Danish doctor deal 'idiotic'

October 4, 1996

A new agreement which subsidises Norwegian medical students studying in Denmark, displacing Danes in a country which already facing a shortage of doctors and dentists, has created a political storm.

A leading Danish politician said a new agreement between the two countries was "completely idiotic" and "blatant exploitation".

Ole Vig Jensen, the Danish minister of education, signed the inter-Nordic agreement on access to higher education last month. Although Norway is not a member of the European Union, the new agreement means that Norwegians may study in Danish universities on an equal footing with EU undergraduates.

As a result, the 26 Norwegians who are initially studying medicine or dentistry this academic year are expected to increase to 310 in 1997/98. According to Eva Teilmann of Aarhus University, Denmark's problem is not new and the arrangement could cost several hundred million kroner during the coming years.

The agreement puts the annual fee for an undergraduate at about DKr22,000 (Pounds 2,420), or about a third of the real cost.

This causes Mr Jensen to expect that fewer students will apply next year - more than 300 Norwegians applied under the scheme this year.

One of the consequences is a higher grades requirement for Danish students.

This is unacceptable to Kresten Philipsen, chairman of Amtsradsforeningen (the Danish association of regional councils) whose members are responsible for hospitals.

He said: "I can't understand the minister signing this agreement if it leads to a lack of Danish doctors. If the universities' figures are correct, a third of the 850 undergraduates at medical schools will be Norwegians. To me it looks like a blatant exploitation by Norway of our study places." The annual cost of educating a medical undergraduate is at least DKr65,000, he said.

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