18 January 2016

Slashing small programme offering


A series of study programmes at the University of Copenhagen is about to halt the intake of new students in 2016. Some of the programmes are facing closure because of the government's cost savings.

Thirteen small study programmes will not admit students this summer, and several of them will close down for good. This may mean the end of language programmes such as Turkish, Polish and Finnish. For some of the study programmes, the closure is expected to become permanent when UCPH decides on their future during spring.

- Programmes such as Balkan studies, South East Asian studies or Indian Languages & Culture are all examples of areas where Denmark has important interests and relations. But unfortunately, under the government’s savings regime, the funding for upholding small programmes is no longer available. With eight percent cutbacks, resizing effects on the intake and reductions of the research reserve it will become totally untenable to offer many of our small programmes, says Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Ulf Hedetoft.

The programmes affected by an admissions stop in 2016 are language and area studies within the humanities. Not long ago, Copenhagen Business School also decided to close down a number of language programmes due to lack of financial viability. This requires political action, the dean says:

- The government should put forth a strategy for how to ensure that Denmark can continue to offer a wide range of language programmes at the universities. With the current economic situation as regards education, things can only go one way. Both small and medium-sized language programmes are vulnerable and at risk of succumbing when the economy is under pressure, Ulf Hedetoft says.

Turkish is one of the programmes that will halt the admission of students this year, even though Turkey is an important country when it comes to trade, geopolitics, migration, etc. This is because the programmes are not financially viable.

He is calling for greater focus on the small programmes. This could for example be through the national language strategy, which the Minister has previously promised to draft, by doubling the Budget subsidies for small programmes or by making special allowances in the coming taximeter funding reform.

An example of the financial situation for small study programmes is Turkish. The programme is important, among other things because of Turkey's location between Europe and the Middle East. Moreover, Denmark exports the equivalent of DKK 8 billion a year to Turkey. In 2015, the programme admitted 17 students and has a drop-out rate of 60 percent. Due to the dimensioning of higher education programmes, the intake will be reduced to 12 in 2018. The university will receive approximately DKK 415,000 in income per semester from the state-funded small-programme subsidy. But the cost of teaching etc. will amount to around DKK 760,000.

During spring, the dean will decide how many of the thirteen programmes are to be closed down.  The programmes have been targeted because they regularly require special grants, have low admission rates and suffer high drop-out rates. A few of the programmes may admit new students again in 2017, others may only have admissions every second year, while some will be merged with other programmes in order to create larger and more robust units.

The main part of the thirteen programmes are in Denmark only offered at the University of Copenhagen. Three of the programmes are available at other universities. Aarhus University offers similar but not fully identical programmes in Ancient Greek, Modern India and Balkan studies. It is also possible to study Greek at the University of Southern Denmark, but only as a minor subject.

The future of the small language programmes will be discussed at the University Board meeting on 1 February.

Study programmes with no intake in 2016

Toward 2019, the Faculty of Humanities will see a shrinking of its subsidies of around DKK 125 million, corresponding to up to one fifth of the faculty's budget income. Until now the faculty has offered several small study programmes because Denmark needs to have knowledge and resources in these areas. This is no longer possible. The following study programmes will not admit new students in 2016:

Study programme

Resized intake for 2018

BA drop-out rate

Modern India*

7 -


9 60%
Finnish 5 43%
Hebrew 11 48%
Indology - 55%
South East Asian 12 56%
Tibetology 11 33%
Ancient Greek* 8 70%


10 62%

Balkan studies*

11 35%

Native American languages and culture

10 37%


12 60%


13 56%

*Offered as a BA programme at other Danish universities.

Six of the programmes currently receive a special DKK 1.25 million small-programme subsidy from the state, so there is a level of national preparedness in this area. But this
does not cover the actual costs, so UCPH also supports the small programmes with additional internal funding. The small-programme subsidy scheme was last revised by politicians in 2011 when the subsidy was concentrated on fewer programmes. The scheme is to be renegotiated in 2017.

Dean, Faculty of Humanities
Ulf Hedetoft
Tel.:  2961 1811
Email: hedetoft@hum.ku.dk

Head of Secretariat
Jesper Hede
Tel.:  2448 1262
Email: jhe@hum.ku.dk