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Danish grants scheme reform delayed

Better speed up your studies... – or, no, wait, not yet. What now? Usually, there is always a bit of seesaw when somehow unpopular reforms are about to be implemented; the reform of the Danish State Educational Grant and Loan Scheme (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte – SU) is no exception to this unwritten rule.

In April 2013, the Danish government adopted a reform plan of the national grant and loan scheme, which foresaw that grant and loan beneficiaries would have to take courses and exams worth 30 ECTS points per semester. Anticipating potential failure for some of the exams taken, students would be required to successfully pass courses and exams worth at least 45 ECTS points within the framework of a year, or they would risk losing their student grant and loan. By imposing study progress within a specified timeframe as a condition for the eligibility of the national grant and loan scheme, the Danish government has been aiming at reducing the average duration of studies.

Yet, Danish student representatives of the Danske Studerendes Fællesråd (DSF), backed by the European Students’ Union (ESU), have been everything but pleased by the upcoming reform. They argue that the new tight time constraints imposed by the grant and loan scheme reform are likely to undermine the development of skills and employability of students, as they would now no longer have time to complete internships or study one or two semesters abroad. Furthermore, student representatives point to the risk of an increased student dropout rate, which they see as an unavoidable consequence of the upcoming reform – a concern also shared by university representatives.

Eventually, mass student protests at Danish universities caused the Danish Minister of Research, Innovation and Higher Education Morten Østergaard – who himself took nine years to finish his studies – not to withdraw the already adopted reform, but at least to postpone its implementation. At the current stage, the reform will have effect from summer 2014 onwards for newly enrolled students and from summer 2015 for students already enrolled. 

Committee for Science, Higher Education and Innovation - Video of meeting (in Danish)

SU reform agreement (in Danish)

DSF - Campaign against reform (in Danish)

European Students' Union - Press release

Danish Agency for Higher Education and Educational Support - Press release (in Danish)