The first class on the BA in Public Policy

A new class of students on the new BA programme in Public Policy have begun their studies, working in the intersection between economics and political science. We have spoken to the student orientation secretaries, the director of studies and one of the new Public Policy students about what the first weeks have been like.

2014.10.02 | Ingrid Marie Fossum

It all started with the student orientation week. Throughout the week, the new students participated in sports events and team building activities, there was a stand-up comedy show, and they went on the traditional pub crawl. But the students were also faced with more academic activities, such as company presentations and presentations by researchers Christoffer Green Pedersen and Nina Smith. Director of Studies on the Public Policy programme Lars Skipper bade them all welcome and ensured the students that they have indeed chosen the right programme, which will open up a whole range of career opportunities for them once they graduate.

The goal of the orientation week is for the students to get to know and feel comfortable around each other before the teaching really begins. So, after a rough orientation week and camping trip, they had to be ready for real student life to begin Monday morning at 8 o’clock.

Student orientation secretaries Ask Lyno-Hansen and Mads-Peter Helle Boesen had been thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to organise the camping trip immediately after the orientation week, as is tradition at the Department of Political Science and Government. They could have postponed the trip to late September, like they do at Economics and Business. But it was the camping trip that really made the students come together.

“The group of people that we left with was completely changed when we got back,” explains Ask Lyne-Hansen and proceeds to emphasise the success they had in collaborating with the team building company summit.nu.

Who are they?

Of the 33 new students, only 11 are girls. But it’s not so bad as one might have feared, taking into consideration that there are very few girls who study economics and business. Approximately 25 per cent of the students are not really new to the university, because they have studied before. Therefore, the average age is slightly higher than with the first-year students of Political Science.

The Public Policy students attend lectures together with the students of political science and economics, but they have their own seminar classes. To avoid becoming schizophrenic in a sense and drowning in all that economics and business and political science have to offer, it is important to start building a shared identity for those studying and teaching Public Policy. That is why the student orientation secretaries, the tutors and director of studies Lars Skipper are very determined to get a good start, and then afterwards the students will take responsibility for establishing a good study environment, for instance by setting up student associations and organising their own parties.

“It’s great that the new students get to define their own study environment,” says Lars Skipper, who is director of studies on the Public Policy programme.

What will they be when they graduate?

In the director of studies’ welcome speech to the students as well as the presentations during the orientation week, it was made very clear that the Public Policy students have strong career prospects.

“We are wildly ambitious on behalf of these new students in terms of their careers,” says Lars Skipper and proceeds:

“It’s important to point out that this is not a vocational training programme. By studying Public Policy, you will not limit yourself to a job at the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the State or the Ministry of Economic Affairs. But a lot of our graduates [from Economics and Business and Political Science and Government] end up there, and it’s the primary career ambition for a lot of them.”

Marius Morthorst is a new student on the Public Policy programme, and he is very pleased with the range of opportunities that this programme opens up to:

“Acquiring this special knowledge and strong analytical tools – this is definitely something I’m looking forward to being able to use, both in my education and my work in the future.”

During the orientation week, several of the presenters said that if this programme had existed back when they had to choose what to study, this is what they would have chosen.

“We got the sense that this is a highly privileged programme,” says Ask Lyno-Hansen.

Two classes next year

Hopefully, more students will start to see the unique opportunities in combining political science with economics – where you no longer have to choose between these two lines of study. Having this programme also means that fewer students will transfer from one programme to the other in the future.

Because the approval of the Public Policy programme came late, there was not enough time for marketing the programme this year. As a result, the goal for there to be two classes was not fulfilled. But hopefully next year, more students will have heard about and become interested in this programme, which gives them the chance to acquire both public administration tools and a whole lot of knowledge about economics. 

Also, next year the student orientation week will be led by real Public Policy students, who can share their own experiences with the new students. 

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