Vice-Dean: The new study board structure provides advantages

Foto: Knud Holscher
Foto: Knud Holscher

It was decided during the summer, that the study board of Political Science, Social Studies, MOISL and Welfare Studies will be merged with Journalism and Sociology. The vice-dean for education at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Ole Friis, sees many advantages in making fewer and thus larger study boards at the faculty. But he also admits, that the merge is a consequence of financial cut downs.

“Recently we have got a new study reform (studiefremdriftsreform). This has meant, that we have to make sure that the students feel they have equal rights. If you look across the study boards today, you soon realize that there is quite a difference in practice between the study boards,” says Ole Friis.

Thus it is especially the students’ rights, the vice-dean is pointing out.

“We have to make sure that all students have the same rights. It should not be that because you belong to one study board you can get something approved, while others, belonging to a different study board, cannot”.

The study boards are autonomous. The faculty cannot say, that they should all work in the same way, but the merge can reduce the differences, believes the vice-dean.

Also a consequence of the financial cut downs
The study board is a democratic decision making body, that among others deals with exemption cases and approves course descriptions.

In the new structure every study program will have fewer representatives sitting in the study board. This in itself isn’t necessarily a problem, according to Ole Friis:

“We can learn from each other’s experiences, and thus being able to work better together”

The vice-dean himself raises the question whether all relevant competences are covered with only five student representatives, to which he replies:

“No, it is not necessarily so, but it is already true today. But we try to compensate this, by making some subgroups that may provide input”.

The new structure is also a consequence of the financial cut downs at the university. The merge of the study boards is a part of the savings plan of the Faculty of Social Sciences, tells Ole Friis.

“The study reform has meant an increased workload due to a growing number of applications for exemption, thereby increasing costs, and if we do not reduce the cost here, we have to find money somewhere else. Thus we are trying to avoid a cost increase, that would otherwise be at the expense of the study programs.”

Although the cost would be even less, there will not be one large study board for all the programs at the faculty, because they believe, that the programs represented through the study boards should still be similar professions. The vice-dean therefore hopes, that the departments will set up a kind of academic council or committee:

“We will not directly establish a formal committee, but what we would like to see is an academic council or committee, there where the departments, including VIP and students, think it makes sense and at the request of the study boards,” says Ole Friis and continues:

“If we establish formal committees, they need to have a secretary and so on, then we have in fact done something that is more expensive than before. After all, we need to prioritize our expanses.”

Differences between the study programs
Even though there are similarities between the programs in the new study board, the programs all have different courses and processes. For example, Journalism has an internship in the 5. Semester. The merge is not going to affect the way students’ cases will be dealt with:

“In fact there is no difference at all. If there are unusual conditions, then you can get an exemption. There is by law no difference what you can get an exemption for as a student of journalism or political science, just to mention one example. One should not be allowed to prolong their studies in one program, if you are not also allowed to do so in the other programs. The students are entitled to this kind of certainty within the same study board”, says Ole Friis.

Have you experienced complaints concerning differences in processing?

“You never get a complain if you say yes to an application. We never got a complain where somebody argued that in other programs they may do that – But we do get complains from some students, which applications got rejected and where the approach is probably different in another study board,” says Ole Friis

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Katharina Elisabeth Mootz

Translator at Skaberstaten. Newly graduate MSc in Comparative Public Policy and Welfare Studies from SDU.

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