Four days later: 57.059 signatures against new double studies law

A bill which will limit Danish students from taking more than one post-secondary degree is being me by massive protests from students all over the country.

[Translate to English:] De studerende rører på sig igen. Denne gang er det lovforslaget om et uddannelsesloft, der vækker harme og har fået flere end 57.000 danskere til at skrive under på en underskriftsindsamling mod forslaget. Arkivfoto: Lars Kruse

On Sunday evening, a group of students from the Regensen residence hall in Copenhagen began a petition against former Minister for Higher Education and Science Ulla Tørnæs’ bill to prevent double studies. A bill that will limit Danish students’ opportunities for taking more than one government-funded post-secondary degree at the same or lower level. 20,000 Danes signed the protest within the first 26 hours. At the time of writing, that number has reached 57.059 and rising.

Overwhelming support

"We’ve been really taken by surprise that it’s gone so quickly. It just goes to show that there are many people who agree that the bill is a really bad idea," says Anna Frøsig from the group behind the petition.

According to her, the petition arose out of frustration with the bill, which the Liberal Party, the Danish People's Party and the Social Democratic Party voted in favour of during the first reading in the Danish Parliament on 9 November.

Bill rushed through

"We believe that the bill has been rushed through without sufficient time for consultation responses or proper committee work. The whole premise of the bill is just completely wrong. It focuses on a very small percentage who take more than one degree programme. These are people who want to do something with their education. We believe that the interdisciplinarity they demonstrate actually benefits society," says Frøsig, who is herself one of the students who has taken more than one higher education.

The Bill states that in 2014 more than 2,200 students began a new post-secondary degree, even though they had already taken one at a similar or higher level. A political majority wishes to restrict the possibility of double studies, though there will be a few individual possibilities for exemption.

The bill proposes introducing the new rules already from the turn of the year, and the approx. DKK 300 million that the state can save – according to calculations – by limiting the number of students with double degrees, should be used to finance changes in the unemployment benefit system.

Delivering the petition and manifestation

The group behind the petition is planning to deliver the signatures to the politicians at a committee meeting of the higher education and science committee on 13 December. Frøsig says they hope that the many signatures will lead politicians to a rethink when the bill comes up for its second reading in the parliament on 16 December. The group also encourages people to come to a manifestation against the bill at Frue Plads in Copenhagen on 18 December. The event begins at 15:00 and is organised by The National Union of Students in Denmark together with a number of other student movements.

Translated by Peter Lambourne