with different specialties
According to the dean, CBS has introduced 15-20 new programs over the course of the last five years, but the programs can be boiled down to five main types.

- We usually say that they train engineers at the Technical University of Denmark and we train business economists here at CBS. There’s a choice of different directions, of course, such as e.g. politics or psychology, Jan Molin tells and adds:

- The number of bachelor-level programs stimulates the young people’s desire for higher education. The days of the broad, general basic programs are over. All statistics of the admission numbers show this clearly.

The industries closely involved with all CBS programs
Jan Molin has a hard time understanding the difficulties the employers allegedly face, when it comes to figuring out what’s what in the different programs.

- In my view, the industries are being accommodated to a high degree at CBS. We have ‘Advisory Boards’ for every program, the Dean of Education emphasizes and continues:

- We also have internal rota evaluations, and the Confederation of Danish Industry is involved in those.

CBS Students don’t see the problem either
The students themselves have a hard time seeing what the problem is too. The president of CBS Students, Charlotte Gjedde, doesn’t have an impression of students struggling to choose a program at CBS.

- It’s not a problem I recognize. But if it truly is the case, then I’d say it’s a question a bad guidance, says Charlotte Gjedde.

The CBS Students president considers it a strength that the students get to specialize themselves within a certain field, and emphasizes that it’s an advantage for the industries as well.

CBS Students thereby agree with Danske Studerenes Fællesråd (Danish Students’ Council, ed.), who have compared Morten Østergaard’s statement as a totalitarian political shutdown of programs, conflicting with the current principles of academic independence.

Employment and income will NOT be criteria
Should the minister choose to make a New Year’s Resolution out of his statement of culling the number of programs, CBS’ Dean of Education doesn’t expect it to have any effect on CBS.

- We have no black lists at CBS. We support continuity and development; key terms in education, Jan Molin asserts.

Morten Østergaards statement comes in the aftermath of The Danish Productivity Commission’s recently published analysis of the relationship between quality and quantity in the Danish educational system.

The minister has said no to a number of the commission’s recommendations, however, that e.g. pertain to rewarding the universities that can prove that their students get jobs and high incomes after graduation.