Archive for February, 2010

Doctorate expansion continues in Denmark

February 21, 2010

From University World News

In 2007, 432 new international students were recruited to undertake a PhD in Denmark’s universities – a 75% rise in eight years.

As a part of the government’s globalisation strategy of allocating 0.5% of GNP or 39 billion DKK (US$7.1 billion) between 2006 and 2012, the number of new PhD students is expected to reach 2,400 this year, double the number in 2003. At the same time, total foreign enrolments are expected to rise so that foreign students will represent 25% of new enrolments.

The PhD degree was introduced in 1992 and, with adoption of the Bologna requirements, Denmark already had the required degree structure. An extensive review of PhD education was carried out in 2006 and the report explicitly recommended greater internationalisation of the doctorate training:

“We want to recommend admission of foreign students to a much higher degree than has been the case until now,” the report stated. “Mobility should be understood as active recruitment of foreign PhD students, both as degree students and as guest students on shorter visits.

“A reasonable goal should be that the internationally recruited proportion of new PhD students each year should increase to 25%. This would improve the quality of PhD education and also be a potential source of income from students from countries outside the European Union.”

Under the globalisation policy of 2006, an agreement was reached with the universities that the annual intake of new PhD students should be 2,400 from 2010. It was also agreed that the growth in PhD priority should be given to the technological sciences, natural sciences, health and information technology. As well, 150 industry PhD positions should be established at Danish universities by 2010, allocated after a competition.

For Copenhagen University, this means 850 new PhD positions although the university is already facing difficulties having fired 100 researchers in biology and geology. A spokesman said the university needed an additional DKK 250 million to implement the agreement.

Povl Tiedemann

February 2010


50 Chinese tycoons donated US$ 146.5 million to universities

February 5, 2010

From China Daily / Asia News Network

A ranking of Chinese tycoons’ donations to their alma maters has been released, following the controversy over entrepreneur Zhang Lei who gave a record US$8,888,888 to Yale University, China Daily-Asia News reports. The ranking, published by an independent Chinese website, included more than 50 tycoons who donated a total of over one billion yuan (US$146.5 million) to the Chinese universities they attended.

The website, which focuses on alumni affairs, carried out research on tycoons listed in five rich lists, including Hurun and Forbes, from 1999 to last year, and found alumni from Zhejiang University “the most generous”.

Duan Yongping, 49, a tycoon involved in the electronic appliance business, topped the list for having donated 248 million yuan to Zhejiang University. Duan, who studied at Zhejiang University from 1977 to 1982, ranked 71st on the Forbes rich list in 2003 and 340th with a fortune of three billion yuan on last year’s Hurun rich list.

Povl Tiedemann

February 2010

EUA promotes Full Cost university collaboration

February 4, 2010

By Alan Orborne, University World News

Two projects aimed at improving the ability of European universities to meet the challenges posed by the EU’s Lisbon Strategy for increasing the union’s technical competitiveness are to be launched by the European University Association.

The programmes reflect a need for new tools and methodologies if Europe’s higher education sector is to play its part in equipping the EU to compete successfully in tomorrow’s world.

With the backing of the European Commission, the EUA will launch a range of activities to help universities manage their funding by developing full costing and promote successful collaborative research projects between universities and a wide range of external partners including other research organisations, businesses and agencies of regional government.

Both projects are part of a two-year project by the European Universities Implementing Modernisation Agenda and will run against the background of a third theme – the identification of requirements for the further development of human resources in universities so as to enhance the attractiveness of university careers.

Under the “full costing” heading, the EUA will organise five country workshops over the two-year duration of the project attended by university leaders, funding bodies and responsible government ministries.

The association said in a statement the aim was to raise awareness about full costing as a crucial tool in the financial management of universities and to achieve added value through working together to coordinate its implementation in the national or regional environment.

It defined full costing as “the ability to identify and calculate all direct and indirect costs of a university’s activities, including projects, while allowing for a variety of approaches”.

The workshops will draw on best practice examples and expertise from across Europe, while allowing workshops to best suit the specific needs and conditions in each country.

To promote collaborative research projects, eight workshops will develop monitoring tools and indicators for the assessment of university-based collaborative research building on experience from previous and current EUA work “looking at building strong relationships between universities and industry for doctoral education and the professional application of PhD holders.

The statement said the EUA would cover the costs of participants’ travel, accommodation and subsistence costs for the one-day events. One factor in assessing applications would be the ability of the institution to attract a substantial amount of relevant stakeholders (between 60 and 120 participants), including representatives from other universities in the region.

The deadline for expressions of interest is 26 February 2010.

More information at

Povl Tiedemann

February 2010

Tuition fees part of broader university reforms in Denmark

February 4, 2010

By Jan Petter Myklebust – University World News.

Tuition fees for foreign students from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area were introduced in 2006 and form part of a broader globalisation strategy for Danish universities as well as a desire to strengthen market mechanisms in higher education.

The number of foreign students in full degree programmes and student exchanges had grown significantly in the first years of the new millennium. The number of full degree students grew by 141% in just six years, while the number of exchange students went up by 80% in the same period.

But after the introduction of tuition fees, the number of new full degree students from outside the EU fell from 1,366 to 753 in two years while the percentage of exchange students grew by 11% The total number of foreign students in Denmark reached an all-time high of 15,262 students in the academic year 2007/2008.

Until 2006, universities were strictly government-funded, receiving a negotiated fee per registered student regardless of their nationality. The situation was the same in Sweden and on paper it made these two countries a very attractive target for non-EU students. In practice the language barrier and very high costs of living limited the influx of foreigners.

Universities are now encouraged to set fees for non-EU students at or above the level of government support for fully funded students. No upper limit is set, but universities no longer receive public funds for these students.

The processes that govern tuition fee setting and the availability of scholarships are not transparent. Prospective students thinking of studying in Denmark have to do their homework because conditions are prone to change quite abruptly. It may, however, still be more attractive to study in Denmark as elite universities in the US and the UK typically charge considerably higher tuition fees.

The language barrier has become less of an issue as today there are more than 100 masters programmes taught fully or partly in English and some attractive cross-scientific degrees. The cost of living, however, is still high.

The normal annual fee for such programmes is around EUR6,000 per year but fees can go up to as much as EUR24,000 for experimental clinical subjects.

One priority for the government is to have foreign students to remain in Denmark after graduation. Today, less than 30% of foreign students still live in Denmark one year after graduation.

University World News asked Danish Science Minister Helge Sander if he was satisfied with the introduction of tuition fees for foreign students.

“We feared that with free education also for students coming to Denmark from outside Europe, the Danish universities would risk being flooded by non-EU/EEA citizens and that this would put a massive strain on the state educational expenses,” Sander replied.

“But although Denmark introduced tuition fees, we secured the opportunity of studying for free in Denmark for highly qualified students by introducing a scholarship scheme. Through the funding for this scheme, the Danish state can control expenses associated with educating foreign students in Denmark.”

Sander said that about the same time as tuition fees were introduced, the government had initiated a major national initiative to promote the country as an attractive study and career destination for international students. The national campaign, which started in 2007, helped ensure Denmark continued to attract highly qualified international students from all over the world, despite the introduction of fees.

“So yes, I see the introduction of tuition fees for students from countries outside the EU and EEA as successful. In fact, I can tell you that Sweden right now is also considering the introduction of tuition fees and for that purpose they are looking at our Danish model,” he said.

Integrating the issue of tuition fees with a new privatisation drive, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has proposed an arrangement where private companies pay foreign students a salary during their studies while the government covers the tuition fees. Students participating in this scheme will then have to commit themselves to work in the Danish company for at least two years after graduation.

Povl Tiedemann

February 2010

Danish quest for world-class universities

February 2, 2010

Jan Petter Myklebust – University World News.
Denmark’s goal of 1% of GNP spending on public research will be achieved next year, according to Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Helge Sander.

Sander has promised to strengthen the taximeter payment for humanities and social sciences with DKK5,000 a year in 2012 and said laboratories would also be modernised at a cost of DKK6 billion over the next six years. As the present budget proposal for 2010 covers 80% of this, he is thereby targeting 50% of the underfunding of the humanities and social sciences, as proposed by a McKinsey report recently.

But opposition parties want more tangible results. Kirsten Brosbøl, spokeswoman on research for the opposition Social Democrats, proposed appointing a national commission to investigate how universities might reach world-class level.

Brosbøl said the focus should be on the relationship between research and higher education: “Research has always received most of the budget increase, but it’s time to discuss what is meant by world class universities and how to finance this,” she said.

She is dissatisfied that the DKK13 million McKinsey report did not tackle the issue of the quality of higher education, even if this were Parliament’s intention when requesting the analysis. The proposed national commission would qualify the definition of world-class higher education and the costs needed for realising this goal.

Compared with other European countries and even neighbouring states, Denmark is in a favourable position to continue its higher education reforms. The government, most of parliament and industry are calling for improvements and they monitor the government’s actions closely.

But the complex budgetary system giving the ministry detailed control has also come under fire with universities claiming greater autonomy would be the solution. Denmark separates the budget for higher education from that of research while the taximeter system links allocations directly to the number of students passing their examinations.

In 2008, when other government institutions received a 2% budget cut, universities received an incentive grant for students who passed their examinations within the normal time requirements for the degrees.

Universities argue the taximeter payments, and the separated funding for research, do not provide enough flexibility for effective use of budgets. In a letter to government, Universities Denmark stated, “International research indicates the world’s top-ranking universities have large degrees of freedom and that increased autonomy, with sufficient funding, are conditions required to develop strong and competitive universities.

“Globalisation demands the ability to act quickly and make long-term plans. Old-fashioned regulation-controlled management does not allow flexibility and encourages short-term solutions.”

A more favourable situation has prevailed since 2006 when an agreement was reached between the major political parties and the government to establish a funding scheme for globalisation measures until 2012. This so-called “globalisation funds” is re-negotiated annually, involving many stakeholders.

The total globalisation funds for 2006-2012 might exceed DKK39 billion (0.5% of GNP), which has given higher education new energy and laid the foundations for attaining world- class status for universities.

At the annual meeting of the Liberal Party, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen launched an ambitious goal to have at least one Danish university among the top 10 in Europe by 2020, as measured by the THE ranking. At present,Copenhagen is 15th in Europe on the list while Aarhus is 20th.

Povl Tiedemann

February 2010