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Copenhagen students the slowest to graduate

It takes an average of 6.6 years for University of Copenhagen students to complete their degrees. The longest in Denmark

6.6 years. This is is how long it takes the average University of Copenhagen student to complete their Master’s degrees. This is according to statistics from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education.

And although there are no university-level statistics to prove it, this may put the University of Copenhagen on the absolute slowest in Europe in terms of average time to graduation, and in terms of average age of finishing a degree.

Danish university students take longer to finish their studies than their European counterparts. And according to a recent report by Danish think tank Kraka, (in Danish), Danish students may be the latest finishers in terms of average age on graduation.

Some degrees are fast

The government is pushing its education reform, hoping to speed up university education and save two billion kroner a year.

Vice President for Education Hanne Harmsen at the University of Copenhagen focuses on the positive to our Danish section In recent years, the average completion time has improved by six months.

»We have a lot of degree programmes that our students complete fast – Medicine, Veternarian and Dentist degrees, for example,« says Vice President for Education Hanne Harmsen. »The common trait for these is that they are very structured and give their candidates a very clear profile.«

Ways to speed students up

The opposite holds for UCPH’s ‘slower’ degree programmes: »Students of the humanities have to structure their own education much more,« she says Hanne Harmsen.

»This shows that the University of Copenhagen carries its history with it: Its culture of immersion. It is, for example, only recently that you could be defined as ‘late’ in completing your studies,« she says, referring to a government scheme to give higher grade incentives for on-time graduates.

In the university’s latest so-called development contract with the Danish government it is a goal to bring down the time it takes for students to complete their degrees. The university has implemented what it calls thesis contracts with students and more stringent activity criteria.

Immersive UCPH culture

So does completing a degree faster equal higher quality learning?

No Hanne Harmsen says , »but a long time doesn’t mean low quality either. There are many good reasons for spending a long time on your degree. Perhaps to really go into detail, or to spend time on academically-relevant work of which there is a lot in Copenhagen.«

»But delays, too, can be caused by other things. Students feel lost because they have to structure their own courses. They get lonely because they’re not a part of a larger group or team. That’s the downside to the old university culture’s independent nature. It wasn’t a good culture in which to study.« says Hanne Harmsen.

Contributing more

For this reason, the university is adamant that no one – as has previously been the case – spends 10-15 years studying without completing their degree.

»A cultural change is taking place,« says Hanne Harmsen. »This year’s new students have had politicians tell them to ‘hurry up’ from the get go. The average age for UCPH’s Master’s students has dropped from 29 to 27 already.«

»The university is no longer an elite institution. Its output is massive,« says Hanne Harmsen. »We contribute more to society now than we did 50 years ago.«

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