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A new proposal will make it more expensive for students to commute. Student Council describes it as 'a deathblow to student finance'
In the latest of a series of education cutbacks, the Danish government has proposed cutting transport discounts for commuters travelling long distances to the city to study. The proposal includes a radical price hike on the ‘Ungdomskort’ (the Danish student travel card), removing the DKK 607 ceiling on monthly costs. If accepted by parliament the changes will be effective 1 July 2016.
The cuts will have serious consequences for student commuters. People commuting between Odense and Copenhagen face a monthly increase from DKK 607 to DKK 1,646 – an extra DKK 12,000 per year.
”This is a direct attack on student mobility and the freedom to choose a place of education. The Ministry of Finance has cooked this up hoping to save millions with no regard whatsoever for the consequences this has in the real world,” says Jacob Mark, spokesman on education for the Socialist People’s Party to the Danish language site Uniavisen.dk.
“DKK 1000 is the total disposable income for many students, so how do they expect young people from outside the city to take an education if it costs everything they have?” says Jacob Mark.
Cuts could mean that young people with financial difficulties will drop taking a degree altogether, he reckons: “This is the latest of three ways to make life harder for students: cuts in education, fewer inexpensive homes and, now, price hikes in public transportation.”
The UCPH Student Council’s Alexander Thorvaldsen calls it “a deathblow to the finances of students living outside Copenhagen.”
“It was never supposed to be a state-funded transport discount for Copenhageners,” says Anni Matthiesen, spokesperson for education for the governing Liberal Party (V): The transport discount was originally made to help student commuters living outside the four major university cities, but 75 percent of the people using the discount live in cities already.
The Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education told Universitetsavisen.dk that approximately 10,600 students will be affected by the price hike. The University of Copenhagen currently has 420 students living on Fyn and 1,400 on Zealand in areas that will be affected.
But the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, on Fyn, will be hit the hardest if the proposal goes through: Every 8th student at the university commutes between Copenhagen and Odense, meaning thousands of students will be paying DKK 1,000 more per month.
In the meantime, students are venting their anger in comments.
“First they cut our SU [monthly student allowance, ed.] and tell us to move out of the city, where rent is low. Then they cut our transport support and tell us to move closer to the city to avoid transportation costs. They don’t even try to lie convincingly.” writes Benjamin in a comment on Uniavisen.dk.
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