Government green paper on a reform of the master’s degree programmes at the universities
The Danish government has presented a green paper on a reform of the master’s degree programmes at the universities. The proposal is part of a comprehensive reform plan for the whole education system.
The objective of the reform proposal is to future-proof the Danish education system.
Presently, the focus is on reforming the master’s degree programmes at the universities. Later on, the government will present green papers on a reform of, among others, the primary and lower secondary education, the vocational education and training programmes and the professionally oriented education programmes, including the welfare education programmes (that is the programmes training nurses, social workers, teachers and pedagogues).
New and more flexible master’s degree programmes
The government proposes new and more flexible paths through university with varying lengths, different degrees of specialisation and new opportunities for further education.
The government proposes the following four new master’s degree programmes:
- Master’s degree programmes with a duration of one year and three months with a clear labour market focus;
- Master’s degree programmes with a duration of two years with a higher degree of specialisation;
- Master’s degree programmes with a duration of two and a half years to three years with a high degree of specialisation;
- Flexible part-time master’s degree programmes with varying lengths where the students are employed alongside their studies.
The new master’s degree programme with a duration of one year and three months are to be offered within all branches of study. The majority of the new study places is to be offered within humanities and social science, whereas a lesser part is to be offered within natural science, health science, and technical studies.
Improved opportunities for further education
In addition, the government wishes that more people participate continuously in education throughout their work life.
To ensure this, the government proposes developing new continuing education and training courses at master’s level, which are organised so that the students’ life situation is taken into consideration. For example, the courses can be organised as evening classes or take place during weekends. The government also proposes improved opportunities for further education for graduates from the new master’s degree programme with a duration of one year and three months. The government proposes the following:
- Graduates can return to university and participate in subjects, modules, special master’s courses or a new master’s degree programme;
- Significantly lower tuition fees within the existing adult continuing education and training system;
- Graduates can complete a second master’s degree programme on full-time after two years at the labour market.
More international students
Furthermore, the government proposes to increase the number of international students in areas where the Danish business world calls for a highly educated labour force. The government proposes the following:
- The universities establish 1,100 English study places every year from 2024 to 2028 and 2,500 study places every year from 2029;
- The universities establish part-time master’s degree programmes in English within areas where it is possible to recruit highly qualified foreign labour.
The development of the master’s degree programmes will take place in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders, including the universities, the artistic higher education institutions, the students, and the business sector.
For more information (in Danish), please consult the green paper: Forberedt på fremtiden I.
Agreement on a reform of the teacher education programme for primary and lower secondary schools
On 13th September, the Danish government and a broad majority of the Danish Parliament agreed on a new and better teacher education programme for primary and lower secondary schools. In 2020, the government set up a committee whose recommendations on how to improve the teacher education programme form the basis of the agreement.
The agreement comprises three objectives for the new teacher education programme:
- Higher quality, enhanced professional standards, and increased study intensity;
- More teaching practice and an improved interaction between the teacher education programme and the everyday life as a teacher;
- Greater autonomy at local level to implement the education programme and less regulation from the national level.
To ensure higher quality, enhanced professional standards, and increased study intensity, the agreement includes among others the following initiatives:
- Students will receive up to four more hours of instruction a week;
- Students will receive more practice-based instruction, for example training in classroom management, inclusion, and school-home cooperation etc.;
- Students will receive more academic feedback and guidance, including an annual status meeting that aims to give the students individual feedback and guide them in relation to their professional development and motivation;
- Improved opportunities for the students to study part of their education abroad.
Initiatives to achieve more teaching practice and an improved interaction between the teacher education programme and the everyday life as a teacher include:
- The time allocated to teaching practice will be extended so the students participate in teaching practice at schools during all four years of the education programme;
- More focus on practice in the final examination that consists of a written examination and an oral examination;
- Special needs education and Danish as a second language will be reintroduced as main subjects in the teacher education programme.
Initiatives to ensure greater autonomy at local level to implement the education programme and less regulation from the national level include:
- The many and detailed objectives in the present course descriptions will be simplified and replaced with clear objectives so the lecturers at and the curricula for the individual institutions will have greater autonomy;
- The present modular construction will be replaced by a structure where the students follow the instruction in a main class to ensure professional progression, improved coherence, and stronger social integration.
The new teacher education programme for primary and lower secondary schools is planned to begin in August 2023.
For more information (in Danish), please consult the agreement: En ambitiøs læreruddannelse tæt på folkeskolen og til gavn for folkeskolen.
Government proposal for a new and improved admissions system in higher education
The Danish government has presented a proposal on how to improve the admissions system in higher education and invited the parties of the Parliament to negotiations. The government proposal encompasses four political objectives:
- A balanced focus on marks and a healthy learning culture;
- A better match between the applicant and the education programme;
- Increased social mobility;
- Several and more transparent ways into higher education.
The purpose of the proposal is to address challenges in the present system such as an unhealthy culture of perfection and increasing scramble for higher marks, a not well-considered choice of education for some applicants, too unequal ways into the higher education system, and a too complex admissions system.
The government proposes four initiatives:
- More suitable use of marks in quota one*;
- A more suitable admission through quota two;
- More homogenous and transparent screening;
- A more reflective choice of education programmes.
The government substantiates each initiative with specific suggestions on how to fulfil the objectives and improve the admissions system:
- Regarding a more suitable use of marks in quota one, the government proposes a maximum required average mark of ten and that selection on educational programmes with a required average mark of ten or higher is to be based on a subject-specific assessment;
- Proposals for a more suitable admission through quota two include a new common national admission test, five years of relevant work experience as qualifying for higher education, and a minimum of 25 per cent of the student places at all educational programmes offered via quota two;
- For the purpose of more homogenous and transparent screening, the government proposes simplified and homogenous admission requirements, and common criteria;
- Proposals for a more reflective choice of education programme include a strengthened educational guidance and reflection integrated in the application process in the form of questions to encourage reflection and inspire the young people to apply for other education programmes.
*For information on the Danish quota system, please visit: Regulations of Admission (Quota 1 and Quota 2)
For more information (in Danish): More ways, new opportunities: A new and improved admissions system in higher education.
Agreement on the implementation of more and better opportunities for education throughout Denmark
In June 2021, a broad majority of the Danish Parliament entered into an agreement on the framework for more and better opportunities for education throughout Denmark. In January 2022, the higher education institutions have presented their proposals for the relocation and downsizing of study places, after which the political parties have entered an additional agreement on the implementation in March 2022.
The purpose of the agreement is to ensure more and better opportunities for education throughout Denmark so a larger share of the enrolment on higher education in the future takes place outside the four biggest cities. The agreement aims at increasing the number of people getting an education by ensuring that all types of educations are available all over Denmark. The reasoning behind the agreement is an uneven distribution of educational institutions and a future lower recruitment basis because of falling youth cohorts that risk challenging the supply of education outside the four biggest cities further.
Furthermore, the agreement emphasises the importance of creating better conditions for the recruitment of welfare personnel throughout Denmark by outlining an ambition regarding a 60/40 distribution of student places on the four biggest welfare educations (teacher, nurse, pedagogue and social worker). The ambition entails that in time 60 per cent of the study places on these welfare educations are to be located outside the four biggest cities.
Since January 2022, the political parties have negotiated an additional agreement based on the higher educational institutions’ suggestions on how to relocate and/or reduce enrolment. When preparing their input, the institutions had to allow for, among other things, public employers and business communities’ needs as well as continuing supply of educations with particularly high demand and employment. The additional agreement and the five sector plans for the higher educational institutions include the following new main elements:
- Ambitions about more than 100 new education initiatives outside the four biggest cities;
- 41 new educational initiatives receive extraordinary public grants for their establishment;
- Overall, the political parties have prioritised 805 million DKK in funding of start-up and development expenses from 2021-2028;
- In all, 413 million DKK in grants of which the majority is used in order for both existing and new supplies of education to receive increased decentralised basic subsidy and a 7-percentage point increase in the taximeter scheme.
In total, the additional agreement and the sector plans entail that:
- The study places in the four biggest cities are adjusted with 6.4 per cent towards 2030 corresponding to about 4,350 study places;
- Of the 4,350 study places, approximately 2,400 are relocated while 1,950 are downsized;
- If all the educational institutions’ registered plans are implemented by 2030, further 2,000 new study places will be established outside the four biggest cities.
- Because of the 60/40 ambition, 1,800 study places for the four biggest welfare educations are established outside the big cities of which 800 are relocated and 1000 are newly created.
For further information (in Danish), please visit: The Ministry of Higher Education and Science
Improved conditions for students with disabilities in higher education
As a part of the follow-up on a political agreement on better conditions for pupils and students with physical and psychological disabilities, a work group has presented a report on the conditions for students with disabilities in higher education.
The purpose of the report is to clarify important conditions and frameworks with an impact on the equality between students with disabilities and their fellow students. This includes conditions that affect students with disabilities’ well-being and learning outcome. Furthermore, the report examines opportunities for support and compensation in order for students with disabilities to study on the same terms as students without disabilities.
Conditions for students with disabilities
Overall, the report compares the situation of students with disabilities and students without disabilities. In addition, the report focuses on two subgroups of disabilities: students with psychological disabilities and students with reading and writing difficulties. According to the work group, the share of students with disabilities has over a ten-year period increased from 3 to 11 percent in 2020. Furthermore, the work group observes that students with disabilities encounter more difficulties during their studies compared to students without disabilities on a number of parameters. Students with disabilities experience:
- Higher unemployment, higher dropout rates and longer average time of completion;
- Lower well-being and poorer affiliation;
- Lack of availability in their learning environment;
- More insecurity, difficulties and worries at the commencement of their studies;
- An additional work load as a result of administrative barriers;
- Lack of flexibility regarding the administrative and legal framework;
- Insecurity and worries in relation to their economy.
In particular, the group of students with psychological disabilities differ as they experience higher unemployment and dropout rates, longer time of completion and lower well-being.
The work group’s initiatives
In light of these findings, the work group presents four central initiatives to improve the conditions for students with disabilities in higher education:
- Improved involvement of the group before and during the commencement of their education programme;
- Improved availability in the learning environment of teaching aids and audio visual equipment and accessible teaching resources in time;
- Regularly support during their education;
- Increased flexibility of the organization of a full-time education.
The work group substantiates each initiative with specific suggestions on how to improve the conditions for students with disabilities in higher education:
- About the commencement of study, the work group suggests a universal and tolerant design, incorporated information on the available opportunities for students with disabilities in connection with admission, a more flexible application process and an invitation for coming students to contact the higher education institution in relation to the planning of their education;
- Suggestions for improved availability includes support for the use of teaching aids and audio visual equipment, accessible teaching resources in time and common guidelines on recording of lessons and flexibility in terms of group work;
- For the purpose of more regularly support courses the work group suggests visualising the process clearly and reducing the wait for special educational assistance (support scheme);
- Suggestions for increasing the flexibility includes the opportunity to take courses in another way (e.g. evening classes and online classes) and closer cooperation with training places.
For more information (in Danish): Improved conditions for students with disabilities
A new political agreement limits student grant expenses for foreign students from the EU
The government and a large majority of the political parties in the Danish parliament have agreed to reduce the number of courses offered in English at higher education institutions.
The agreement has been put in place because of the continually increasing number of students from EU and EEA countries who receive Danish SU (State Educational Grant). This means that expenses for this group of students have risen sharply in recent years. Despite several political attempts to bring expenditure under control, expenditure is expected to rise to approximately DKK 570 million in 2025, which is far above the level of DKK 449 million, which the majority of the political parties in the Danish parliament agreed upon in 2013*.
The aim of the agreement is to reduce the number of students from EU and EEA countries receiving SU. When reducing the number of courses offered in English, the emphasis has been on studies in which only very few of the English-speaking students subsequently find employment in Denmark.
The reduction targets business academy and vocational bachelor programmes offered in English. Seven out of ten (72%) of the students are English-speaking, but only one in five (21%) find work in Denmark after completing their education.
However, the parties want to respect those business academy and vocational bachelor programmes that succeed in educating English-speaking students for employment in Denmark, as well as programmes that, for example, are of special relevance to the regional labour market. The parties have therefore agreed to exempt about 650 student places from the reduction of courses offered in English.
The agreement emphasises that as few study places as possible will be closed. However, to help the education institutions adapt and reorganise to focus on the courses offered in Danish, the parties have earmarked DKK 112 million from 2023 to 2025, to compensate the institutions most affected.
The parties agree that offering more opportunities for employment for English-speaking students is itself a major task. Therefore, each year DKK 50 million will be set aside to remunerate institutions that succeed in getting more graduates into employment.
Finally, the parties agree that it must still be possible for students at business academies and university colleges to participate in student exchange as part of their studies. They have therefore agreed to improve opportunities for subjects in English within Danish-language business academy courses and vocational courses at university colleges, which requires legislation, which will be implemented during the next year.
The parties to the agreement expect these measures to ensure that SU expenses for migrant job seekers from EU/EEA countries are kept at the level set in the SU agreement. However, the parties also agree that developments within the remaining courses offered in English must be closely monitored, and that, if necessary, further measures must be taken if SU expenditure increases significantly.
Included in the agreement is the decision to contribute to the financing of the Political Agreement on the framework for more and better opportunities for education throughout Denmark (the below news item).
For further information, please visit the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s website (link).
*According to EU legislation, students from EU/EEA countries have the right to SU, when alongside their studies they have worked for at least 10-12 hours a week for a continuous period of 10 weeks. This gives students the status of migrant job seekers, which makes them entitled to social benefits - including SU. In 2013, the parties involved in SU negotiations entered into a political agreement that the SU costs for EU/EEA citizens with the status of migrant job seekers must not exceed DKK 449 million per year.
Political Agreement on the framework for more and better opportunities for education throughout Denmark
The government and almost all the political parties in the Danish parliament have decided on an agreement to improve opportunities for higher education in all areas of Denmark. The political vision is to ensure access to higher education in all areas of Denmark and to curb the demographic development where people gradually are moving from rural to urban areas. Among others, the parties have agreed to:
- Increase enrolment outside the bigger cities and reduce enrolment in the cities
- Increase funding for higher education placed outside major cities relative to higher education in larger urban areas
The agreement changes some of the fundamental structures of the Danish education system. With this change, a new regional funding system is implemented from 2023. Outside the bigger cities, the funding of higher education institutions will increase 5-7 percent from 2023-2027 and onwards.
Furthermore, the basic grant for decentralised educational supplies and higher education local units, the co-called ‘educational stations’, is doubled. It is estimated that more than 70 existing educational supplies across the country will benefit economically from the agreement.
The quality assurance of higher education institutions is unchanged with the agreement.
Increasing enrolment outside the bigger cities and reducing enrolment in the cities
The government and the political parties agree that it is of utmost importance to improve the higher education institutions’ basis for enrolment to be able to meet the ambition that more young people complete a higher education outside the bigger cities. In this respect, the agreement states an objective to reduce enrolment in the cities by 5-10 percent by 2030.
In autumn 2021, the education institutions will present their proposals on how they plan to relocate and/or reduce enrolment in the four biggest cities by 5-10 percent.
On this basis, a ‘2030 sector plan’ for each education sector is prepared. The structural changes following the sector plans will be implemented gradually, thus no current students will be affected by the agreement.
1,000 new and 1,000 relocated student places within the welfare area
It is a priority to improve the basis for recruiting qualified personnel within the welfare area in all areas of Denmark – including outside the cities. Thus, the political parties have agreed:
- That 60 percent of the study places within welfare education programmes must be placed outside the bigger cities
- To establish 1,000 new study places within the welfare area outside the bigger cities
- To relocate 1,000 study places within the welfare area outside the bigger cities
The ambition is that 60 percent of all study places within the four big welfare education programmes (teacher, nurse, pedagogue, social worker) in the longer term should be placed outside the bigger cities. Therefore, by 2030, 1,000 new study places will be established and an additional 1,000 study places will be relocated outside the bigger cities.
Further information can be found on the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s website (only available in Danish).
Financial support to students in higher education in the light of COVID-19
The Danish parliament has decided on a number of measures in the light of the COVID-19 situation to support students in higher education. The parliament has decided:
- To allocate 13.45 million EUR (100 million DKK) for compensating initiatives for final year students enrolled in programmes with a significant amount of practise teaching or practical training.
- Students can apply for extra state education loans due to the COVID-19 situation until May 2021.
Due to the continuing lockdown of the higher education institutions, the Danish parliament has decided to allocate 100 million DKK. These funds cover extra activities such as teaching, guidance and exams, which can also take place during weekends and holidays. The funds are allocated to the university colleges, business academies, and the maritime and artistic education institutions as well as universities offering programmes including a considerable practical training element. The initiative is expected to benefit around 41,000 students.
Furthermore, to accommodate the students’ economic situation, the parliament has decided to extend the option for students to apply for extra state education loans (SU-lån). The measure has been extended and now includes April 2021.
In addition to this, the parliament has extended the possibility for students participating in critical societal functions to increase their income without being deducted in their state education grant (SU). This can among others, include nursing, medical, paramedical, social and health care training students.