University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Obligatory philosophy course is no quick fix

Student Council column — One extra subject cannot make up for years of systematic underfunding

Seven days into this year’s shortest month I had one of those ‘first time’ experiences. The wind was ice cold when I crossed over the square to get into the courtyard of the centre of power, the parliament at Christiansborg castle. Don’t be fooled: the front door and grand staircase are only for experienced Christiansborg commuters – the rest of us are let in through the less flashy basement door, where a name tag waits for you at the end of the security check.


The Minister for Higher Education and Science, Søren Pind, has in interviews expressed in interest in reinstating an obligatory philosophy course known as filosofikum (Examen philosophicum). Until 1971 all university students were required to pass an exam in Filosofikum before they could begin taking courses in their chosen field.

It was not my first visit to Christiansborg, but it was the first time I had to attend a parliamentary consultation. On 7th February, Minister for Education Søren Pind had been called in for consultation on a new cap on the number of education programmes a student can take. Along with 70-100 other students, I turned up in my brand new #DROPLOFTET [drop the ceiling, ed.] T-shirt to mark my resistance.

When I went home, I felt myself just a little more educated. I felt a little more educated as a person and citizen, because I had taken part in democracy in a new way, and I felt a little more educated as an academic because I had fought for the right to become smarter. For that is what this cap on education is all about: you are suddenly being penalised for educating yourself.

One course can’t make up for years of systematic underfunding

It rings hollow to have to read Søren Pind’s vision of bringing back the civic and moral education back into our programmes of study by reintroducing an obligatory philosophy course. I do not think there are many in the university community who would disagree with the idea of ​​allowing us more space for contemplation. But this cries to high heaven in the context of a cap on education programmes, a study progress reform and funding cuts in the billions. This is not exactly conducive to students’ civic and moral education. Why not start there?

We all want to get smarter. We would like to take our chances in our professional life. We would like to read books that are not necessarily on the curriculum. But the framework that dictates our life of study, is frustrating our desire for learning and our curiosity. It is damned hard to have the energy to read some Heidegger in your free time when you are working 15 hours a week next to your studies to afford the rent, and you know that you risk being expelled from the university if you fail too many subjects.

Dear Søren Pind: There are no quick fixes to a civic and moral education. And one extra subject cannot make up for years of systematic underfunding.