According to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, 15,000 students each year currently sign up for an education that has poor job prospects. The government will now cut that number to 11,000 within the next three years.
“Adjusting the number of available student places doesn’t mean that fewer should take an education. We naturally still need many graduates within the humanities and social sciences. But we need to find a better balance so that students in the coming years will move toward educations with better job outlooks,” the minister for higher education, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, said in a press release.
The changes will be based on the unemployment numbers among graduates in different fields. In those education areas in which graduate unemployment is between 2-5 percent, available student spots will be decreased by 10 percent. For educations that produce 5-7.5 percent unemployment, the student uptake will be cut by 20 percent. Fields in which graduates face an unemployment rate of more than 7.5 percent will see 30 percent fewer students in the future.
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Nielsen acknowledged that the changes would not be easy for universities.
“I know this requires a feat of strength from the institutions, but all higher educations need to be more in tune with the job market that will await students. We cannot and should not accept so many educations leading to joblessness,” she said.
University leaders expressed scepticism and frustration after Nielsen’s announcement.
“This could mean that, for example, we will decrease the student uptake in German, which connects to Denmark’s largest export market. Could that really be in the best interest of the business community?” University of Copenhagen rector Ralf Hemmingsen asked when speaking to Politiken.
Bjarne Graabech Sørensen, the prorector at the University of Southern Denmark, warned that the cuts could lead to the complete elimination of some study subjects.
“A 30 percent reduction isn’t so small. There needs to be a certain amount of students to reach a critical mass and if there aren’t more than 20 students in an education, it doesn’t make sense either economically or pedagogically,” Sørensen told Politiken.