Government does u-turn on SU stipends

Advisory board contends that slashing state-allocated student allowance could backfire

The minister for higher education, Morten Østergaard (Radikale), has for the first time admitted that the government’s forthcoming reform of the state-allocated student allowance, SU, will include cuts to the stipend itself.

Østergaard promised, however, that even with the cuts Denmark would still have the world’s most generous student stipend system. He offered no specifics on the cuts.

“The reform will consist of two components. We want to cut down on delays in students’ educations and we will address the areas of SU in which we are too generous,” Østergaard told Berlingske newspaper. “But it still won’t be the size of someone’s wallet that determines whether or not one gets an education in Denmark.”

The government indicated last year that it would look into generating savings of two billion kroner a year by moving students through their educations quicker. And although the government had previously rejected cutting into the SU stipend itself, it now seems prepared to cut SU in order to make the savings.

Opposition party Venstre and far-left party Enhedslisten have both accused the government of breaking its promise, while student organisations warn that cutting back on SU could result in negative consequences.

“This will significantly reduce equal access to the education,” Jakob L Ruggaard, the head of students' association Danske Studerendes Fællesråd, told Berlingske.

While Østergaard didn't offer specifics, Berlingske suggested that cutting parts of the SU could save up to one billion kroner, accounting for half of the government’s goal.

One of the areas that the government is expected to slash is the sixth year of availability for the SU stipend, an extra year which students can currently use to extend their education. It is a move that the government hopes will encourage students to finish their educations quicker and save the state money.

But disposing of the extra SU year won’t have the desired effect, the education ministry advisory board, SU-rådet, warned. 

“There are no indicators that show that removing the extra SU year will influence student activity. On the contrary, there will be more drop outs and there will be more youths from low-educated homes that decide against taking an education,” Per Andersen, head of SU-rådet, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Andersen is backed up by Preben Sørensen, the administration director at Aalborg University, who doesn’t think that the 600 million kroner that could be saved by cutting the extra year is worth it.

”It will mean more drop outs and extended study times, the opposite effect of what politicians want. Some will stop when they have their bachelor's degree, while others will turn to work, putting them further behind,” Sørensen told Jyllands-Posten.

Danske Studerendes Fællesråd was positive over the warnings from the advisory board.

“I am pleased that the news comes from the minister’s own experts. From today, at least, it is clear that if the government cuts the extra SU year, then it will be a political decision. And one that won’t save any money.” Ruggaard told Jyllands-Posten.

  • Coping in Copenhagen: Børsen, Burgers and layoffs

    Coping in Copenhagen: Børsen, Burgers and layoffs

    Join comedians and writers Abby, Owen and Marius every Friday as they pick through the week’s headlines and swap notes on life in the capital.

  • Iranian Artist Takes Rebels to Aarhus

    Iranian Artist Takes Rebels to Aarhus

    The defiant collective soul of the Iranian women has transcended eras and borders to haunt Aarhus, Denmark where the city’s art museum, ARoS, is presently hosting an exhibition by Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari titled “Rebel Rebel.”

  • Traffic jam will increase in the capital area – more time will be wasted

    Traffic jam will increase in the capital area – more time will be wasted

    A new analysis shows that there will be more pressure on the roads in the capital area towards 2035. With six percent more inhabitants, there will be greater strain on trains and on cycle paths in several places in the region

  • “A Brit walks into a bar…”

    “A Brit walks into a bar…”

    Last night, as I was getting ready to perform in a comedy show at Teater Play in Amager alongside the brilliant Conrad Molden, my four-year-old daughter looked up at me and asked, ‘Daddy, why are you ALWAYS going to do comedy?’

  • Palads’ future will (maybe) be decided tonight

    Palads’ future will (maybe) be decided tonight

    Politicians in Copenhagen will today decide whether Nordisk Film can continue with plans to demolish Palad and build a new building.

  • How to survive Copenhagen as an exchange student

    How to survive Copenhagen as an exchange student

    Studying in a different country is a luxurious opportunity, and Copenhagen is a popular destination. Upon arrival, the realization kicks in that adapting to this new environment may be easier said than done.