Business schools find going tough

January 20, 1995

One fifth of Denmark's 56 business colleges lose money, and they lay the blame on reforms that took effect in 1991.

The reforms introduced competition between business and sixth-form colleges for pupils just as low late-1970s birth rates made themselves felt. They also gave schools greater autonomy and new management systems. Funding is now on a cash-per-pupil basis. As a result student numbers at business colleges fell 15 per cent from 22,095 in 1992 to 18,590 last year; sixth-form colleges attracted 20,564 pupils in 1992 and 21,472 in 1993.

John Reinhardt, the chairman of the Association of Governors of Business Colleges, fears that this situation could have disastrous consequences."It is now fashionable to go to a normal sixth-form college instead of studying at a business college for two years for a higher diploma in commerce," he says. "If business colleges have no funds for development, for further education for teachers and for new educational material, the courses we offer young people simply will not attract them. That could lead to closures. " Of the 12 business colleges with a deficit in 1993, ten used their reserves, while two received an injection of funds from the ministry. Together, the business colleges needed Pounds 12.89 million in 1993, and will need Pounds 10.39 million in 1994 and 1995.

Ole Vig Jensen, minister of education, says that the government has improved business colleges' finances, and that they should not expect extra funds. "The schools must attract more students and help change things themselves."

Some business colleges and other schools in the Danish post-secondary educational system are doing just that, offering job-related further education or re-schooling to people who have been unemployed for a long time -- an area where funding has quadrupled to Pounds 9.87 million this year.

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