Denmark provides free college education, and it’s hurting the economy. While college tuition is always on the rise in the U.S., university students in Denmark get to attend for free and even get a monthly stipend.
Free college education may sound ideal to the American students who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, but it has several holes and is costing the country quite a bit. Denmark spends the most on education proportionally than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes 34 advanced countries, but they’re not getting the bang for their buck.
Many students are pursuing lower paying jobs since Denmark has one of the highest tax rates in the world at 56 percent for top earners, and they don’t feel like earning more just to have to pay even higher taxes. Other students are costing the country more just by staying in school longer.
The average American finishes their undergraduate degree in four years, but many Danes were staying in college for six years since they don’t have the pressure of paying for their education. This does allow for more flexibility for students who want to switch majors, but it is costing the welfare state even more.
Last year, the Danish government limited the free tuition and stipend to only five years and cut back on the stipend, which outraged many students.
“I hate it, and it’s unfair,” university student Laura Kargaard Andersen told the Daily Caller. “They shouldn’t deduct from university students.”
“I think it will take much more to save Denmark from the crisis.”
And she’s right. The cutbacks have not helped Denmark’s economy, and the government is looking for more solutions. The universities are doing their part by cutting programs and reducing admission to programs where unemployment is high.
“Several degrees with few students have been closed altogether,” said Andersen. “One cannot study Finnish at the University of Copenhagen anymore…This is a shame in my opinion since the University of Copenhagen, as Denmark’s largest, should be able to offer a wide range of subjects and degrees in order to create nuances and specialties in order to compete with other universities.”
The university is trying to cut programs to guide students to more needed and higher paying jobs like engineering, but some professors don’t believe that cutting programs in arts and humanities will help the economy at all, according to Business Insider.
“If there are some courses that don’t lead to jobs, students will eventually avoid them,” said Palle Rasmussen, a professor of education and learning research at Aalborg University.
And compared to other countries, Denmark really isn’t that badly off. The youth unemployment rate is only 14 percent, and is much lower than the EU average of 22.8 percent. But the Danish economy is gradually getting worse, and the government will be looking into other options to save money and help the economy grow.
“I think there will be both more changes and reductions in the future,” said Andersen. “It sucks.”