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New centrist government to roll out education reforms

Christiansborg Palace. Photo: Shutterstock.

Denmark has a new government. After 42 days of negotiations, acting prime minister and leader of the Social Democrats Mette Frederiksen finally presented her new three-party coalition government on Wednesday. Among the policies the new government plans to roll out is an extensive education reform that has been widely debated over the last months.

News |   15. Dec 2022

Caroline Hammargren

Journalist

Flanked on each side by former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, now leader of Moderaterne (the Moderates), and Jakob Ellemann-Jensen from Venstre (the Liberal Party of Denmark), Mette Frederiksen presented the new government platform called “Responsibility for Denmark” during a press conference Wednesday.

The three politicians are an unlikely team, expected by few ahead of the election. Together, they form a majority government and will be able to implement all policies that the three parties can agree on.

“Our assessment is that, on behalf of our parties, we can make some of the decisions that changing governments have not been able to deliver. We’ve chosen each other at a special time in history,” she said, citing insecure times of war and economic crisis as reasons for turning towards the middle, rather than her usual left, to form a government.

But besides an emergency inflation-relief package and increased defence spending, the government platform also includes an extensive welfare reform. Areas such as employment, healthcare and education will see extensive changes as the government tries to increase employment and reduce bureaucracy in the public sector.

Many young Danes are neither employed nor studying, while at the same time interest in vocational training and welfare professions is too low. The government wants to make these fields more attractive and make it easier to switch fields or retrain later in life.

While Frederiksen did not delve into details during the press conference, the government platform provides a first glimpse of what is to come. Several points will imply changes to how higher education is organised in Denmark, to be implemented by Christina Egelund, the new Minister for Higher Education and Science, from the Moderates.

More flexible education formats will be established, including making half of all master’s into one-year programmes and a reform of the student grant system (SU). The government also wants to raise student intake in English language graduate diplomas (erhvervskandidatuddannelser) and increase the number of international students in areas where labour is in high demand.

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