What is the future of Nordic education?
From kindergarten to higher education, Nordic educational systems have been hailed as among the best (if not the best) in the world. We have all heard about Finland, a country that reformed its educational system in the 70's to great success. Similarly, the rest of Scandinavia is known to offer a high quality of education that is free for everyone. But with increased budget cuts across the Nordics, there seems to be a first ripple in this otherwise perfect system.
Discussions surrounding budget cuts is an all too common theme throughout Scandinavian countries these days. Things are looking especially bleak for Denmark and Finland. In Denmark, for example, education funding will be reduced by 8.7B DKK (US$ 1.3B) over the next four years. In Finland the overall budget cuts on higher education is evaluated to be around €500 million (US$556 million).
The immediate effects of these budget cuts are already being experienced. Copenhagen University (the highest ranked university in Denmark) has had to close many of it programs and make cuts to faculty and staff, the Department of Humanities closing 10 programs alone and still looking at the possibilities of more cutbacks this year.
While social sciences are usually the first to experiences the cutbacks, the amount of cutbacks that politicians are currently talking about will affect all areas of education. Scandinavian countries have been (and still are) very generous in their educational system with offering free higher education and supporting their students throughout their studies.
It’s easy to layout the facts and numbers about budget cuts to education, but what does it mean when these budget cuts manifest? For students this means less time with teachers and professors, loss of entire programs and a reduction of options for electives. While students are dealing with a limited education, teachers and staff are left worrying about their job security. Teachers themselves must also work within limited roles, cutting their office hours and managing to offer the same level of education to their students for less money and less time.
A bright future after all?
But while the future may sound bleak, we should perhaps see it as a possibility to rethink and innovate education. Much of teaching and learning has already moved online and there are a number of great EdTech companies and innovators striving to impact education. MOOCs are making learning accessible in every corner of the world and partnerships with major institutions allow people a top notch education at more reasonable prices.
What are your thoughts regarding the current situation in Nordic education and budget cuts? Do you think the future looks bleak or is there hope for a bright future? We would love to hear from both students and teachers about how you view the current and future state of education. Leave a comment here or tweet at us here.