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Comment: Study duration and quality calls for a joint effort

Education of the highest quality is the number one priority. The study progress reform will be difficult to implement. But that makes it even more important for us to join hands in finding a solution, say Rector and Prorectors in this featured comment

Wednesday 27 November, banners and chants filled the central square in Frue Plads in protest against the Danish parliament’s Study Progress Reform (Fremdriftsreformen). Let it be clear that we are impressed by the sense of community and dedication that were mobilized by students to ensure a valuable education. We encourage this community to contribute in a constructive manner with solutions to our common challenges.

University of Copenhagen (UCPH) students, on average, have a fairly long duration of study, and the Danish parliament has passed a progress reform, stating that we must reduce the average completion time by 7.6 months by 2020. If we fail to do this, we stand to lose up to DKK 345 million annually in funding. This will affect the quality of the education programmes. Let us emphasize – education of the highest quality is the number one priority to us as Rector and Prorectors, and it is the main point of the UCPH strategy.

The management team has discussed the progress reform with the students, and listened to their concerns. We agree that the reform will be difficult to implement. That makes it even more important for us to join hands in finding a solution. We cannot stop at the recognition of dissatisfaction, we have to discuss how to best solve this issue. We are ready to discuss a gradual introduction of the reform.

Open to all ideas

We have already decided that, for the time being, we do not wish to tighten the academic progress requirements (45 ECTS) and the rules of educational leave. We would like to hear all the great ideas on how the study completion time can be reduced. In response to the demonstration on Frue Plads, the management team has set up six boxes where students can leave their input, and we are excited to have received more than 100 suggestions.

To avoid any misunderstanding, the work-in-progress document that made its way into Danish-language site Uniavisen and the University Post was never thought of as the definitive answer by the University to the study progress reform. It is in light of the reform that we have long ago launched initiatives to improve the quality of education: a new study environment effort, more summer school programs, and development of the educational and didactic progress.

It is important that we are all aware that there are many reasons why students get delayed. This is why we, among other things are introducing a minimum of 12 hours of teaching a week on all BA degree programs. We also know that counselling is extremely helpful in achieving completion of studies. Therefore, we aim to improve the student and career counselling.

Nothing is decided in advance

In the months to come, the study progress reform will be on the agenda at meetings between UCPH management and the Student Council, in Study Boards, the Academic Councils, the Academic Board on Education Strategy, and the UCPH Senate, where employees, students, and management meet across the University.

The law was passed in June, and in order to move on and truly know what we are dealing with, we need to see the ministerial directives from the Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Higher Education. UCPH has asked the ministry to postpone the reform, or make transitional arrangements for students already enrolled. We are curious to see if the Minister will be sympathetic to our concerns. However, we expect the overall finances in the reform to remain the same.

If we do nothing, the University will lose millions in funding. We MUST find a solution. We are ready for an open-minded discussion. We are open to all good solutions – and nothing is decided in advance. But of course, we have to abide by the law and explicitly follow the ministerial directives. Finding a solution that works at UCPH will mean a joint effort.

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