2019 General Election key battleground issues: Education - The Post

2019 General Election key battleground issues: Education

Is there any hope for Venstre in the final week before the vote?

As always, education is a hot topic (photo: Pixabay)
May 30th, 2019 12:11 pm| by Edward Owen 

Wednesday June 5 sees the long-awaited general election taking place in Denmark.

Lagging behind in the polls, PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s number would appear to be up.

However, Venstre’s performance in Sunday’s European elections suggests his party is fighting back.

But with the other blue bloc parties losing support, is it too little to late, given the strength of the red bloc.

Last issue, CPH POST assessed three key battleground issues: health reform, the welfare state and taxes.

Now to complete the picture, we are taking on immigration, climate and education.

Battle severity: Simpsons episode ‘Bart the General’
Agent provocateur: Søren Pape Poulsen
Key incendiary device: Education ceiling
Potential civil war: Konservative vs rest of blue bloc
Potential casualties: Students caught up in this mess

Education, education, education.  Or should that be consensus, consensus, consensus?

Maintaining a fairly low profile in the election coverage thus far, there is an emerging consensus on a key issue: the education ceiling.

Since its introduction in 2016, the Uddannelsesloft education ceiling has become an increasingly unpopular aspect of public savings. It essentially threatens to punish those who later regret their choice of study (e.g bachelor’s degree) by not allowing for further state-funded education at the same or lower level.  There are professional and vocational exemptions, and a six-year limit to the rule. However, it now looks as though the charges have been set in all corners of the room.

Red Bloc
Together, the red bloc all agree on free and equal access to education, all well as removing the ceiling.  Socialdemokratiet wants to encourage variety, thus allowing people to pursue the path they wish. This means the focus does not have to be the classic long academic education, and that vocational training should be well-funded.

This sentiment is echoed by SF, which is also keen on additional funding for vocational training.  Whilst the educational journey should not be prescribed the same way for everybody, there should be stronger collaborations between universities and employers.  SF wants to promote academic content that transfers into the world of work.

Alternativet appears to have a strong focus on the needs of different students, advocating a principle that learning at any level should begin and end with the individual. This is supported by a nine-point policy on schools, which includes a greater focus on sustainability – more creativity with less focus on grades and tests.

Radikale would not only like to abolish the education ceiling, but also remove limits on international study places. This is part of an ambition to see an education system that is both outward-looking and inviting in order to promote an international study environment.  Radikale also acknowledges Denmark’s spatial development issues with an ambition to create more study places outside the major cities.

Like many of the red bloc, Enhedslisten want to ensure the SU financial student support is a proper amount that students can live on. Education should be flexible, allowing for study regardless of learning speed and age. Research should be free from business interests.

Blue Bloc
The VLAK government may have introduced the education ceiling, but only Konservative says the ceiling must remain.  Shots were fired last week when its leader Søren Pape Poulsen  questioned the credibility of his colleagues’ sudden change in attitude. He suggested it was untrustworthy to flip-flop on the issue so close to an election.  Regarding general approaches to teaching, the party believes in retaining grade systems and shorter school days.

LA wants to not only abolish the education ceiling, but to also uncap how much students may earn alongside SU.  This falls in line with LA’s general philosophy of keeping money in people’s pockets for a strong economy – they’ll probably spend it.

Tommy Ahlers of Venstre has also joined the retreat, but cautions that removing the ceiling would need an extra 300 million kroner from the budget.  The party would also like to maintain the coupling percentage for free schools – i.e 76 percent subsidy per student.

Dansk Folkeparti believes in placing equal importance on manual and intellectual labour, along with a free choice between state and private schools. Furthermore, the publication of grades can incentivise schools to be better.

In similar fashion, Nye Borgerlige has only one stipulation in its otherwise hands-off approach: publicly-funded schools should be based on Danish values and democracy.

Overall, it would seem peer pressure isn’t restricted to school.