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Tanja Andersen finished her bachelor's degree in Japanese studies last summer and has spent a semester improving her skills outside university. But now her application to continue with her master’s has been rejected, and she is left with no way to finish her education
Tanja Andersen has got stuck inside the education system. When she finished her bachelor’s programme, she chose to spend a semester on a programme of self-study. She took a translation course in Japanese, in preparation for her specializationon her master’s. But when she subsequently applied, she was rejected. There were no places for students who have no legal right to continue.
As Tanja Andersen had chosen to take a semester off from university, she had waived her legal right to take the master’s degree that ‘naturally followed’ her bachelor’s programme.
The rules have tripped up Tanja Andersen, who is now helplessly stuck with no path forward towards the education of her dreams.
“It is extremely frustrating. The last year of my bachelor’s degree had been unusually hard, and I needed to get back my motivation. When I found this self-study course, it seemed like a great opportunity. It was an opportunity for me to be better equipped for my specialization and would be a good foundation for my optional study subjects. It all seemed great. I could not imagine that it would keep me from getting in. I then discovered that all applications take place in a system that does not care whether you are skilled or motivated,” says Tanja Andersen.
According to Tanja Andersen the most confusing part of the whole process has been the counselling. It is as if no-one has an overview of all the rules, procedures and consequences. As if no person can really find their way around the jungle they call “the University’s administrative system” – and that in some cases, they simply do not know who to ask.
Tanja Andersen describes the counselling she has received as well-meaning, but incomplete. The student counselor was brand new on the job and the conversation with him left her without clarification. She tried to go to the HUM student services, but had trouble finding their opening hours and their facilities. They had, from one day to another, just switched rooms, she says.
“I then discovered that all applications take place in a system that does not care whether you are skilled or motivated”, Tanja Andersen, bachelor in Japanese
“You go to all sorts of different supervisors for information, while the perhaps most important body, the HUM student services, was not to be found. Just give me the numbers – give me something specific that I can relate to! You use an enormous amount of energy to give yourself the best options, and then you find out that you have been wrong all the time. And you cannot do anything to get back on track. It’s just so frustrating,” she says, adding: “I simply could not imagine that I would not get in. I could not imagine that a good student, who alone in her class had completed the studies in the prescribed time and who wanted to continue in the same field of study – a student who plans her life and who does not try to cheat the system by failing exams and postponing subjects … Yes, I could simply not foresee such an absurd outcome.”
Jens Erik Mogensen, Associate Dean for Education at the Faculty of Humanities, can not recognize the criticism, but has no insight into the specific case.
“The study counselling services at the Faculty of Humanities work particularly thoroughly with the Study Progress Reform, informing students that they lose their legal right to continue if they take a break after their bachelor’s program. With my knowledge of our skilled counselors, I cannot imagine that a counselor would guide a student to take a break between their BA and their MA,” he writes in his reply by e-mail.
”With my knowledge of our skilled counselors, I cannot imagine that a counselor would advise a student to take a break between their BA and their MA,” Jens Erik Mogensen, Associate Dean for Education at the Faculty of Humanities
He says that via the winter admissions process there is only one place on Japanese studies, and that it is shared with Chinese studies, so without a legal requirement, it is almost impossible to get in.
“My best advice is that the student attempts to apply again this summer. Here there are 10 seats on Japanese studies. But it may well be that they are all taken, so I cannot promise anything,” he writes.
In the years between 2015 and 2017, the University of Copenhagen is to cut almost 4,000 student places. 2,363 are from the master’s programmes, where especially the humanities and natural sciences have been hit hard.