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Think tank: Lazy Danish students should stop goofing around

Fewer SU grant ‘clips’ will help accelerate Danish students through their degrees

Danish students should no longer be paid state education grants for longer than their degrees require, the so-called ‘fjumreår’ or goofing-around grant. This is the recommendation of a just-released report by the independent think tank DEA, which argues that taking away the sixth year of educational support will accelerate graduation.

Read the report here.

The SU (state support for education for Danish students) is a hot topic in Danish politics as it is one of the bulkiest expenses on the national budget. Compared to other European students, Danish students are well off. Different Danish governments have repeatedly said that reforms are on their way to speed up Danish students and expedite them onto the labour market quicker.

»It seems that fewer years of state educational grants will motivate students to finish their studies faster and more efficiently«, the report concludes.

Other students work harder

The report compares Danish grants with other countries, and looks at how grants are used as a motivational factor for graduates.

It suggests that getting rid of the extra year of SU that enables the so-called ‘fjumreår’, in English, a year of goofing around, will help students finish their studies faster.

The study, which concludes on the basis of experience in Germany and Finland, suggests that students there not only finish their studies sooner but that they also study more intensely and take up a bigger load of study work while enrolled at university. Lowering the SU will reduce the average amount of time spend to obtain a degree, the report concludes.

Benefits to higher SU

There is a positive effect to having a high SU, the report establishes.

One of the main conclusions is that a high SU compels more students to aim for a longer education of five years rather than settle for a three-year professional bachelor.

Furthermore, a higher SU reduces the dropout rate, especially among students who do not come from an academic background.

Students union sceptical

This said the report does not recommend to increase the amount of SU in Denmark, which is already on of the highest in the world.

Policymakers should instead just cut the extra year, the ‘fjumreår’ and replace it with increased access to cheap student loans in order to enable more student access from lower economic and social backgrounds.

At Danske Studerendes Fællesråd, DSF, (Union of Danish Students) the conclusions of the report are met with scepticism:

»The extra year of SU is crucial for Danish students to complete a university degree that they are happy with. Danish degrees help to develop independence, reflectivity and solid reasoning. It serves a purpose that they can use enough time to make the right choices in starting a study programme. Sometimes we make the wrong choices, and you have to start a study programme to see that this was not as you expected. Cutting away the extra year of SU might have the negative effect that students never finish,« says Torben Holm, president of DSF.

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