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Denmark: shaping the education system to job market needs

Public debate is often stressing the importance to relate higher education more to the needs of the labour market. Such objective has been taken seriously and literally into account by the Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science, Sofie Carsten Nielsen.  At the end of September, she announced that as from 2015 the number of students admitted to degrees with poor job prospects would be limited. The total amount of study places cut is 4 000 within three years, equal to 6% of the total new students' admittance in 2014.

The decision of the Ministry stems from the conclusions of the First report by the Denmark’s Committee on Quality and Relevance in Higher EducationNew Ways - The future higher education system, which called for national quotas for higher education programmes. The model for the increased use of quotas is based on 2002-2011 data on the share of graduates registered as unemployed in their second year after graduation. There will be three different ranges of cuts: courses in subject areas with relatively low above-average graduate unemployment rates (2% to 5%) will have the intakes reduced by 10%, those with 5% to 7.5% above-average graduate joblessness will be cut by 20% and those with the highest above-average graduate unemployment figures (7.5% to 10%) will have to reduce their intakes by 30%.

In response to the decision of the Education Ministry, Copenhagen University and the University of Southern Denmark have announced they will not sign the annual ‘development contract’ with the Education Ministry, effectively refusing to enrol new foreign students. In fact, universities find it difficult to fulfil the internationalisation strategic plan requiring to boost the number of foreign students at Danish universities in a situation where there might be not enough study places available for local bachelor’s candidates who had graduated in Denmark.