Who is … Morten Østergaard?

The article is written with Syrian refugees, among others, in mind (photo: iStock)
February 19th, 2013 8:00 am| by admin
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He is the higher education minister and probably one of the most disliked people among students right now.

What’s he done: cancel the summer break?
Worse, he has the unenviable task of telling them that they need to complete their studies faster and that they are likely to get less in student grants.

Isn’t that only fair, given the economy and all?
He has tried to play the economic card, pointing out that when everyone from infants to the elderly have had to accept cuts, then students should be willing to do the same. Problem is he’s trying to make cuts to the same system that he benefited from, and which allowed him to take nine years to obtain a master’s degree, instead of the usual five.

So he’s a man who knows what he’s talking about, then.
He certainly speaks with the zeal of a convert. Talking to Politiken newspaper recently, he called free education a “benefit”, but noted that the system had led to the development of “expensive” gap years and unnecessarily long periods of study.

Maybe he had a good reason for the delay?
According to his official CV, he completed his studies in 2006. From 2001-2005, he was the ‘market manager for e-government’ for a company called Dafolo, which specialises in the “enhancement of strategic business development”. Starting in 2001, and on a number of occasions, he was also an occasional temporary member of parliament for Radikale. In 2007, he was elected as an MP and has since held leadership posts within the party.

Aside from tilting at sacred cows, what else has he done?
His portfolio as minister also includes science, research, innovation and such, which would seem to be the ideal match for a man who admits to having a “bizarre passion for technology”. His interest, however, extends to more than just when the next iPhone will be released.

In his political career, he has taken an interest in how technology can improve society. He was co-author of the 2004 book ‘Digital forkalkning’ (digital sclerosis), which dealt with e-governance, and he has called digitalisation the “key to a lot of things in areas such as globalisation and innovation”. His philosophy, though, has been that putting something online isn’t the same thing as improving service. “Technology can do a lot, but what it all comes down to is how you roll it out.” As ‘higher education minister’ he’s also suggested that everyone should take some of their studies abroad.

Seems fairly progressive.
As a dad, he showed he’s with it by making sure he took parental leave, despite being a busy cabinet member – but only for two weeks, instead of the government’s recommended three months. Maybe he’s making up for lost time.

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