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Danish universities envied by top Swedish rector

Danish higher education reforms, including a controversial 2003 university law, praised by Karolinska head

Denmark could be a role-model for Nordic research suggests the rector of the prestigious Karolinska Institute, Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson. Danish reforms involving merging higher education institutes, re-focusing the Ministry of Education and a longer term strategy are working, she says in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Several of the reforms cited in the interview have been heavily criticised in Denmark, and by other international observers.

An analysis by the Karolinska Institute showed that between 1995 and 2011, Denmark had more research articles ranked among the world’s top five pct than the UK and Sweden. And last year the research coordination organisation Nordforsk found that Danish researchers are cited 27 pct more frequently than the world average, compared with 13 pct for Sweden, 8 pct for Norway and 5 pct for Finland.

»Long-term investments in research are the key for successful research,« Wallberg-Henriksson argues. »Swedish research is suffering from splitting and short-term measures.«

Planning leads to success

Both Finland and Denmark have set-up long term research and innovation councils with Finland’s including the Prime-Minister. While Sweden and Norway use a mixture of short-term advisory boards and policy advice from research councils writes University World News.

In Denmark the government has appointed a permanent research-political council, independent from political parties, universities, or research councils.

»The council is mandated to work out strategies for research and innovation for considerably longer periods than four years« Wallberg-Henriksson continues, suggesting it is a key reason for Danish success.

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