Demos see off Danish budget

February 15, 2002

Denmark's Liberal-Conservative government has dumped proposed cuts in higher education after a week of protests by academics, students and business.

The coalition parties promised in last November's general election to implement massive savings across the whole of education. Universities were to have their budgets cut by 5.8 per cent and their research budgets slashed by 6.3 per cent in 2002.

The cuts would have been Dkr400 million (£32.8 million) this year compared with 2001, rising to Dkr900 million in 2005. This represents 13 per cent of the total university budget of Dkr8.9 billion in 2002.

"Denmark used fewer funds per student on university education than the [Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development] average before these unprecedented cut-backs," Henrik Toft Jensen, rector of Roskilde University Centre and the chairman of the College of Rectors, said. Cuts this big would have meant "larger classes, shorter courses and less tutoring".

Professor Toft Jensen also warned that the original budget's research cuts would have made Denmark less interesting for researchers.

It was a point emphasised by 11 young researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University, who, in an open letter to the government, threatened to find jobs abroad if the cuts went through. According to Linda Nielsen, rector of Copenhagen, her university's share of the cuts was equal to the annual cost of running the law faculty.

National research council chairman Søren Isaksen said the original budget was "a catastrophe in the long term for both research and the development of knowledge. We risk losing a whole generation of researchers."

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