Faster study completion back on the political agenda

Skrevet af Bjørn Hyldkrog - Foto: Jørn Albertus - 24. januar 2012 - 12:510 kommentarer
The Danish Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, Morten Østergaard, unveiled his focus points for the universities three year developement contracts.

The Danish Minister of Higher Education, Morten Østergaard wants the Danish universities to focus on getting their students to complete their degrees faster. This is one of the ministry’s four mandatory focus areas for the universities’ upcoming development contracts.

Faster study completion to be part of university developement contracts
The Danish Minister of Higher Education, Morten Østergaard (the Danish Social Liberal Party), has unveiled five ministerial goals to be included in the Danish universities upcoming three year development contracts. One of them is that he wants the universities to present concrete and ambitious goals for student completion.

The political desire to have students complete their degrees faster is not a new concept, and now society’s fiscal gain from just year group of students getting their degree a year faster has been calculated: 8.5 billion DKK, at least according to The Economic Council of the Labour Movement, the preferred economic policy institute of the current government.

The Minister of Higher Education swings the carrot
Morten Østergaard’s sharpening of the demands for the universities to bring down the overall study time is accompanied by increased use of educational offers through the summer holiday period and the instigation of study programs starting in both summer and winter. Instead of pressuring the students into performing by reducing their SU (the Danish Students’ Grant, a monthly “allowance” received for studying) as the previous government was planning, the minister is swinging the carrot rather than the whip and proposing that universities by delivering can earn themselves part of the gains made by society, this in the form of increased grants.

Morten Øsgergaard added that the proposition will not be micromanaged by the ministry, but that the universities themselves should come up with the means of achieving the goal themselves. He also stressed that the efforts will not affect the focus on the educational content and quality, which is another of the ministry’s focus areas for the Development Contracts.

Amount of teaching and quality of education more serious challenges
In the media coverage of the proposal last week, voices of dissent were raised to the proposal. The Chairman of the Danish Rectors’ Conference, University of Southern Denmark-president Jens Oddershede pointed out that there’s no ‘quick fix’ to achieve the goal, while the Chairman of the Danish Student’s Convention, Magnus Pedersen, insisted that the really big problem is actually the number of students dropping out.

The Chairman of DJØF (the Danish union for lawyers, law students and degree holders and students in Business Economics or Social Sciences), Theis Simonsen pointed out that the timing of the proposition wasn’t the best, seen in the light of the current state of the economy and the job market. He also suggests that it would probably be wiser to take a closer look at just how much actual teaching the students receive in their educations.

The four mandatory focus areas for the Danish Universities
- Higher quality educations
- Better coherence in the educational system
- Students getting their degree faster
- Higher innovative capabilities