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Taximeter increase — After multiple temporary extensions, universities can finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. On the Danish government’s 2024 budget is an increase in government subsidies that will be made permanent from 2025.
The Danish coalition government has just presented its proposal for the 2024 budget. And for those interested in universities’ finances one particular item stood out among the many priorities.
The 2024 proposal states that the so-called taximeter increase for the humanities and social sciences will be extended into 2024. And it will be made permanent in conjunction with a reform of master’s degrees in 2025.
The humanities and social sciences will therefore continue to receive around DKK 300 million extra a year in government subsidies, corresponding to DKK 5,808 per student full-year equivalents (a student who passes exams equivalent to one year, ed.). This is according to the Danish Ministry for Higher Education and Science.
»It is very positive that we now make this increase permanent. This was a request from the universities, which we have now addressed politically. It will benefit up to 80,000 students from study programmes like history, law, economics and psychology throughout the country, from Sønderborg to Copenhagen,« Minister for Higher Education and Science Christina Egelund (Moderate Party) says in a written comment to the University Post.
It’s nice that we no longer have to sit there with a lump in our throats worrying that we’ll be millions of kroner in the red.
Prorector for Education at University of Copenhagen, Kristian Cedervall Lauta
Different sums of money are allocated to study programmes, depending on the resources required. Chemistry, for example, gets more public funding than the Danish programme, and this is determined by the so-called taximeter system.
But a report back in 2009 by the consultancy firm McKinsey showed that courses in the humanities, the social sciences, theology, and law were underfunded relative to other university programmes. This could be seen in fewer teaching hours and more non-research-active lecturers than on the other university degree programmes.
A boost to the taximeter subsidies was therefore introduced in 2010. Since then it has provided annual subsidies to humanities, law, theology, and social sciences programmes so that they could get to the level of the other university programmes.
The University of Copenhagen’s prorector for education Kristian C. Lauta is pleased that the increase in subsidies is finally made permanent.
»It is gratifying that we will have the peace of mind about this rate increase for social and human science subjects. We still need them if we are to ensure the quality boost that it was originally intended to cover,« says Kristian C. Lauta.
The taximeter increase has in recent years been extended one to three years at a time, most recently in the 2023 budget. In January 2022 the former Social Democrat government, with the Socialist People’s Party, the Danish People’s Party, the Social Liberals and the Christian Democrats, agreed to permanently maintain the increase. But after the 2022 parliamentary elections, there was no longer a political majority behind it, and the boost to the taximeter was dropped.
The funds are important for being able to deliver high quality graduates within a wide range of fields.
Dean Kirsten Busch Nielsen, Faculty of Humanities
»It’s nice that we no longer have to sit there, with a lump in our throats, worrying that we’ll be millions of kroner in the red every time a new budget bill is presented,« says Kristian C. Lauta, who was not quite as worried this time round as previously.
»We knew that the increase would be made permanent in conjunction the master’s degree reform in 2025, so it was difficult for us to imagine that the government would not also extend it in 2024,« he says.
Kirsten Busch Nielsen is dean at the Faculty of Humanities, and she reckons that the permanent taximeter increase is important to ensure the quality of the humanities programmes.
»We are, of course, pleased that the grant is in place and has been made permanent. The funding is important in terms of being able to deliver high quality graduates within a wide range of fields. For the university, not getting the funding would be a big loss, and would negatively affect education programmes,« Kirsten Busch Nielsen writes in a written comment.
»On top of this, the stability that comes from the funding being made permanent is really essential for our work. So it’s good for everyone that it’s in place,« she adds.