Danish university scraps German courses after just five students enrol

Danes who want to study the language of neighbouring Germany will have to look to other universities in the country, after Aalborg announced the closure of its German courses.

Danish university scraps German courses after just five students enrol
Aalborg University. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

After a long period of decline, study of German at Aalborg University is over.

Just five students enrolled this year on the bachelor’s degree programme in German at Aalborg University.

That has resulted in the closure of the programme, Aalborg University announced on Friday.

The decision was unavoidable given the lack of interest, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Henrik Halkier told DR, which first reported the closure.

“We can't conjure (students). Young people want (to study) other things at the moment, and I think that is a real shame, but now we have to face the consequence,” Halkier said.

Recent years have seen admissions to the German degree dwindle, and Aalborg University has also decided to shut down its bachelor's degree in International Business Communication and German.

As such, there is not a single German class left at the university.

“(The lack of students) results in small and vulnerable classes, as well as an impossible financial situation because we receive money when each student passes the exams, and there are not many students to pass,” Halkier told DR.

North and western Denmark's tourism industry is an area which could feel a knock-on effect of the closure.

Up to 26 per cent of the many tourists who come to North Jutland on holiday every year are from Germany.

German skills are needed to provide adequate services to those tourists, according to Per Dam, CEO of holiday accommodation firm Sol og Strand.

“For the slightly older generation in particular it is important that we can accommodate them in their language. It makes them feel more welcome,” Dam said to DR.

Although being able to speak German with visitors does not necessarily require a university education, Dam said he was concerned about the decline of the language in Denmark generally.

“Whether it is at the bakery, restaurant or the supermarket, it is important to have some basic German skills. We don't all need to be college educated, but our knowledge and ability to learn comes from the universities, and that's what I'm worried about,” he said.

Halkier said that initiatives to attract more students to the Aalborg University German programmes had failed to have the requisite impact.

“Learning language is hard work, and may as such be somewhat reminiscent of the natural sciences, where there is also plenty of memorization and learning, and where there have also been recruitment problems,” he said.

Future Danish students wishing to learn German will have to head to Aarhus or Copenhagen.

The programme in International Business Economics and Spanish at Aalborg University will also be closed for admissions, Aalborg University has confirmed.

Students who have already started their degrees will be able to complete their studies, however.

READ ALSO: Has the Danish language stopped borrowing English words?

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