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Government regulators criticised in final Quality Committee report

The first reports from the Quality Committee criticised Danish universities’ priorities. Now, the the final report also includes criticism of the Danish government

Universities do not care about the teaching abilities of their employees and the government is regulating the wrong things. This is the conclusion of the so-called ‘Quality Committee’ in their report published Thursday.

“The most important problem is that the central regulation of education is completely on the wrong track,” says Jørgen Søndergaard, head of the committee in the press release.

The ‘Expert Committee on Quality in Higher Education in Denmark’ was established by the Danish government in October 2013, and tasked with developing recommendations on how to increase higher education quality and employability of university graduates.

Central regulation of admittance

Instead of regulating exams and other details of teaching, the government should focus on control access to higher education and reform the funding system, the committee argues.

Some recommendations in the final report focus, as expected, on measures to guarantee a high quality of education. For example, universities are asked to put emphasis on teaching competences when hiring new academic employees.

Proposals include a change to the funding of the university sector: Funding given per active student should be reduced, and the money redirected to reward excellent teaching initiatives. Also, an increase the baseline funding should provide an incentive to universities to admit fewer students.

More drastic than financial stimuli are proposals to regulate admisssion rates directly. Subjects with an ‘overproduction’ of graduates should receive a central cap, and less students should be admitted to master’s programs, entering the labor market with the bachelor’s degree instead.

Previous reports sparked protests

The just-released document concludes the committees work and recapitulates some of the proposals published in March and November 2014. The first two reports focused on the legal framework and higher education institutions.

The committee’s work has been controversial among students, and one of the committee’s now-repeated, first recommendations – limiting access to programs at master level – was met with protests throughout the country.

“We don’t want to enter into competition with one another to obtain a place to study,” said Jakob Ruggaard, leader of the Danish student association at a demonstration in May, “we should become smarter together”.

Link to the report (in Danish).

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