Should I study international development

The end of a field of study

From the 2013 winter semester, the International Development bachelor's degree will be abolished despite its great popularity. The quality of care is not guaranteed.

Vienna. It was speculated for a long time, now it is fixed: As of the 2013 winter semester, it will no longer be possible to enroll for the International Development (IE) bachelor's degree at the University of Vienna. Or, as the rectorate of the University of Vienna puts it in a somewhat complicated way: “The process is not yet final, but in fact it is.” The reason: “The University of Vienna has appointed professors and its own institute has been set up. Despite these efforts, it is not possible to ensure the appropriate quality of supervision for a bachelor's and master's degree, ”says Vice Rector Christa Schnabl to the“ press ”.

The University of Vienna's plan: the new master’s course should begin in the winter semester, while the bachelor’s degree should end. Access to the master’s program for students from a wide variety of bachelor’s degrees could be made possible through extension curricula, i.e. through free elective subjects. The curriculum for the master’s degree, including the entry requirements, is currently being drawn up and should be decided in June.

The IE Bachelor's degree was popular among the students: a good 600 newcomers had registered in the past winter semester - when the course first started in autumn 2002 there were only exactly 88. Today there are a total of around 3,000 international development students in Vienna. Too many for the university's few resources - but the study cannot be restricted. Not even through an "emergency paragraph", as is the case with journalism and psychology: According to the law, this may only be used for studies for which a numerus clausus applies in Germany.


Established in Scandinavia

The University of Vienna is so far the only one in the German-speaking area that offers such a degree. "It has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, and neighboring countries are also working on introducing such courses," says IE program director Margarete Grandner. Such studies have long been established in Scandinavia, Great Britain, the USA and Canada. It is a shame that there will be no complete studies in Austria in the future.

Wouldn't the University of Vienna miss out on an opportunity to specialize and distinguish itself by abolishing the bachelor's degree? "With the interdisciplinary master's program in International Development, a special offer with a technical foundation has been created," says Schnabl.

Since its inception, the course has had to fight for its existence again and again. Even before he took office last year, Heinz Engl, Rector of the University of Vienna, threatened to cut courses. If there was no more money, his university could abolish individual subjects in order to cope with the growing number of students with stagnating funds.

The IE course was in a "difficult situation", the rectorate said at the time. And: "Now we are discussing what framework conditions are needed so that they can go into a good, solid future." It is important to ensure the best possible quality of studies and to improve the intensity of student support. In spring, the students also had to worry about the master’s degree, which was originally supposed to start in October. After heated debates, an interim solution was found.


Protest this week

The ÖH and student representatives repeatedly called for protests against the planned abolition of the bachelor's degree, most recently in December of the previous year. Apparently it didn't do much. A “university-wide protest week” is now planned from April 17th to 20th against the abolition of the bachelor's degree. "The decision was neither democratic nor transparent and also shows that it is no coincidence that such a critical course as the IE has to fight for its existence," said a circular from the Austrian Students' Union.

She calls on the rectorate to revise the abolition and in future prefer to “fight alongside the students for the funding of the universities”. There are also protests on Facebook, where the “IE remains” group was recently founded.

It already has more than 630 supporters - but none of this will be of any use.

At a glance

Since 2002 there is the study of international development at the University of Vienna. At that time only 88 students enrolled, last semester there were already more than 600. Nevertheless, the bachelor's degree will be abolished from the winter semester 2012/13, followed by a master's degree. The quality of care is not guaranteed, so it was decided to abolish it, it is said
from the rectorate.

("Die Presse", print edition, April 16, 2012)