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Education Minister defends cuts

DANISH NEWS - Esben Lunde Larsen defends them, but opposition calls cutbacks a ‘potential catastrophe’ for Denmark

Denmark will continue to lead the way in research despite government cuts that have forced the University of Copenhagen to shed more than 500 employees. This is according to Minister of Education and Research Esben Lunde Larsen yesterday in the face of widespread criticism, writes and

The Minister said he has no concerns about Denmark falling behind because the country will still be amongst the leading OECD nations in terms of state funding for research.

His comments come after a recent University Post interview, where he said that in spite of Danish cuts to research and education, universities could still ‘reach for the stars’.

Education cuts ‘short-sighted’ says opposition

The government’s ‘short-sighted’ polices are to blame for more than 500 jobs being slashed at the University of Copenhagen, the Social Liberals’ education and research spokeswoman Ida Auken claimed yesterday after Denmark’s biggest and most respected learning institution announced that 209 staffers will lose their jobs next week, in addition to 255 who have already opted to leave voluntarily.

The university has been forced to reduce costs by DKK 300m after the government slashed funding for education and research, but according to Ida Auken it makes ‘no sense’ for a country that prides itself on a highly-trained, competitive workforce to take such drastic action.

Economic growth a priority

“It’s more a question of priorities,” says Esben Lunde Larsen. “We need to exploit our resources even better and that’s why we have implemented a number of initiatives aimed at redistributing research throughout society to create greater economic growth”, writes and

Ida Auken disagrees with the decision. “This government would rather reduce the tax on luxury cars than invest in our young people, but it’s short-sighted and irresponsible,” she says. “When we (Social Liberals) were in power we gave education top priority because it isn’t always just about here and now – it’s about how we will live in the future.”

No turning back

Although the Social Liberals and Socialist People’s Party have summoned the Minister to a parliamentary hearing to explain the cutbacks he said there’s no turning back: “The government has repeatedly stated the need for a stable and cohesive economy and to achieve that educational institutions are required to cut expenditure by 2%, in line with local municipalities, the police, and other state agencies.”

Ida Auken vowed her party would fight to maintain high investment in education if returned to power after the next election and was backed by her Socialist People’s Party’s (SPP) counterpart, Jacob Mark, who called the cutbacks ‘extremely damaging’ and a ‘potential catastrophe’ for Denmark.

Read the article on the Danish news site here and here

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