Higher education in Denmark has been under siege for a few years now. All that free education doesn’t come without cost. In the last few years (starting 2014), there has been “dimensioning” – the Universities were told to reduce student spaces overall, particularly in programs that students might not find jobs from right out of school. Though given some time to work on how to do this (and what programs those might be) many decisions have been made, such as the coming loss of Arabic Studies, Chinese, Spanish, Maritime Archaeology, and some Biology programs as well as reductions in other language, culture and biology programs here at SDU.
Then with the new government (2015) came additional cut-backs – almost 9 billion dkk over the next four years from the universities – about a 10% cut – AND a gutting of the Danish Research Council funding opportunities (cut by about 1/2 for some of the vehicles in an already extremely competitive system). The University of Copenhagen has put even more languages on the chopping block – their new list of programs at risk and getting limited uptake includes their Greenlandic “Eskimology” program, Ancient Greek, Finnish, Hebrew, Turkish, Polish, Balkan Studies, and other unique and interesting programs that make for unique and interesting people to populate this nation and connect to the broader world around it.
Coming from the liberal arts, I am extremely concerned about the long run outcomes of these increasingly distressing decisions. I fear Denmark will seriously rue these non-marginal, hard-to-reverse decisions. Driving language, culture and heritage out of the academic purview cannot lead to better outcomes in these times of global change and uncertainty. Penny-wise and pound-foolish!
And by the way, if anyone is looking for a pretty nifty Marine Archaeology program, there’s one available to come to you…and now, back to my efforts to keep a healthy Environmental and Resource Economics department!