The University of Copenhagen receives a backlash after they announced large-scale cuts in student places.
Brussels (Khrono): – It is quite a complicated task we are set on. There is no doubt that it is a difficult, hard-pressed process.
This is what Bente Stallknecht, Vice-Rector for Education at the University of Copenhagen, says to Danish Uniavisen after the management at the university in the Danish capital last week announced that 1590 study places will be removed by 2030. As the newspaper writes, this means that the faculties must sharpen their knives. They are given about a month to lay on the table a plan for how to cut it.
And some have to cut more than others.
The university is now accused of slaughtering the humanities, after it became clear that 40 percent will be taken from the humanities. The Faculty of Humanities alone must cut 640 places, corresponding to a quarter of the faculty’s annual admission.
Going out of the big cities
The backdrop is, as Khrono has written about before, a radical plan by the Social Democratic government to move study places out of the four largest cities, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg.
The plan was concretized in a political agreement between the governing party and a number of parties in the Folketing, under the title «More and better educational opportunities throughout Denmark».
25 new campuses will be spread across the Danish landscape. 7500 study places are to be created outside large cities. Admission to students in the big cities is reduced by ten percent.
According to the agreement, the universities can choose whether they want to move out of study places, or simply remove them. The plan presented by the University of Copenhagen last week was an answer to this.
Warned Ola Borten Moe
The recent cut plan also aroused in Norway. Leader Jonas Stein in the Academy for Young Researchers warned in Khrono Research and Higher Minister Ola Borten Moe against looking to Denmark, he feared cuts in the humanities if the Norwegian government is inspired by much of Danish.
Younger researchers warn Borten Moe against looking to Denmark
But the plan also attracts attention in Denmark.
Among other things, the university receives criticism from the Unity List, one of the parties behind agreements in the Folketing. The party’s education policy spokeswoman, Victoria Velasquez, believes the university’s plan is in breach of the agreement.
– I have a hard time seeing how it should be realized, since it is in conflict with agreements we have made. For example, we have agreed that there must continue to be diversity and spread in the educational offer, not just a rigid focus on employment, it is not connected with the proposal in practice slaughtering the humanities, she says to Uniavisen.
So on employment
The university responds by pointing to the political agreement, which states, among other things, that one must prioritize «educations with particularly high demand and employment», but also that there must be a «broad range of educations».
The said vice-rector Stallknecht maintains to the newspaper that it was clear that unemployment should be a signal.
– It is a main demand from our politicians that we look at it. We have continued this as a central principle in our distribution. But we have also put on, for example, demand among applicants, she tells the newspaper.
According to the university, this is the reason why so much has to be cut in the humanities.
Why not move more?
But the controversy is not just about emphasizing employment, critics ask why so many campuses are removing, why not more are moving out to other places.
Stallknecht does not rule out the possibility of setting up new campuses, but she does not expect this to happen to any great extent. She will not rule out that they may shut down educations and research environments.
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The same was true of Rector Henrik C. Wegener in the press release where they announced the plan.
– It is expensive and difficult to move university educations to the province and get researchers to move after. We probably do not avoid closing any educations. Unfortunately, this will also mean that some research environments that are associated with it will be discontinued, that is.
The leader of the Danish Master’s Association called it according to Science report a bloodbath, it is “doomed to go wrong,” she claimed.
– In many places this becomes a bloodbath, because you can not just move out a lot of education. Ergo, it’s a cut, she said. The criticism was rejected by the Social Democrats’ education policy spokesman, who pointed to the United States, “where the highly educated live in the big cities and ‘Central America’ is just something you fly over when going from one coast to the other.”
– I do not think it benefits anyone, she stated.