The Communication Science Bachelor’s degree (BCW) needs a serious overhaul, recommends the programme committee headed by Communication professor Peter Feindt in its improvement plan.
The student intake was so small that there was a threat of the degree programme having to close last summer. BCW now has three years to turn things around. The Bachelor’s programme has struggled from the start to attract enough first years. Only once did it manage to get more than 20 first years, the number Wageningen University considers to be the critical lower limit. The current academic year was a low point with only eight new students. Ironically, the lack of interest has nothing to do with the quality as the Wageningen degree actually heads the list in the higher education guide
THE KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
- BCW should get a new name.
- BCW should have six focus areas. The initial topics will be health, nutrition, urbanization, climate change, nature management and sustainability.
- A new introductory module will acquaint students with the focus areas, after which they will choose one topic. A life sciences minor worth 24 ECTS credits will be compulsory.
- More focus on the individual student, especially in modules with lots of minor students from other degree courses.
- There will be coordinated PR and recruitment activities.
The programme committee thinks more students will come if they put more emphasis in the course on the link with the life sciences. ‘We are different to other communication degrees,’ says Feindt. ‘In addition to teaching communication science, we also offer in- depth training in one life science discipline.’ The idea is that the Bachelor’s degree should have a new name (yet to be decided) that reflects its unique identity. Strangely enough, the name ‘Communication Science’ is itself only three years old; the degree started out as Applied Communication Science. In practice the change of name only pushed student numbers down further. Feindt had not yet moved to Wageningen back then. ‘The consensus opinion was that the programme should be brought more in line with degrees elsewhere. But we’re not the same we are different.’