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Small business languages to be phased out

Skrevet af Bjørn HyldkrogJesper Snedker Adamsen, (versioning) - Foto: Morten Andersen - fotomani.dk - 3. november 2015 - 10:449 kommentarer
In a few years, business language education at CBS will be limited to just one language, English.

After the board’s strategy seminar, October 22nd and 23rd, CBS’ senior management made the drastic decision to phase out the variations of the BA in Intercultural Market Communication and the BA in European Business with German, French and Spanish, as well as Japanese, which is part of the Asia Studies Programme. 

In a few years, CBS will stop offering several of its current business language programs; and as early as in relation to next year’s student intake, German, French, and Spanish will no longer be offered as part of the Intercultural Market Communication and European Business programs. Simultaneously, Japanese will be phased out of the Asia Studies Programme (ASP).

Students already enrolled in the relevant programs will of course be allowed to complete their studies. ASP will continue to offer Chinese, but aside from Chinese, the range of business language programs at CBS will be limited to English, which is increasingly a second language for most Danes and not a foreign language.

The reason for senior management’s decision is the political decision to implement an efficiency requirement of 2 percent budget cutbacks annually as part of the new Administration’s national budget proposal; the information was distributed to the Danish universities earlier in the fall and according to information posted to CBS’ intranet by senior management, the number of applicants for the programs in question is low and decreasing.

- Dimensioning of programs has always been a part of CBS and will continue to be, says President Per Holten-Andersen and continues:

- The programs we are phasing out have had low numbers of applicants for some years now. The number of students in each class has been decreasing and graduates from these programs have experienced increasing unemployment rates compared to graduates from other CBS programs. Thus, we have decided to phase out these programs. However, we intend to maintain the overall student intake level.

The inevitable death of some academic environments

Head of the Department of International Business and Communication Alex Klinge is expectedly not pleased with the decision for several reasons, not least the fact that several of his closest colleagues will see their areas of expertise disappear from CBS’ program catalogue.

- It’s a catastrophe. It is a strategic decision based on acute financial pressure on CBS, which makes our colossal investment of efforts directed at increasing the relevance and popularity of these programs a complete waste, says Alex Klinge, but recognizes that:

- Language education is really expensive. Classes are small, the application of pedagogy is expensive, and drop-out percentages are high because of the academic level is takes to master any one language. In the short run, the phasing out of these languages will entail an irreversible shutdown of 4 academic environments at CBS and negative consequences for the IBC programs’ brand in relation to interlinguistic and intercultural communication.

However, Alex Klinge is also worried about other aspects beside the imminent and unfortunate scenario his department is currently facing, i.e. the scenario that it will become common practice for Danish universities to phase out non-profitable programs for financial reasons:

- With the decision to close these programs CBS practically unloads the challenge of foreign language education on the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University, who are obligated by law to offer foreign language education and thus will continue to offer relevant programs; however, the difference is that language education at these universities is not taught within a business framework as CBS is practically the only remaining institution that offers business language programs.

Still Spanish, German and French with the BLC

However, senior management’s decision does not mean that business language education in German, French and Spanish disappears completely from CBS’ program portfolio.

Business language education will be phased out of the specific programs mentioned above, but German, French and Spanish will still be offered as part of the BSc in Business, Language and Culture.

- Our decision is not to be interpreted as an attempt to remove business language education from our program portfolio. The decision is based on the fact that small classes are not financially sustainable in the longer run, says President Per Holten-Andersen and stresses that:

- So yes, CBS will continue to offer a variety of business languages as long as the number of students enrolled in these programs exceeds the critical mass, i.e. that it is financially sustainable in the longer run, which means that we need to register a sufficient, continual number of applicants, and we need to see a satisfying employment rate among graduates from these programs.

The phasing out of business language education in German, French and Spanish in relation the BA in Intercultural Market Communication and the BA in European Business frees up a number of study places, which will be distributed among a number of programs to which CBS wants to increase the student intake levels – also a decision based on financial perspectives. Specifically which programs this decision involves is yet to be revealed. 

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