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Overview: A student rebellion is afoot

There is rebellion in the air at the country’s institutions of higher education. With the Protests of 1968 in mind, a group of students from throughout Denmark have taken the initiative for the movement Student Revolt ’22. The movement is motivated by a Danish parliament plan to relocate all, or part of, study programmes out of the larger cities. But the movement has other ambitions also: The students want to have new university legislation, to fight student dissatisfaction and to eliminate the cutbacks.

This is a University Post introduction to the student rebellion of our times.

READ ALSO: Student revolt: »This is a rebellion for those without hope. And it starts with us«

What’s going on?

Students across the country’s higher education programmes are currently encouraging their fellow students to fight. They call themselves the Student Revolt ’22 with reference to the youth-inspired Protests of 1968.

The call for a rebellion has been triggered by a plan, presented by the Danish government in May, to redistribute degree programmes between urban and rural areas. The plan which is called ‘More and better educational opportunities for the whole of Denmark’ was subsequently adopted by a majority in parliament consisting of the Danish People’s Party, the Liberal Party, the Socialist People’s Party, the Red/Green Alliance, the Conservative Party, the New Right, the Alternative Party and the Christian Democrats.

The plan gave Denmark’s larger universities the choice between moving student places out to the provinces, or shutting them down. In many places, university managements have primarily opted for the latter. At the University of Copenhagen, the plan is to cut 1,590 student places, but the university’s management hopes to lower this number.

And the Student Revolt ’22 does not just want to put a stop to the plans to move study programmes.

What do they want?

The Student Revolt ’22 is not just about getting politicians to scrap relocation plans. They want to revolutionise the whole construction of the Danish university system.

The movement has formulated five specific objectives in the manifesto New Premises for Education [in Danish, behind paywall, ed.]:

I. We demand a new Danish University Act.

II. New financing of degree programmes

III. Retract the political agreement on ‘More and better educational opportunities for the whole of Denmark’

IV. Drop the learn-and-apply logic in the educational system

V. Increase new graduates’ unemployment benefits

Since the 2003 University Act there has been too much focus on creating measurable, good graduates for the labour market, the students write in the manifesto. But this is the cause of stress for both students and staff, and they believe that it counteracts the pursuit of knowledge that ought to be the main task of universities.

Who are they?

The Student Revolt ’22 started at Copenhagen Business School, but now extends beyond the boundaries of individual universities, faculties and departments. Students from the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Aalborg University, Copenhagen Business School, the Aarhus School of Architecture, CPH Business Academy and Roskilde University have all signed the manifesto.

Several of the same students who are active in the Angry Students movements and Angry Humanities Students movements are also fighting the relocation plans.

At the University of Copenhagen, the students who are active in the Student Revolt ’22 come from both the Theology, Humanities, Social Sciences and Science faculties.

What is going to happen now?

On 12 January, institutions of higher education in Denmark’s major cities have to submit their plans for the reduction or relocation of student places. The Student Revolt ‘22 group is for this reason currently planning various initiatives and actions throughout the country’s universities.

At the same time, the group is working to get as many students as possible into the movement. At the time of writing, the movement’s Facebook group Student Revolt ‘22 has 1,500 members. You can follow the group there, or on the Instagram profile of the same name.

Minister for Higher Education and Science Jesper Petersen (Social Democrat) does not think that the closure or relocation of all or parts of educational programmes should be the cause for rebellion. He says this to the Politiken news media [Danish, behind paywall, ed.]:

»I have great respect for committed young people who take a stand for their points of view. But I do not believe that they are correct in the criticism of the agreement. If we do not, as politicians, insist on influencing where student admissions take place and provide better financing outside the largest cities, we would see a number of degree programmes in medium-sized towns close. And in the worst case this would mean fewer graduates and a shortage of manpower.«

»This government does not make cuts to education. Quite the contrary,« he says.

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