Markus Spiske

As of September 1st 2017, UvA Economics and Business (FEB) will split up the bachelor’s in Economics & Business into two separate bachelor’s programmes: Business Administration and Economics & Business Economics. Both new bachelor’s degrees will focus on the international position of the University of Amsterdam and will therefore be in English. There will no longer be a Dutch and international stream, since they will be put together. However, Dutch students will still have the opportunity to follow their tutorials in Dutch, at least during the first year. There is definitely a lot of change to come, but what is the main reason for this division, what are the changes, and how is it going to be implemented?

Reasons for the change
Economics & Business is currently one of the largest bachelor’s degrees provided by the University of Amsterdam. Approximately 12.8% of all bachelor’s students enrolled in the academic year 2015-2016 chose this bachelor’s programme. The programme is rather broad since during the first year courses from four different disciplines – business administration, economics, business economics, and for the Dutch stream also fiscal economics – are provided. This broad first year used to be a unique selling point for the UvA, since no other university within the Netherlands offers a programme that includes all four disciplines during the first year. In the second year, students choose a specialisation, such as Business Administration, Accountancy & Control, Finance & Organisation, Economics & Finance, Economics, or they can continue with the Dutch bachelor’s in Fiscal Economics. Students therefore get the chance to base their choice for either of the specialisations on the experience they derived from the courses, instead of making that decision beforehand. This is especially useful to doubting students who cannot yet tell the difference between business economics and business administration, or do not know whether they prefer economics over business administration. On the other hand, students who do know which specialisation they would like to do may not be attracted by the diversity of the first year. For example, a student who wants to study business administration does not necessarily need the mathematics and quantitative statistics courses offered during the current first year of the bachelor’s for a successful continuation. The fact that the first year now offers too little of each specialisation is one of the reasons for the division.

Besides that, the University of Amsterdam, and mainly UvA Economics and Business, is becoming more and more internationally oriented. Last September, the faculty has been accredited a ‘Triple Crown’ status by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). This is a credible sign that the UvA is doing a great job on both a national and an international level. International acknowledgement is of great importance, especially in the field of economics and business. Due to globalisation, companies and economies have become more focused on international trade, and, therefore, it is important to study these concepts with an open mind and from an international perspective. The changes in the bachelor’s programme are meant to create this kind of mindset and perspective. Hopefully, the new programmes will attract more international students, so that the combination of internationally oriented courses and an international community will match reality better.

The changes
The division of the bachelor’s will lead to new curricula. The bachelor’s in Economics & Business Economics will resemble the current bachelor the most, although some slight differences will appear. First of all, the courses Marketing & Strategy and Organisation & Management will no longer be part of the programme, since these two courses are part of Business Administration. These courses will be replaced by Principles of Economics and Business, and Economics of Market and Organisations – which currently is in the second year of the bachelor’s programme. After the first year, the Fiscal Economics track parts from the bachelor’s, which was already the case in the original situation.

During the first semester of the second year, the courses provided will cover in-depth knowledge of statistics, econometrics, and the concept of money. During the second semester, it is time to choose a major: Economics or Business Economics, which is quite comparable to the current situation. During the first semester of the last year of the bachelor’s, every student is free to do whatever he or she feels like: study abroad, do an internship, do a minor, or choose electives that are related to the study field. The second semester of this third year will contain courses within the specialisation that was chosen in the second year, whereafter writing the thesis will be the final job to complete the bachelor’s.

The bachelor’s programme in Business Administration is quite different. Courses that will be provided during the first year are Principles of Economics and Business, Strategy & Organisation, Economics, Business Research Methods, Qualitative Data Analysis, Organisational Behaviour, Financial Accounting, and Business Operations and Processes.
During the second year, all departments of business are discussed (e.g. marketing, accounting, finance, innovation), and some supporting courses are provided. This year will give business students a solid base of business administration and the organisation of companies as such.
The third year is all about tailoring your own programme, for example, by focusing on obtaining some practical experience, but it’s actually quite the same as the third year of the other bachelor’s; students are free to go abroad, do an internship, or choose a minor. However, during the second semester of the third year, students are to choose a specialisation, which is either Management, Accountancy & Control, Finance, or Entrepreneurship & Digital Business. After the specialisation, the thesis follows.
A significant advantage to this new bachelor’s programme is that it will become possible for business students to get a master’s degree in Finance, Accountancy & Control, and Business Administration. Students who have chosen the Business Administration track in the current bachelor’s, for example, are not able to do so, since certain courses that are not provided during this track of the bachelor’s are required for enrolment in these master’s programmes.

Another difference with the current programme is the main language. At this moment, the programme is divided into two different streams: the Dutch and international stream. In the Dutch stream, most lectures and tutorials are obviously in Dutch. In the new programme, there will eventually be no distinction between the two. All lectures will be in English and are for both international and Dutch students to attend. During the first year, it will still be possible for Dutch students to attend tutorials in Dutch if they please, but later on all tutorials will be in English only. This is done to improve the cohesion among students, and will lead to a more diverse community, which – as we have all learned during the Organisation & Management course – will increase creativity, motivation, and performance.

Implementation
The new programmes will be implemented stepwise starting the coming academic year. Year 1 will be implemented in 2017-2018 and replace the old programme’s year 1. Year 2 will follow in 2018-2019, and year 3 in 2019-2020. Students who have already started the Economics & Business bachelor’s can obviously finish the original bachelor’s, but they might face some difficulties if they do not pass their courses on the first attempt. Some courses from the current bachelor’s are to disappear and have to be replaced by a similar course. The details for students who in the future might face these kind of problems and transition arrangements are to be announced no later than March 1st, 2017.