University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Dead students walking

What is it like to follow a study programme that is soon to shut down? We asked two humanities students

Last spring the Faculty of Humanities decided to close down five small language and culture study programmes. Yet the current students still have to finish their bachelor’s programmes. 58 students had to therefore enter into a completely new reality, when they turned up for class in September.

Their study programmes have been closed down for further admissions, and many of the master’s programmes have already been closed down.

“I get the feeling that we have just been allowed to ‘die’,” says Anna Holm Sorensen, a student on the Finnish programme.

Long and messy business

As a consequence of the previous Liberal government’s cuts to research and education, admissions to subjects like Southeast Asian Studies were stopped immediately. The Tibetology, Finnish, Southeast Asia Studies and Indology programmes were closed as full study programmes.

“The professors I was associated with have disappeared. There is nobody associated with us as students. It is as if the ‘grown-ups’ have gone away and we just do not get teaching and counselling of the same quality any more”- Mads Kreutzmann, student of Southeast Asian Studies

The bachelor students have been forced to apply to other master’s programs. Students in Finnish, for example, can now look forward to Linguistics as their continuing master’s programme.

Student counselling has helped several students who are looking for opportunities to study abroad or switch study programmes.

“The process has been handled like this, because everything had to go so incredibly fast,” says Mads Kreutzmann, a student at Southeast Asia Studies.

He continues: “People have been dismissed and sent away immediately, and I sense that there has been no clear message about what was going to happen and – in particular – why. It has been a messy process. Ever since I started, the administrative routines have been messed up, and it’s not the first time that we have been threatened with a shutdown. It is not surprising that we have been closed down, but I think a huge loss of knowledge has taken place.”

Where have all the grown-ups gone?

Both Anna Holm Sørensen and Mads Kreutzmann are almost finished with their bachelor’s degree, and when you inquire about their plans for the future, you get very different answers.

Anna Holm Sorensen does not feel that her study programme matters to the university:

“Nobody in my study programme is interested in following it up with the master’s programme we have been offered. We are all angry about it being linguistics. This is a really specialized subject which requires skills that I do not have. I do not know what to do. No one has made it clear to us how it will take place, other than that we should maybe have to write a small assignment. Then we would figure out how to study linguistics.”

While the students of Finnish have been offered an alternative master’s programme, bachelor students at Tibetology, Indology and South East Asia Studies have been brought together under a new umbrella master’s programe called ‘cross-cultural studies’.

Mads Kreutzmann is unsure about his plans for further study.

“So we have a legal right to finish our studies. It may well be that we have been offered something else, but I have not heard anything. In the sense that they have fired the professors, it will be hard to continue on the study programme. Compared to my first year of study, this is now very different. The professors I was associated with have disappeared. There is nobody associated with us as students. It is as if the ‘grown-ups’ have gone away and we just do not get teaching and counselling of the same quality any more”.

Uncertain future

Student counsellor at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies Erik Wernberg-Tougaard has found that the students in the beginning were incredibly angry about the cuts and felt powerless. The anger has now steamed off a little, but many students still do not know how to deal with the consequences of programme closures at the Humanities faculty.

“More students come in every day for guidance and counselling, and more students than ever are examining the possibility of changing their study programme completely. The students see no future in going through an education programme that is being closed down,” writes Erik Wernberg-Tougaard in an e-mail response to the University Post.

Anna Holm Sorensen is sceptical about the future of the master’s degree programme she has been offered. She is uncertain whether she will have anything to do with her bachelor’s degree, or if she will end up being able to do two things by half, with her only being interested in the one thing.

“When I say that everyone will just disappear, it’s because I’ve got this general impression that we will all just be allowed to ‘die’. We have been promised a specialization in Finnish, but I do not think that it’s going to happen. We will be lucky if this takes place,” says Anna Holm Sorensen, who has lost her trust in the faculty.