Danish colleges brace for impact of English-language education closures 

As many as 4,000 places on 87 different English-language education courses in Denmark, primarily at business academies and on professional bachelor programmes, are to close from next year.

Danish colleges brace for impact of English-language education closures 
University College North Jutland (UCN) campus in Thisted. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The closures are the result of a widely-backed political deal, passed by parliament in June, aimed at reducing Denmark’s spending of its state student grant, SU, on foreign students who can claim it through EU nationality or other eligibility.

The government and its left wing ally Socialist People’s Party, along with all of Denmark’s conservative parties, early this summer voted through the proposal to cut programmes taught in English.

The reduction is targeted at English-language programmes where too few English-speaking students find employment in Denmark after graduation, according to Denmark’s Ministry of Education and Research. 

Programmes where higher proportions of English-speaking graduates enter the Danish workforce, and those that have a unique significance on the regional labour market, are protected from the reduction.

Following parliament’s decision in June, educational institutions last week were informed which programmes, currently attended by as many as 4,000 students, must be closed.

READ ALSO: English-language programmes at Danish universities face cuts

The Confederation of Danish Industry, DI, spoke out against the decision in an report by newspaper Jyllands-Posten published on Friday, arguing it will cost Denmark money in the long term by making it more difficult for businesses to fulfil hiring needs.

“It’s a shame there was not a closer dialogue with the businesses community about what needs the future will bring and what must be done to make English-language graduates more attractive (for employment),” DI’s junior director Mette Fjord Sørensen told Jyllands-Posten.

“In particular in Jutland you could possibly see a good way to recruit staff from that route because companies there are battling to attract their workforces,” Sørensen added.

Sørensen and DI are not alone in expressing concerns about the cuts.

Harald Elmo Mikkelsen, dean of one of the institutions most impacted by the decision, VIA University College, told Jyllands-Posten that Denmark risks losing important labour resources.

“We talk about not have enough labour in this country and that we need young people in the technical professions where many of these programmes are actually being closed down. Just looking at the pool of Danish young people is not enough to fill these places,” he said.

“So it would have been good to have applied a more broadly-oriented perspective – instead of staring blindly at the maximum of 150 million kroner that is causing SU problems [state student grant spending, ed.] in this,” he added.

The VIA University College dean also admitted more could have been done by institutions to boost employment in Denmark amongst its graduates, including building Danish language classes into programmes. The colleges “should have been given some years” to prove they could deliver results in this area, he said.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark have so many job vacancies?

The reduction of English-language programmes at institutions of higher education is rooted in an effort to reduce rising costs of state educational grants (SU) in Denmark. Despite attempts to reduce SU expenses, the cost is expected to rise to 570 million kroner by 2025, far above the cap of 449 million kroner set in 2013. 

Among the targeted programmes are business academies and professional bachelor programmes, where 72 percent of students are English-speaking and only 21 percent find work in Denmark after completing their education. 

VIA University College is set to see its turnover suffer a 100 million kroner reduction following the cuts while University College North Jutland (UCN) will have 10 percent fewer students, Jyllands-Posten writes.

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Greenland foreign minister axed over independence remarks

Greenland's pro-independence foreign minister Pele Broberg was demoted on Monday after saying that only Inuits should vote in a referendum on whether the Arctic territory should break away from Denmark.

Greenland foreign minister axed over independence remarks
Greenland's pro-independence minister Pele Broberg (far R) with Prime Minister Mute Egede (2nd R), Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd R) at a press briefing in Greenland in May 2021. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mute Egede, who favours autonomy but not independence, said the ruling coalition had agreed to a reshuffle after a controversial interview by the minister of the autonomous Arctic territory.

Broberg was named business and trade minister and Egede will take on the foreign affairs portfolio.

The prime minister, who took power in April after a snap election, underscored that “all citizens in Greenland have equal rights” in a swipe at Broberg.

Broberg in an interview to Danish newspaper Berlingske said he wanted to reserve voting in any future referendum on independence to Inuits, who comprise more than 90 percent of Greenland’s 56,000 habitants.

“The idea is not to allow those who colonised the country to decide whether they can remain or not,” he had said.

In the same interview he said he was opposed to the term the “Community of the Kingdom” which officially designates Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, saying his country had “little to do” with Denmark.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953 and became a semi-autonomous territory in 1979.

The Arctic territory is still very dependent on Copenhagen’s subsidies of around 526 million euros ($638 million), accounting for about a third of its budget.

But its geostrategic location and massive mineral reserves have raised international interest in recent years, as evidenced by former US president Donald Trump’s swiftly rebuffed offer to buy it in 2019.

READ ALSO: US no longer wants to buy Greenland, Secretary of State confirms

Though Mute Egede won the election in April by campaigning against a controversial uranium mining project, Greenland plans to expand its economy by developing its fishing, mining and tourism sectors, as well as agriculture in the southern part of the island which is ice-free year-round.

READ ALSO: Danish, Swiss researchers discover world’s ‘northernmost’ island