Denmark’s top-ranked university says that the government’s plan to cut thousands of study spots in areas that don’t produce jobs will hurt internationalisation efforts and leave students ill-prepared for the global job market.
The University of Copenhagen (KU) said the cuts will result in fewer available spots for international students and give Danes less interaction with a diverse and international student body.
“Many programmes will now no longer have space for international students when we have to stick to the government’s cap on the number of students. With that, we will not be able to live up to the business community’s desire to attract and maintain foreign talent,” the university's prorector for education, Lykke Friis, said in a press release.
“We will not be able to maintain or develop the international student environment we have built up. That will damage the Danish knowledge society and the universities’ global competitiveness,” she added.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science announced last month that it will significantly cut down on the number of education programmes that do not directly produce jobs. Cuts will be based on the unemployment numbers of graduates in different fields, with those programmes that lead to the highest unemployment rates being slashed by up to 30 percent.
KU said that fewer spots for international students won't just be a setback for those foreigners who want to study in Denmark, it also will result in a worse education experience for Danes.
“It’s important for our Danish students to be part of an international student environment. It gives them competences that are necessary in a global job market,” Henrik Busch, the associate dean of the Faculty of Science, said.
The university also said that the proposed education cuts contradict the message from both business leaders and the government that Denmark needs more talented foreigners.
“Parliament must address the fact that many graduate programmers will no longer have room for foreign students or, for that matter, students who come from another university within Denmark. That will affect the government’s action plan for the internationalisation of education,” Friis said.
KU has warned that the government’s plan could result in up to 20 education programmes being completed eliminated, including foreign languages such as Chinese and Portuguese that are key to developing business relationships with fast-growing global economies.
In announcing the ministry’s proposed cuts, Minister for Higher Education Sofie Carsten Nielsen predicted that the universities would resist the move.
“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.