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Angry students gatecrash council meeting

Student anger over a leaked memo showing plans to force them to finish their degrees faster. University risks losing DKK 345 million in government funding, it says. Students say they were not involved in the decision-making

The Education Minister’s controversial “study progress” plan to improve students’ completion times is soon to be implemented at the University of Copenhagen.

Now a leaked memo reveals that the stringent reforms were discussed and finalised by the University last Thursday without student involvement.

The proposed reforms limit study flexibility and are intended to usher students out of their studies. Master’s students will no longer be able to apply for leave from study, and the one-year leave allowance will be halved for Bachelor’s students.

Other changes include automatic registration for courses if a student delays in selecting subjects, and a requirement that students complete 45 ECTS points per year to keep their place at university.

Students excluded from the discussion

The memo reveals that the University’s Education Strategic Council, composed of vice deans and heads of studies, have held a 24 hour workshop to discuss the reform requirements. The workshop excluded student representatives.

“The process has been so fast, and the involvement of students has been poor.” says Laura Kofod, Vice President of the Student Council, noting that the leaked plans involved no student input.

In response, the Student Council gathered together 79 students to attend the protest and participate in a meeting last Thursday, where the University Education Strategic Council intended to finalise the plans.

Impacts

Caroline Klint, a member of the Student Council, points out that the cuts to leave means that students may be unable to take on internships.

“It’s a shame, because many businesses demand this kind of experience in order to get a job,” she says.

Aside from limiting their study flexibility, students can also expect greater administrative delays due to the anticipated increase in exemption cases lodged. The University already struggles to deal with such cases in a timely manner.

The University risks losing funding if it fails to accelerate the graduation of students by the expected 7.6 months. According to the memo, a failure to meet this target by Autumn 2014 could cost up to DKK 345 million in government funding.

University beholden to the Parliament

While some aspects of the Education Minister’s plan are still under the scrutiny of Parliament, the key points of the plan are considered a “done deal” by the University of Copenhagen’s management.

Prorector Lykke Friis acknowledged that the leaked memo was written under time pressure, but has defended the reform plans.

“We cannot sit down and decide that we will not follow the rules adopted in Parliament,” she says.

The memo is attached here (in Danish) as a pdf file.

universitypost@adm.ku.dk

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