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Humanities students: mixed feelings about new rules

The UCPH humanities faculty is the slowest in the country. In an effort to speed things up, the allotted time for finishing a Master's degree was reduced by 6 months. Students are of two minds about the change in rules

“The administration needs to recognize that Stuff Happens, and not kick out students that are trying their best to finish as soon as possible” says Niklas Nisbeth. “While it is reasonable to expect most students to complete an MA in the allotted time, the system needs to be flexible enough to allow for illness and other outside events, as well as some shifts in focus.”

Niklas, a recent graduate from the Faculty of Humanities, made this statement in response to newly proposed regulations seeking to limit the MA degree to a maximum of 2 ½ years. This is to be achieved through implementation of an 11 step plan. The steps include improving teaching to ensure more contact with teaching faculty, more compatible course combinations and study plans, and closer thesis monitoring, amongst others.

These changes are the result of intense pressure from politicians and the government to improve efficiency in the universities. The MA degree at UCPH, offered by the HUM, is currently the slowest in the entire country.

2 ½ year target

Niklas, who is a former student of MA in Linguistics, took 4 years to complete his master’s degree. He attributes multiple delays to illness and an internship abroad. He also changed course during his degree which meant that he had to take extra classes.

“Studies mean acquiring new knowledge and new insights, and that will sometimes mean that you discover new interests” he continues. “I think the system should provide some leeway to allow for this, but whether that’s in the form of giving an extra year or six months by default as under the current system, or by requiring that students apply for extensions is unimportant.”

Emma Sorgaard, who is about to start her MA, holds an opposing view: she believes that such organization and structure would be advantageous in helping her complete her degree in 2 ½ years, which is currently her target.

It ain’t easy

Emma considered some propositions to be positive across the board. One example is the rethinking of the current division between work done during the semester and exams, which will force students to work with the subject matter throughout the semester, increasing the quality of what is learned.

While these statements may reflect the feeling of some students on the ground, the HUM administration is under fire to improve efficiency. While the official duration of the MA is 2 years, the average finishing time is currently 4 years. Up to 65 enrolled students showed no signs of activity from the beginning prompting discontinuation by the administration.

Proposed measures include improvement of teacher to student contact with introduction of mentoring and stringent thesis supervision. However, this may increase the workload for both students and faculty, which has its own disadvantages. Many MA students have jobs or families, which means they have to split their time. 37 hours per week spent at campus, even without such responsibilities, may prove difficult to achieve.

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