Denmark targets HE expansion

Nieuws | de redactie
11 oktober 2011 | A progressive government was formed after the Danish parliamentary elections, beating a right-wing coalition. New prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt emphasizes higher education and internationalization in the new coalition agreement.

For the first time in 10 years Denmark has a left-winggovernment. After concluding coalition negotiations, HelleThorning-Schmidt (Denmark’s first female Prime Minister) announcedsignificant reforms both in the higher education sector andbeyond.

In the agreement of the Social Democratic Party, theSocial Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party the newgovernment promises greater state support for universities and amore open approach towards foreign students. Recognizing that”knowledge and education are the foundation for future prosperity”,Thorning-Schmidt sets out a number of ambitious policy goals.

Most striking stands out her ambition to achieve a 60%participation rate in higher education by 2020. This is markedlyabove the 40% goal put forward on a European level by the EU2020plan, and even higher than the 50% target of the former right-winggovernment.

Main reform targets

  • 60% of any age cohort shouldcomplete tertiary education, 25% shouldreceive postgraduate education until2020. To attain this goal, 10,000 additional student places will becreated.
  • Teaching quality should be improvedat business academies, university colleges and universities.
  • Regulation and funding reforms will take place to give moreautonomy to universities. This willresult in better education, top notch research and betterintegration of universities into society.
  • Accreditation systems will bere-evaluated to ensure the best possible range of qualificationsacross the sectors.
  • Internationalization will be fosteredin all educational institutions.
  • Moving from vocational education to higher education will befacilitated to create greater flexibility of theeducational system.

Criticism was raised regarding the financing of these policygoals. The budgetary details have to be elaborated still. ThereforeDanish HE cannot count yet on clear, longer term investment plansof the new government.  According to current estimates, theDanish higher education sector lacks 1 billion DKK (€134m) infinancial resources.

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