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Minister faced down humanities' protesters

As students continue their action at the southern campus humanities buildings, the Minister of Science made a sudden appearance and criticised universities' administration

A rolling blackout of protests continues at the Faculty of Humanities as initial barricades at the English, German and Romance languages department were followed up with the shutdown of further departments.

The Danish department and the Department of Art and Cultural Studies were blockaded Tuesday and Wednesday as students continue their protest against shorter semesters and fewer face-to-face teaching hours.

»We coined a word for the occasion,« says literature student and blockade activist Linea Maja Ernst to our Danish section Universitetsavisen. »We call it a blockade relay.«

Minister’s car turned up

Suddenly Minister of Science Charlotte Sahl-Madsen made a surprise appearance at the picketed and barricaded Department of Art and Cultural Studies Wednesday to discuss the issues of cutbacks with nearly 50 sceptical student protesters.

Students should not demand that politicians get involved in this case, as it is actually the university management’s responsibility, the Minister warned. There has, as a matter of fact, been allocated more government funding to humanities subjects in recent years, she said, before continuing with a thinly veiled criticism of Danish universities’ management:

»The funding has been increased, but where has all the money gone? I have to get to the bottom of this,« the Minister said. »The money is not supposed to go to administration. It is supposed to go to education and research,« she added.

To block central Humanities offices next week

Magnus Pedersen, chairman of the for National Union of Students in Denmark (DSF), will have none of it:

»Did we get an answer as to whether four hours of teaching is enough? I don’t think we did. We need to have politicians take their responsibility in this case,« he said.

Students plan to further ramp up their protests next week with blockades of the central Humanities faculty administration offices, sources say.

Cost more than is funded

The context of the cutbacks is that humanities university subjects cost the University of Copenhagen DKK 11,000 more a year per student than what is funded by the government, Universitetsavisen writes.

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