BM71:Keep education in Denmark free and independent

08.12.2016
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Keep education in Denmark free and independent

ESU is concerned about the development in Denmark on the independence of higher education. Recently there have been suggestions of introducing private universities, of linking funding of institutions to the employment level of graduates and of introducing ministry-appointed members into the executive boards of the universities. Introducing private universities in Denmark would go against the principle of education as a public good and a public responsibility, and it would put the education provided in these institutions into direct influence of a market, making education a commodity. Linking funding of education to employment levels of graduates would not only create financial insecurity for the institutions by basing parts of their funding on a parameter which they cannot directly influence, it also sends the message that education is primarily an instrument for employment rather than a value in itself with multiple purposes. This puts pressure on institutions to try to design education more for the labour market and less for the broader purposes. Having members of the executive boards of the universities appointed by the minister of higher education would give the minister more power over the governance of the institutions. This would compromise their autonomy and diminish the power of the democratic structures in the universities. Failure to safeguard the principles of free, independent and democratically governed education puts at risk the quality of education as well as the rights for students to influence and improve their education. ESU stresses that education should not be treated as a commodity to be traded on a market, education should not be treated as merely a tool for employment, and education governance should be kept independent from excessive governmental influence. Therefore, ESU encourages the Danish government to keep in mind the importance of the independence of academia and to refrain from introducing measures that compromise this value.

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