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Demonstration — On the day of the Danish universities' deadline to report cuts and relocations of study programmes to the ministry, students protested in front of parliament.
Angry words were directed against the parliament buildings of Christiansborg from students who had shown up to show their opposition to the so-called regionalisation plan. A number of parties in parliament are behind the plan that will force universities to cut five to ten per cent of their student admission in the country’s largest cities. For the University of Copenhagen, this will mean a reduction of 1,590 student spots. A quarter of humanities spots will be cut.
The University Post spoke to some of the protesters.
Can you feel that your programme has been cut?
»I really can. We rarely get feedback on anything. I just had a course on psychological testing, where the most important point was that one result should never stand on its own. This seems comical when you realize that the results we get always stand on their own. You just get some number. It feels empty and pointless.«
What is the kind of message that you want to send via this demonstration?
»We have seen a change in our syllabus as a result of where the research funding is. This means that many of the things that we used to be proud of in psychology in Denmark and Copenhagen – all the soft social science directions in research – are being cut in favour of the more natural science orientations.«
What has the syllabus on the psychology programme to do with what is happening here today?
»Our subject is being shaped by these cuts. It is all about psychology having to cut, and them therefore systematically pulling in the direction of where savings are to be found. There is no funding for anything because things have been prioritised poorly.«
Why are you here?
»I have just submitted my thesis, but I am here because I have had enough of the cutbacks on the study programmes. Cuts have been made so that there are no longer enough instructors, or money, for any feedback. And this means that the students are not thriving. I myself was afflicted with stress three years ago, and I still have to keep myself medicated to this day. So I’m here for future generations.«
What is the kind of future that you are worried about?
»I have seen entire fields of study and degree programmes shutting down around me. Absurd things like the language programmes no longer being independent subjects, and this will damage Denmark’s international skills profile. In fact, I’m really scared that politicians will shut down degree programmes that are essential for Denmark.«
Why is your own programme essential for Denmark?
»There is an adage that those who do not study history will be forced to repeat it — while those who do study history will be forced to stand yelling at those that do not. This is what we are doing now. Because I know how big a difference it made when we were given free, qualifying university degree programmes that were available to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status. And no matter what they wanted to study.«
How will the regionalisation plan hit you?
»I am in the fortunate situation that I’m a student at the Faculty of Science. There are advantages to this in terms of the funding that is politically prioritised in education.«
How do you feel about the fact that they prioritise your degree programme relative to others?
»Well, right now, I’m looking at studying abroad on exchange. And I can see that the amount of money that has been allocated to me as a student is DKK 20–40,000 higher than that which is earmarked for those who study in the humanities or social sciences. I think that’s a pretty big difference. I think: Why am I so much more valuable than them?«
Is that why you are here today?
»I am here today because I know a lot of people who, unlike me, study in the humanities or social sciences. I think it’s completely grotesque that they have to be given a lower priority because they fulfill other roles in society.«