Denmark’s Education Ministry Considering Reduction of English-Taught Courses

The Danish government is considering cutting the number of courses taught in English and introducing a combined Danish-English degree instead, the Danish Higher Education and Science Minister Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen has said in response to a letter addressed to the parliamentary education committee.

Earlier, Halsboe-Jørgensen postponed actions on reducing the number of English-taught degrees, Erudera College News reports.

Nevertheless, the letter delivered by Tine Mathiassen on January 6, who was an invigilator last term at the professional bachelor degree first-year examination in international sales and marketing at the UCL University College in the region of Southern Denmark (UCL Odense) regarding several Spanish non-qualified students recruited by agents, has pushed the minister to react.

The same letter was published in Akademikerbladet, attracting the attention of Danish parliament members, and the same could cause disturbance on the balance of support between political parties regarding the 2013 agreement on state educational grants (SU) for EU students.

Following this, the Danish universities could be obliged to reduce the number of English-taught courses, just like in 2018 when a total of 1,000 study places had to be cut to reduce the number of EU students qualified for Danish SU.

Mathiassen highlighted that she was called by the teacher of a group of students while beginning to invigilate the exam at UCL Odence. The latter told her that 17 out of 27 students came from Valencia in Spain and many of them did not possess the adequate knowledge of the English language.

“The first Spanish student obviously had not read the literature, and he simply did not know anything. He excused himself for the bad English. But even if the exam had been in Spanish, the results would not have been better. When the next Spanish student came in, the same happened. Many of the students had not even bought the books,” she said.

“It Is Better to Have Students Who Really Would Like to Be Here”

It was this occurrence that pushed her to think that it is a waste of Danish taxpayers’ money to teach a group of international students who do not have any interests in the subject, also claiming that she has no political reasons to raise the issue.

“I am not a politician, just a former teacher and now an invigilator. I just felt it was a waste of time for a teacher and a censor to spend a whole day on an examination when many people did not know the subject and-or did not speak any Danish or English,” she told the University World News, adding that it is better to recruit students who really want to continue education in the country.

According to her, it is a loss for the Danish state because a number of international students do not integrate with the Danish students, and they don’t even remain in Denmark after completing studies.

UCL Odense in the letter emphasized that Spanish students are divided into different groups as some are recruited by agents, some come through Erasmus + programs while others are free movers, confirming that students have shown possession of English language tests before being admitted.

“There has been an unexpectedly strong increase in applications from full-time Spanish students since Brexit, which has made the Spanish students apply for studies in other European countries,” the note said.

Since 2013, Denmark has had to provide SU to European Union students working 10 to 12 hours during a week. The latter would receive up to DKK6,243 (US$1,020) a month, which led to a rapid rise in the number of students coming from the EU, from 300 that were in 2010 to 11,900 in 2019.

The parliament agreed to offer DKK441 million (US$72 million) in SU to this group in 2013, an amount that surpassed in 2018 and it is expected to reach DKK201 million (US32.8 million) deficit by 2023 unless government’s intervention.

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