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Students help university spend its money

Despite low attendance, internationals made bold statements about what they want from the University of Copenhagen at Thursday’s Innovation Camp

The University is ready, with DKK 10 million at hand, to improve the education it offers to students. And it looked to these students to decide just how during a day-long brain-storming workshop, held at the Grey Hall in Christiana on Thursday 11 November.

During the introductory welcome, the Rector promised to derive synergies from merged faculties and incorporate the ideas the students come up with.

»In innovation, you cannot go from criticism to solution. You have to figure out what the need is. Look at the criticism and work with the needs,« said Hanne Harmsen, the Vice-Provost for Education.

Click here to see a photo gallery of the day’s activities.

An ‘international-friendly’ university

The main issue under discussion amongst the international students was the urgent need to incorporate more English in to its administration and teaching methods. One student even insisted that all classes should be held in English. The suggestion may have been inspired by the lack of English spoken at the day-long event.

In the event focussing on expanding the university’s horizons, all the talks, including the Rector’s welcome speech were in Danish. Internationals were seated separately, segregated from the Danish students, with Harmsen acting as a translator.

»It’s stupid that they would invite us here and then not speak in English. Maybe they don’t really want us here. They should encourage more interactions and mix groups in such events.« said Olivia Kern, a German student at the Faculty of Life Sciences ruefully.

Receptive rector

All the ideas produced from the brain storming session will be condensed in to a document which will be read by the rector, the deans and a team working on education at the university. This will be followed by another meeting with the staff and students in December.

Around DKK 10 million has been allocated for improving education and making it more student- friendly. There will be a direct approach implemented on the smaller projects and a more strategic one on the broader topics.

»You all are welcome to the staff meeting. There will be international lecturers and we are always interested in listening to your points of view,« explained Harmsen to the International students.

Expansion is the need of the hour

»Although the University of Copenhagen is good at research, there is not enough focus on education,« said Lars Goldsmith, the Director of Danish Industries, in his talk.

Students seemed to agree with Lars’ belief that the key to global competitiveness is to challenge the whole personality of students. But they felt that the policy has to implemented with the keeping the international students in mind as well.

»Make international diversity a key objective of the University’s strategy and watch how KU’s value as an international university goes up,« affirms Ioana Moisa from Romania and a prospective student at KU next year.

Slim pickings

Despite the administration’s hope that 500 students would attend the planning workshop, less than 100 made it. Ideas posted to the walls of the auditorium after were proof that the day was still productive, though.

After the workshop, two bands – Charms and Bells and Mother Earth – played for the students, who were exhausted after a day of planning for the university. Approximately 20 attendees actually stayed for the music and party, anchored by the free beer and concert.

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