Victory for student democracy in Denmark
In March 2018, a government-appointed committee, where students were not invited to participate, proposed to remove the decision-making power of the Danish universities’ study boards.
These boards have the task to decide on the curriculum, the structure, and other academic matters of the different educations provided by universities. The national law says that those organisms have to be present in every programme and must have decision-making power, and that half of the sits should be reserved to students; while the other half to teachers. They are the institutional structure where students in Denmark have the most influence, and the place where they can shape their educations. Proposing to reduce them to advisory boards was an attack against student-centered learning, and university democracy principles.
This recommendation was especially controversial since it was launched on the 50th anniversary of the student uprisings that concluded with, among other things, the creation of these boards.
Since March, students have been advocating against this recommendation through protests on the streets, online campaigns, lobby efforts aimed at politicians and stakeholders, and being outspoken in traditional media.
After months of efforts, students in Denmark accomplished their objective: the government rejected the proposal.
Moreover, the government has announced that a new working group will be created. This will have the goal of revising the study boards’ structure to improve their functioning. Students are this time invited as equal members in the group.
Now, the role of the students is very clear: to ensure that this group improves the functioning of the study boards, and that this new working group is not being used to undermine their influence. In other words: to ensure that the influence of students in the governance structures of their university remains safe.