Students blockade Copenhagen University over proposals to speed up studies

University drops its proposals following protests, but argues that changes have to be made if it is going to get students faster through their studies

Angry students have blockaded the University of Copenhagen today over the university’s proposed policies to make students complete their studies more quickly.

The government passed a reform before in April that sanctions universities if they don’t get their students through their education more quickly – Danish students are some of the slowest in Europe.

Universities have until January 2015 to implement the reform but have yet to receive any specific directives from the government on how to bring down the average time it takes to complete a five-year education by 7.6 months.

In October the University came up with its own proposals that include forcing students to take exams, complete 45 ECTS points per year and restrict the amount of leave that they can take.

The student council is opposed to the proposals, however, and today organised a blockade of all the university entrances to staff and students alike.

On their website, the student council say they are supported by 7,000 students who want the university to drop their plans, and the government to scrap the law.

“The rules will have major consequences for our education and for future students,” student council president Mie Sofie Andersen wrote on their website.

“The expectations to take foreign exchanges, internships and study jobs require that our educations are flexible. Removing the right to take leave and the risk of being kicked out if you fail an exam, are both proposals that our out of sync with the real world.”

The university has caved to pressure and stated in a press release that they were willing to gradually phase in the reforms, and hold off on introducing further initiatives if the study times decrease.

“We are prepared not to introduce new rules around study activities and leave of absences at first,” University of Copenhagen rector Ralf Hemmingsen said in a press release.

“But we will keep an eye on study times and will introduce new initiatives if the university is not on track by 2015. We can’t keep on putting off the problem of tackling long study times.” 

A university spokesperson told the Copenhagen Post that the university risked losing 20 percent of its income, around 350 million kroner, if it does not speed up study times by 2020.

While the university has appealed to both the students and the government to come with proposals on how to implement the reform, the student council would rather that the government dropped it entirely.

“We will continue our work against the other dangerous proposals that the politicians passed in the reform and we strongly urge our rector Ralf Hemmingsen to also pressure the ministry so that the rest of the reform is taken off the table,” Andersen said.

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