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Open letter — »The Dean's decision to shut down all new student intake and then invoke the study environment as an argument for recommending closure is utterly hypocritical,« says students from Polish and Balkan Studies
Dear Ulf Hedetoft
Regarding the recent debate over your attitude to the closure of Polish and Balkan Studies, we feel the need to tell you what a ‘reasonable’ study environment really is for us. The study environments in Polish and Balkan Studies are not delimited, closed study environments. Quite the opposite, for many years they have been two parts of a larger whole, which includes Russian and Greece Studies to form the last two parts of a single study environment at Eastern and South Eastern European Studies.
Back in the summer of 2015 we set up the cooperation with a founding meeting for the association Fagbaren which is responsible for the joint study environment in the study programme. The association’s stated purpose was through social and professional events to strengthen the joint study environment across the three subjects.
It has been a success: Academically relevant contributions from teachers and guest lecturers, ongoing gatherings where teachers as well as students participate, theatre excursions and museum visits, student workshops with fellow students and teachers from the University of Aarhus. And not least, we maintained a weekly café where master’s students help new students with their readings. This has been possible because we, as a professional environment have applied for funding, including funding from the humanities council pool.
We think that you in a few years time will also decide to close the Russian programme, referring to its ‘bad’ study environment.
Internally at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies ToRS, they have for a long time supported, and welcomed our efforts, and when the student council organizes workshops on how to build a good study environment, we have for some time been cited as a textbook example. All this has happened despite unreasonable assumptions:
The move to the new KUA has to put it mildly, been a challenge, not just for our own study environment, but for the overall study environment at ToRS. The rooms that we have been assigned to hold Friday cafes are in no way suitable for the purpose. We are repeatedly promised things from central management that are not being fulfilled.
The closure of all new student intake is obviously devastating to the study environment ‘ecosystem’: No new students means less integration between the student year groups. Your decision to shut down all new student intake and then invoke the study environment as an argument for recommending closure is utterly hypocritical.
We are angry and frustrated by you wanting to close down our subject without even giving our desire for a merger of the subjects a hearing. This is something that both teachers and students support. Neither do you even know how our study environment works. By closing down two-thirds of our current study environment (and here we have not even mentioned the closure of Greece Studies) you also strongly reduce the social and academic environment in Russian. We begin to see a pattern and think that you in a few years time will also decide to close the Russian programme, referring to its ‘bad’ study environment.
Can this be arrogance or ignorance? You can easily have a good study environment in small subjects. And that’s exactly what we had.