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First to complete double degree program

Eike Hoppmann is the first candidate to obtain a double degree from UiA and University of Konstanz. The focus on European politics was one of the main reasons for him to choose UiA and Kristiansand.

Eike Hoppmann
Eike Hoppmann

In 2020, Eike finished his master’s degree in Political Science, as part of the exchange program between UiA and University of Konstanz. Having spent one year at both institutions, he values the way the program is organized.

– I always wanted to go abroad for a longer period during my master’s studies. When staying for a whole year, you can really get deeper into a country and get to know people. To be able to do that, and at the same time get a degree from another country, was appealing to me, says Eike.

Fascinated by Norway

Eike was studying Political Economy in Konstanz when he heard about the opportunity to go to Kristiansand for one year, as part of his master’s. Stefan Gänzle, Head of Department of Political Science at UiA, presented the double degree program at the University of Konstanz, where Eike was studying. This sounded as a perfect opportunity to him: to be able to specialize in EU politics and spend a year in Norway, where he had spent a couple of holidays earlier.
– I always wanted to go to Norway. It’s hard to describe why, but I just found it a great country. I like the society and the egalitarian culture, and the attitude that you shouldn’t believe that you’re better than anyone else. It’s the whole combination of the culture, the education system, the nature, the work-life-balance and what you can do in your spare time. It’s just a good place to live and study, says Eike.

Strength in EU research

The double degree exchange between UiA and Konstanz was initiated in 2015 to increase cooperation between the two universities. The Department of Political Science at UiA already cooperated with colleagues from Konstanz with regards to the European Integration Summer School and in EU research as such, and both parties had a mutual benefit of increasing student exchange between them. The program allows for students to spend one year at each institution and to graduate with a degree from both. The master thesis is co-supervised by scholars from both institutions. The close cooperation makes it easy to find subjects that are recognized at both institutions.

Besides the point of getting a double master’s degree, it was the Department’s strong research focus on EU that convinced Eike to go to UiA and Kristiansand. This was the topic he was interested in, and he ended up writing a Master thesis titled “Brexit and preferences for European integration”, where he analyzed whether disintegration of one country affects the preferences of individuals in other countries regarding European integration.

Differences and similarities

Whether you’re studying in Germany and Norway, there are differences, from Eike’s experience. While the way of teaching in Germany is quite teacher-oriented, he finds the lectures at UiA more group and student oriented, with more presentations and dialogue. He also appreciated the fact that lectures are 45 minutes instead of 90, as he is used to from Germany.

However, there are many good reasons for Norwegians to go to Konstanz.

– The Political Science environment has been rated among the top ones in Germany. They are very much research-oriented. Studying there will help improving your skills in research design and methods, says Eike. The two cities of Kristiansand and Konstanz are quite similar; both in size and in terms of the fact that they are close to the water. The Alpes are just around the corner, so, if you like hiking and skiing in the mountains there are a lot of opportunities.

Konstanz

Students spend one year in Konstanz, Germany, and one year in Kristiansand during the double degree program.

Methodology improves journalism

Coming from a Bachelor’s in Economics, it was a bit challenging to get used to the methodology and theories of Political Science. The combination between the two is nonetheless a very good one for Eike, who now works as a journalist – as was his plan all along. It’s exactly the political science methodology that he now feels is making him a better journalist.

– Right now, I work for a newspaper in Zurich, mainly with data journalism. Most of the work is now about handling Covid-19 data, trying to find some patterns, and then present it in a way that is interesting and makes people understand what is going on.

I use a lot of the methodology from both economics and political science. My job is much about handling and analysing quantitative data and tell what you can see in these data and what you cannot. Journalists tend to simplify things and make conclusions too easily. With my political science backdrop, I know how hard it is to make causal claims and say that this happens because of that. So, I feel I’m in a better position to understand and presenting the data more precisely, Eike concludes.

Konstanz and the double degree

 Why should Norwegian students apply for going to Konstanz?

Stefan Gänzle, Head of Department of Political Science, UiA, presents several reasons:

  • In the field of public administration Konstanz is one of the best universities in Europe as various university ratings show.
  • Our department has a good and established collaboration with the university, and it is easy to get the subjects recognized from there – we recommend spending the third semester (and possibly the fourth semester – in case you want to go for a double degree).
  • As it is one of the largest environments in public administration, you get to choose from a wide range of subjects to choose from all being taught in English.
  • The University of Konstanz is very international – and you can easily immerse yourself.
  • With a double degree, you get a diploma and competence both from Norway and from Germany, which can be an advantage if you are going to work internationally.
  • The degree is documenting that you can operate within two different academic fields.
  • Language and cultural competence. When you have a whole year at your disposal, you learn more than during a regular exchange stay of 5-6 months – attend a language class if possible  during your stay.