Differentiated brands and large-scale benefits

A delicate balance: We must ensure that our degree programmes are branded differently, yet we should benefit from economies of scale because several different degree programmes will be rooted in the same department, says Peder Østergaard, Vice-Dean of Education at Business and Social Sciences.


Education: Interview with Vice-Dean Peder Østergaard

Six departments constitute Business and Social Sciences, and this implies that degree programmes such as MSc in Economics and Management (cand.oecon.) and MSc in Economics and Business Administration (cand.merc.) in the future will live under the same roof at the Department of Economics and Business, while the overall responsibility for the MSc in Business Administration and Commercial Law (cand.merc.jur.) will be shared with the Department of Business Administration.
”Many departments will in future deliver teaching to several different degree programmes, implying  that the boards of studies will demand courses from several departments. This is a new thing to many of the former social science departments. It is important to ensure that our degree programmes are branded differently, yet we should benefit from economies of scale because several different degree programmes will be rooted at the same department,” says Peder Østergaard, Vice-Dean of Education.
It will require a clear-cut profile for both the MSc in Economics and Management (cand.oecon.) and the MSc programmes in Economics and Business Administration (cand.merc.). The two law programmes Master of Laws (cand.jur.) and the MSc in Business Administration and Commercial Law (cand.merc.jur.) will face the same challenge when both of these programmes in future will be based at the Department of Law and Administration.
”We will face major recruitment challenges if we do not make distinct and clear differentiation of our programmes, and if we are aiming at attracting more - or at least the same number of - applicants in future. It is also important to stress that the new organization will provide much better opportunities for students to take courses across the entire main academic area of Business and Social Sciences, and in the longer run also across the entire university. This will take effect for the students who are already enrolled in one of our programmes,” says Peder Østergaard.
He expects that students will be offered a wider range of options already during the next year because of an improved infrastructure.

Six study boards and one general study board

To ensure close relations to the academic fields and student commitment to degree programmes in the new organizational structure, a study board will be set up for each of the six main educational fields:

  • Language and Business Communication (ling.merc.)
  • Psychology (psych.)
  • Political Science (scient.pol.)
  • Economics and Business Administration (merc.)
  • Economics and Management (oecon.)
  • Law and Administration (jur. and merc.jur.)

To increase student mobility across departments at Business and Social Sciences, thereby supporting the internal education market, one general study board will also be established.  
”The study boards will be responsible for planning the subject-specific degree programmes, teaching, exams and the quality assurance of these activities. The general study board will have a particular focus on borderline cases between the field-specific study boards”,” says Peder Østergaard and elaborates:
”The primary task of the general study board will be to review cases involving ECTS credit transfer, student complaints and similar with a view to reaching consensus on procedures  across the six study boards, if possible. The general study board may also discuss the prevailing principles for teaching and evaluation, the role of external examiners, employer panels, etc. The general study board will also serve as strategic advisory body to the management group of Business and Social Sciences, e.g. development and implementation of new degree programmes.”

Changed framework conditions in higher education

According to Peder Østergaard, the structural changes that we are currently witnessing at Aarhus University and Business and Social Sciences should be seen in light of several influential factors:

  • The settings for higher education have been considerably altered since the original organization was established: Today it is no longer just 15 per cent, but rather 50 per cent of a young generation, who will complete a higher education, and therefore we also see more variation in student qualifications.
  • The financing of educations is under pressure, and at the same time IT, globalization and the Bologna process have a huge impact on the general conditions for education. We will have to consider the introduction of tuition fees in part in the coming years, just as increased application of IT and interactive media in teaching and exams also will be an issue for the new organization.


New degree programmes and degree combinations

One of the main objectives of establishing Business and Social Sciences is creation of more outstanding degree programmes, and Peder Østergaard can already point out several new combinations:
”Basic knowledge on legal conditions in combination with legal language skills may become a popular profile among major companies and organizations, and the health sector is under significant pressure and needs better education and training in management and leadership. It would also be obvious to combine marketing and psychology to obtain more knowledge on consumer behavior,” says Peder Østergaard.

Centre for Governance – aspects of management

Centre for Governance is a new construction consisting of three departments: Department of Psychology and Human Relations, Department of Public Policy and Administration and Department of Business Administration. In the longer term, this area will also generate entirely new degree programmes, predicts Peder Østergaard:
”We have a lot of experience with the education of specialists for many different sectors in society, but education in management and leadership for both private and public sectors is generally under-represented. This need will clearly increase in societies that must maintain a certain level of welfare while fewer and fewer people are working to support it, therefore the ability to prioritize, implement and communicate decisions - in consideration of shortage of resources - will become even more crucial. ”

Aarhus BSS, Tomorrow's Aarhus University