WENR, September/October 2003: Denmark
Due to the multifaceted nature of Bologna implementation in Denmark, a steering committee – the Bologna Follow-up Group – comprised of representatives of the invested ministries, agencies, institutions and organizations has been set up. The legislative basis for the study programs at universities and other higher education institutions in the university sector is the University Act of 1993, which authorizes the ministry to lay down regulations for the programs. The act does not contain provisions regarding the structure and content of the programs. This has now been made statutory in Act no. 403/2003 on universities, which lays down the degree structure for university programs.
1. Easily Readable and Comparable Degrees
• Denmark has signed and ratified (March 2003) the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications.
• As of September 2002, graduates of all higher education programs in Denmark receive a Diploma Supplement. A common diploma supplement template has been designed, and will be issued by all institutions of higher education as an English-language supplement to the Danish diploma.
• As of July 2002, certificate supplements are issued with all vocational qualifications.
• The Danish Center for Assessment of Foreign Credentials acts as the Danish ENIC/NARIC body.
• A board of appeals assesses disagreements between students and institutions of higher education regarding credits for foreign qualifications.
2. Degree Structure
• The Danish higher education system is divided into two sectors: university and college (professionally oriented higher education sector).
• As a result of reforms in the late 1980s, Danish higher education has switched from a one-tier qualification structure to a two-tier structure with bachelor’s, master’s (candidatus) and doctoral degrees. Previously, all university study programs took between four and 6½ years and led to the award of the candidatus degree.
• Starting in 1988, students who completed three years of a candidatus program were awarded a bachelor’s degree and could use the title B.A. (humanities, theology, social science) or B.S. (natural science, health science).
• In 1993, a general bachelor’s degree structure was introduced (the so-called 3+2+3 system). As a result, almost all university programs now consist of a bachelor program (B.A./B.S.), a candidatus program and a doctoral program. The bachelor program constitutes a complete program in itself, but most students still continue their studies in a candidatus program.
• A few candidatus programs are still organized as one unbroken course, without the bachelor level, such as pharmacy, dentistry, architecture and land surveying. Medicine currently is being restructured from a 6½-year unbroken course into a three-year bachelor plus three-year candidatus course.
• These reforms are statutory as of this year with the new Act on Universities, which lays down the degree structures for university programs. The changes are nearly complete, but universities are developing them further to give more flexible study and exam forms. An example is the University if Copenhagen, which is introducing a thorough revision of curricula and structure of its BSc and MSc programs, to come into effect from Sept. 2004.
• The aim of the new act is to improve the conditions and opportunities of the universities to give multi-disciplinary and strategic priorities to the composite educational, research and dissemination activities. Universities are to enjoy greater autonomy and have strengthened management structures. It is also designed to increase student mobility between Danish universities and to/from foreign universities.
• For medium-cycle higher education programs, the professional bachelor’s degree was introduced in 2000. The programs, mostly aimed at the education and health sectors, have been reformed to fulfill the new requirements. In 1997, short-cycle higher education programs introduced a new sector in Danish higher education, namely a two-year professionally oriented higher education program.
3. Credit Transfer
• As of Sept. 1, 2001, it is obligatory to indicate the size of education units in European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits by all Danish institutions of higher education – universities and colleges alike. The system is student workload-based and has 60 credits per year. ECTS is used on all transcripts and diploma certificates issued after Sept. 1, 2001
• Implementation of reforms at nonuniversity institutions has been variable, according to a recent survey. All are using ECTS credits (the numerical part of ECTS). Many are using the ECTS format for describing the content of their programs (qualitative). Only a few have fully integrated the individual forms for application, agreement and transcripts in the mobility procedure (dynamic).
• A similar survey is planned for the university sector this fall (2003).
• The ECTS marking scale is not used, although several institutions provide equivalencies in their program descriptions:
Danish Grading Scale
Good performance, a little above average
• Internationalization has a high priority at Danish higher education institutions, and most higher education institutions have entered into exchange agreements with one or more foreign institutions, particularly in other Nordic countries, the European Union and the United States.
• Denmark is a member of the SOCRATES/ERASMUS and Leonardo exchange programs, as well as the regional Nordplus program.
• The Danish Center for Assessment of Foreign Credentials (CVUU) is an administrative unit under the Danish Ministry of Education. Its purpose is to make it easier for people with foreign credentials to enter the Danish labor market and higher education institutions. The center carries out consultative scope and level assessments of non-Danish education programs, advises on assessment procedures and provides information on other nations’ education systems, as well as informs foreigners of the Danish education system.
• An agency for the support of international education exchange programs, CIRIUS, was established in 2000 for the dissemination of information about exchange programs and Danish education.
• International organizations provide services to exchange students and other foreign students.
• A growing number of programs and courses are offered in English. A database of programs is available on the CIRIUS Web site.
• Higher education institutions receive special funding in proportion to the number of incoming and outgoing international exchange students.
• The structural reforms of the Danish educational system passed this year are designed to allow greater student mobility between Danish universities and to/from foreign universities, especially within the three-year bachelor program.
5. Quality Assurance
• In 1992, the Center for Quality Assurance and Evaluation of Higher Education was established under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. The center initially was established for a five-year trial period, which was extended until the end of 1999. It was then decided that systematic evaluations were to be carried out for all levels of education. In 1999, the tasks of the center were taken over by the Danish Evaluation Institute.
• The Evaluation Institute systematically examines individual programs and the relations between programs. The institute also develops evaluation techniques and methods and combines national and international experience with educational evaluation and quality development.
• As part of the evaluation process, each institution must prepare a self-evaluation report. The report should not only assess a program’s strengths and weaknesses but also propose initiatives that may ensure the quality of the program.
• Universities have the option to choose the Evaluation Institute or a foreign evaluation agency to conduct evaluations.
• The Danish Evaluation Institute is a founding member of the European Network of Quality Assurance (ENQA).
6. Promotion of European Dimensions in Higher Education
• Universities in the Copenhagen metropolitan area and southern Sweden (Scania) cooperate in education and research in a transnational university consortium, Øresund University.
• Danish higher education institutions take part in the development and establishment of a number of European joint programs and joint degrees. For example, a Swedish-Danish education program in horticulture has been established, Germany and Denmark have been cooperating in business economics and business programs for 10 years and English-Danish programs in marketing and finance also have been established.
• Danish universities are participating in three projects relating to the Joint European Master programs.
— Nick Clark
• Survey on Master Degrees and Joint Degrees in Europe, Christian Tauch and Andrejs Rauhvargers, September 2002
• The State of Implementation of ECTS in Europe, European University Association, October 2002
• Diploma Supplement – State of Implementation, European Commission, June 2003
• Lisbon Convention Status Reports, Council of Europe, Aug. 29, 2003
• The Information Network on Education in Europe – Eurydice, European Union
• Implementation of the Bologna Goals in Denmark, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, June 11, 2003
• ECTS Grading Scale Equivalency, Aarhus University
• ECTS Grading Scale Equivalency, University of Copenhagen