The protests against the Senior Management’s proposal to close down six programs, including the BSc in Business Administration and Philosophy (HA Fil) and the Cand. Soc in Political Communication and Management (PKL), have been intensifying since rumors about the proposal started swirling on Thursday November 11.
Right now, more than 350 current and previous students have expressed their discontent with the decision and formed alliances to carry out online and offline protests, according to Oliver Anton, who holds degrees from HA Fil and PKL and has co-initiated the protests.
“I have thrown myself at this, as it is evident that this is a bad decision and an example of insufficient management,” says Oliver Anton, who goes by they/them pronouns, and continues:
“If CBS carries on with the plan, CBS will become an ordinary business school with no ambition to create potential for change. We hope the debate we generate will make the signatory parties to the political agreement on cutting back the student intake question CBS about this procedure. Humanities are at risk at all Danish universities, and we need to stop talking about a move-out, when in fact we are talking about slaughter.”
An online petition “Stop the closure of Cand.Soc PKL, CBP, OIE + HA/Cand.Merc FLØK” has just been set up, and has, 132 signatures and counting.
In Oliver Anton’s time at CBS, they have not experienced any sort of student protests or riots over Senior Management decisions, indicating that this decision is out of the ordinary.
“It is a key point in itself that we have never seen this sort of activism at CBS, and Senior Management must be asking themselves whether what they are doing makes sense when we can mobilize 350 current and previous students. I believe this shows the scale of seriousness,” they say.
An email storm
The first protest was initiated at 07:55 in the morning on Friday November 12, when about 10 students from HA Fil began handing out flyers describing “Why HA Fil is the best study program in the world”, to the members of the CBS Board of Directors.
The students from HA Fil had showed up before dawn to have their “voices heard”, explains Leonore Lee Krarup Belling, who is studying for an MSc in Business Administration anf Philosophy degree.
The board meeting agenda featured an orientation of CBS’ plan for implementing study place reductions, which involved the Senior Management presenting the board with its plan to meet the government’s imposed 10% study place reduction. In total, CBS must reduce its intake by 628 study places by 2030.
“I was shocked when I heard this,” says Leonore Lee Krarup Belling, who is in her third year of the bachelor’s and had got wind of the content of the plan the evening before, and continues:
“We don’t know how the Board of Directors manages such decisions, but we wanted to make sure that they know why HA Fil is a good and important program before they agree to this. At a minimum, the plan should have been discussed with the Academic Council and CBS Students before it was seen by the Board of Directors. It’s a very opaque and undemocratic process.”
On Sunday November 14, more than 50 students and graduates conducted an email storm by sending out the same letter (Mailaktion_CBS.pdf) with criticism to 43 people in leading positions at CBS, arguing why closing the six programs contradicts CBS’ own vision and strategy, explains Oliver Anton, adding:
“CBS wants to be transformative and ask big questions, and the ambition is to implement that approach in all its study programs, which is good. But I believe we need to have programs where these are core aspects, which they already are on these programs.”
Leonore Lee Krarup Belling also believes HA Fil delivers exactly the kind of transformation that CBS is striving to achieve.
“We are looking into a future of uncertainty and change. Now, more than ever, we need to think beyond ‘business as usual’. We need people who are creative, curious, critical and cross-disciplinary in their approach. And this is exactly what characterizes students and graduates from HA Fil,” she says.
“Unemployment rates are retrospective”
CBS’ proposal to shut down the six programs is based on various principles, but the primary parameter is the unemployment rate.
For HA Fil, the average unemployment rate between 2016 to 2019 was 14.5%, and for the MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy, the unemployment rate in 2019 was 17.3%.
Both Leonore Lee Krarup Belling and Oliver Anton agree that CBS should not maintain programs where students are sent straight into unemployment. However, focusing solely on unemployment is too one-sided.
“Unemployment rates are retrospective and can only give an up-to-the-minute account. If you look at the positions the graduates end up in, they are really good. Also, instead of looking back, CBS should look ahead and see what profiles are needed in three to five years’ time,” says Leonore Lee Krarup Belling.