At the first meeting of the Degree Programme Committee for Aalto Bachelor’s Programme in Science and Technology (yes, that’s a monster of a name) on 28 January 2020 we discussed topics such as thesis and seminar practices, new curricula for 2020–2022 and admission criteria for 2021. I was at the meeting on behalf of Quantum Technology students.
The programme is still new and needs a coherent bachelor’s seminar, and at the meeting there was an English teacher from the Language Center who has been put in charge of it. He presented his ideas to us and we discussed them in length. The basic idea is that the seminar would be more like a regular course, with weekly gatherings to learn academic writing and argumentation etc. while also reading each other’s theses. This way, writing your thesis would be a more supported process than before. The course would run twice a year, once in spring and once in fall.
While everyone acknowledged the multitude of good ideas in the proposal, it also raised concerns, for example: Would there be too much workload for students if they had to attend these sessions every week? How are the 270 hours of 10 academic credits divided in this plan? What if you do your thesis completely or partially during the summer? Would all the sessions be mandatory even if you’ve almost completed your thesis? These were questions that will still be worked on.
The curriculum changes for 2020–2022 weren’t very interesting since the programmes are new and there isn’t much feedback to base any changes on. There arose discussion about master’s level courses and that one should contact the teachers of those courses before adding them to a bachelor level major or minor.
The admission criteria for an international programme like this proved to be an interesting topic. Applicants are required to take the SAT test, and maybe also a subject test in math. Two international students at the meeting shared their points of view and stated that the SAT test doesn’t cover enough math to be sufficient on its own, thus a subject test in math would be needed. An English test like TOEFL was also suggested but then there would be perhaps too many tests.
Finally, all the majors within international bachelor’s programme are new and thus growing fast. For example, there was a 70% increase in the number of applicants for Quantum Technology, from 183 to 311. This also creates scheduling problems for entrance exams and courses.