Denmark's finance bill for 1999 adds 3,100 extra higher education places next year and a further 3,900 a year until 2003 but there are not enough applicants. Fewer than 60 per cent of 2,400 places created last year have been filled.
The finance bill provides about DKK 135 million (Pounds 12.75 million) in extra funding next year and changes the intake criteria.
Students accepted on the basis of qualifications and experience other than a university entrance-level exam will be reduced to an average of 20 to 25 per cent of annual intake compared with their current share of up to 80 per cent on some courses. This means that the number of students accepted on the basis of their qualifying exams will be higher and the required average marks lower.
The ministry of education calculates that 1,200 of the 3,100 new places will go to universities while the rest enter medium-length higher education, giving virtually free access to teacher training and nursing. But nursing schools could not fill their courses last year, and the teacher training colleges do not expect growth.
Per Frimer-Larsen, chairman of the teacher training college rectors, said:
"We're more interested in deciding how we'll distribute the students when the number of applicants falls, as we expect."
Henrik Toft Jensen, rector of Roskilde University Centre, doubts whether the change will have any real effect. Less than a fifth of Roskilde's intake is by qualification and experience, and the universities' autonomy means that they determine the balance between the quotas.
Copenhagen University rector, Kjeld M?llgard, said that the limit has been reached in the most popular courses. "We'll take our share of the new students - if there's room. We don't want to use the canteens for education."