AU Viborg: Continued focus on getting new degree programmes ready and creating an attractive study environment

It’s a busy time at AU Viborg, with three new degree programmes being launched and a brand-new study environment being set up before the first students can start on campus. The degree programme in veterinary science has been postponed by a year, and AU Viborg will not be welcoming its first students until 2024.

We have asked two heads of department who are deeply involved in establishing AU Viborg how the postponement has affected their work.

Charlotte Lauridsen:  "We won’t slow down. On the contrary.”

Charlotte Lauridsen, head of department at ANIVET, which recently changed its name from the Department of Animal Science to the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, is working hard to get everything ready:

"We won’t slow down. On the contrary. There’s still a great deal of momentum, and we’re as focused as ever on getting ready to welcome our new students," she says, and she continues:

"There were many good reasons for postponing the launch of the veterinary science programme. For one thing, the legislation wasn’t in place. But on the other hand, the delay means that all students will start at the same time, and this means that we can create a study environment that includes all three degree programmes from the start," she says. 

Even though there is now more than a year to get things ready, lots of work still needs to be done to make sure everything falls into place on time. For example, new experimental facilities and labs have to be set up, and classrooms, a Friday bar, stables and a riding ménage need to be established.

Apart from the buildings, the content of the degree programmes also has to be defined:

"There’s so much to do when you launch a veterinary medicine programme. We need to recruit new teaching staff. We need to decide on the syllabus. All our veterinarians at the department are working hard to get it all done," she says. 

Jørgen E. Olesen: "The plan is still on track."

Jørgen E. Olesen, head of department at the Department of Agroecology, is rethinking the degree programme in agrobiology, which is moving from Aarhus to AU Viborg, as well as the degree programme in animal science, which is moving from the University of Copenhagen to AU Viborg, and will be part of ANIVET. Even though the degree programmes in agrobiology and animal science already exist, at lot still needs to be done to make them even more attractive and relevant for students.

"The plan is still on track. We’re currently discussing the specific content of the degree programmes. What should they include? How can we utilise our specialist facilities here at Foulum? Our researchers, the unique outdoor areas and the labs? How can we use all this to create an exciting learning environment? In other words, we’re rethinking our degree programmes to develop the best agricultural programmes in the world," he says.  

When the descriptions of the programmes are in place, prequalification will be applied for. For veterinary medicine, the plan is to apply by the deadline on 15 September 2022, and for the other two programmes, the plan is to apply by the deadline on 1 February 2023.

AU Viborg: A new narrative for the agricultural sector is part of the solution

The fact that it can be difficult to entice students away from the big cities is one of the things that needs to be taken into account in the preparations, explains Jørgen E. Olesen. Therefore, the faculty is conducting a market survey to find out what motivates potential students when they choose their education, and what it will take to open their eyes to the opportunities at AU Viborg.

"We know that there will be a huge demand for young people with the competences that these programmes offer. We want to make sure that our students can respond to the green transition. We believe we can do this better here than in many other parts of the world," says Jørgen E. Olesen, and he continues:

"We need to change the basic narrative about the degree programmes and what it means to work in the agricultural sector. We need a new narrative with agriculture considered as part of the solution to the green transition, instead of the problem. This message has to be communicated widely. This is the major task ahead of us right now."

An attractive place to stay, also after class

In addition to the close collaboration at the faculty between the departments involved, AU is also working closely with Viborg Municipality on finding solutions for student accommodation and offering exciting activities for students when they are not on campus.

"Viborg Municipality is also very enthusiastic about the project and is looking forward to having more students in Viborg. So the municipality wants to help make AU Viborg as attractive for students as possible," says Charlotte Laursen. She continues:

"There's a super positive energy, across the board. And I'm very proud and happy to have such committed employees who are working extremely hard to get ready to welcome the new students."