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Committee: Programmes with no job prospects should accept fewer students

The Bachelor's degree should be four years in Danish universities. And some study programmes should be barred from admitting too many students. Recommendations from the so-called Quality Committee. Will also remove automatic access to Master's from Bachelor's

Study programmes that have a high risk of leading to unemployment should have a strict cap on admissions numbers. And the bachelor’s degree should be extended to four years. Recommendations from a government-appointed Quality Committee report that was released Thursday.

Each year the Danish government uses DKK 14 billion on student number-earmarked ‘taxameter’ subsidies to universities. The quality committee was appointed by government to recommend how to ensure quality in study programmes, and to ensure that study programmes are kept relevant to the job market. In Denmark, the proportion of highly educated people in the private sector is lower than in other OECD countries.

“Today there is a kind of one size fits all in the [Danish, ed. ] universities. Nearly nine out of ten take their Master’s degree before they get a real job. We have to change this. When so many more need to find work in the private sector, more will have to find jobs in small and medium-sized companies, in sectors that have no tradition for hiring academics, ” chairman of the committee Jørgen Søndergaaard says.

Not geared to private sector

The committee wants to get to grips with what it calls overproduction.

“The interest in higher education has exploded. Since 2007, the number of people starting an education has grown by 50 per cent. This is good. But we need to stop and review the consequences. And you don’t have to look deeply into the figures and trends to see that we are confronting a massive change in the role of the higher education sector in Denmark.”

“An example: Today only every second person with a higher education get a job in the private sector. In the future, it will be four out of five newly educated. The education system is not geared to this situation,” says Jørgen Søndergaard.

Some study programmes just keep on taking on students

The Bachelor’s degree which now lasts three years, should be four years. The extra year should be used for courses in the practical application of the subject in the private sector. There should no longer be an automatic transition from a Bachelor’s degree to a Master’s degree, and a selection process to be admitted into the Master’s.

And some study programmes will see their numbers being capped. No particular programmes are mentioned but the report’s statistical material references, for example, what it calls artistic and aesthetic programmes, among others, as trending towards higher numbers of graduates, and thereby an implied increasing unemployment.

“This is not true for all programmes, but we can see that some programmes keep on taking on students, even though the unemployment rate for their graduates is considerably higher than in other programmes and their expected salary considerably lower.

Second report will be forthcoming

And he continues, “…the state should be able to set a ceiling on the numbers of new students coming in to programmes with low salary and employment prospects,” says Jørgen Søndergaard.

The Quality Committee will be presenting a second report that will offer recommendations for the actual content of programmes.

See the full report attached to this article in Pdf below.

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