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Students should go study abroad. This is what the Ministry of Education wants. But the government's new model will go in the complete opposite direction, argues Associate Dean at The Faculty of Humanities in this featured comment.
Seize the world?
On Monday 20 October, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science issued a press release about a new campaign – entitled Seize the world – to encourage more students to study and do internships abroad. Ideally, this should take place in emerging countries such as Brazil, Mexico or Turkey. The campaign slogan is: “Professional vision provides personal development”.
This ambition is hard to disagree with, but the timing could not be worse, as the kick-off of the campaign coincides with the debate on the government’s sizing model on education . This model is in many ways going to make it difficult to do just what the campaign so beautifully wants to promote.
To begin with, the cuts on study slots will make it impossible to include other students than so-called ‘legal requirements bachelors’ – the universities’ own BA students. However, it is not the objective of the campaign to attract international students to Denmark – one might argue – but to send out our own students abroad. This is true, of course. But internationalization efforts go both ways. It is important to internationalize the domestic study environment through international students – and it is important to nurture international relationships by receiving students from abroad because the partner universities thus will be more inclined to welcome our students in return.
Secondly, the sizing model hits foreign language programs hard, including programs such as Brazilian, Turkish, Indian and Chinese. These programs provide students with knowledge of the very emerging countries the government wishes them to be interested in. It is an open question whether these programs will survive the sizing model, the implementation of which the universities are planning at the moment at the Ministry’s behest. You can probably still study in Brazil without Brazilian competences, but deep, research-based knowledge of language and culture is and will continue to be essential to our country’s globalization efforts. If we cut these programs, we cut off the very branch we are sitting on.
Thirdly, these exact programs in the languages and cultures of emerging countries are exemplary as to the way in which internationalization is worked into their program structures. I.e. at Chinese Studies, students are guaranteed a study slot at a Chinese university during their time of study, and Chinese Studies maintains deep, professional relationships with its partner universities. Another example is Brazilian Studies at the University of Copenhagen where partnerships with companies in Rio are established. Partners who receive Danish students, and who – together with Brazilian students from partner universities – work with the companies.
So seize the world? Yes, well, there’s nothing we would rather do.
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