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Education minister: Sorry for study reform problems

Esben Lunde Larsen apologises for the controversial Danish study progress 'fremdriftsreform'. Maintains that the responsibility for the quality of education lies with universities and students

Minister of Education and Research Esben Lunde Larsen apologised Tuesday to universities and students for the controversial Danish fremdriftsreform, or study progress reform, and the government’s decision to cut funding.

This was at a University of Copenhagen ‘Day of Education’ event. The reform has the purpose of making students finish their degrees faster and students have said that economic and political interests are being prioritized over their education. Universities have been met with large cuts in funding and are expressing their concern about how this will impact the quality of education.

“I am sorry that we [the politicians, ed.] have put you in this situation. I assure you, we are looking at creating more flexibility inside the framework of the fremdriftsreform, while still maintaining the goal of making sure students finish their studies faster,” he said.

Students, universities responsible for quality

Esben Lunde Larsen insisted that despite the cutbacks in funding and despite the challenges brought on by the reforms, the responsibility for the quality of education was solely the responsibility of the universities and the students themselves.

Minister for Education: “…quality of education does not improve whether you have class 8 times or 28 times”

The Minister for Education said he understood the desire students had for more classes at universites and that many students complained about the lack of feedback from their teachers/professors, but that students had to deal with the reality that they were facing.

“In my opinion the quality of education does not improve whether you have class 8 times or 28 times. If students feel they are not getting enough classes or feedback, then they have a responsibility to find ways to do something extra,” he said.

UCPH: Here is a rubber duck!

Esben Lunde Larsen was asked by the university when the proposed changes to the fremdriftsreform that he mentioned, would take place.

UCPH Prorector: “we want you to look at this little duck and ask, is that all they could afford?”

Photo: Alexander Paez García

He stated he would be initiating negotiations with parliament on 5 October. The negotiations will try to ascertain what changes can be made.

Before the minister left he was given a symbolic, and perhaps ironic, gift, by the University of Copenhagen’s Prorector Lykke Friis. A rubber duck with a graduation hat on. As the gift was handed over to Esben Lunde Larsen, she summed up feelings:

“You might be wondering why this gift? Well we know you are probably use to getting more elaborate gifts, however, we want you to look at this little duck and ask, is that all they could afford?”

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