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New agreement promotes talent in higher education

January 21, 2014
Denmark must have a culture of talent where students of all levels have the best opportunity to realise their potential.

The Danish Government, together with the Venstre and Det Konservativ Folkeparti parties have agreed to send a bill for consultation, which would provide universities with a better framework for improving talent initiatives.

The agreement covers the university area but Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education Morten Østergaard is expanding the proposals to apply to all higher education programmes.

The proposals will help ensure all students are challenged in such a way that inspires them, improves their abilities and motivates them to fully develop their particular talents and ambitions. The initiatives will give institutions the opportunity to provide extra ECTS credits resulting from special talent courses for students who wish to make an extra effort, while also recognising the student’s effort with a distinction on their diploma.

Morten Østergaard is pleased with the agreement.

- Our education system should challenge the individual to reach their full potential. But in practice, we have an education system that puts a limit on how smart you can become. We are now moving away from this, and the four proposed initiatives will give more freedom to the work to nurture talent. Through these, we can achieve a culture of talent where every educational institution has increased opportunities to challenge and recognise students who wish to cultivate a special talent. This could be through participating in an intensive course, in addition to their regular education, says Morten Østergaard.

The agreement also contains better opportunities for bridge-building activities between youth education programmes and higher education. Similar to the international model, talented students in youth education should have the opportunity to study a subject from a higher education programme. They should also receive merit for their efforts, and if they already meet the necessary requirements, could later receive admittance to that particular, or related, programme.

- Whether you are talented at physics, music, a craft or have the potential to be an excellent pedagogue, then you should also have the opportunity in upper secondary or vocational education to cultivate your talent, for example by getting an early start on a higher education programme in your particular talent field. We know that some places already offer such opportunities to students and now we would like to ensure that we expand this effort, says Morten Østergaard.

In 2012, the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education carried out a broad dialogue process about talent with institutions, students, future employers and other stakeholders on the background of the ”Room for Talent” proposal presented in June 2012. This proposal presented 10 concrete initiatives to improve talent efforts. A number of the remaining initiatives in the talent proposal can be accomplished by institutions within the existing frameworks and can be promoted through the government’s other education policy initiatives.

 A stronger talent effort is part of the government’s innovation strategy launched in December 2012.

The four initiatives in the proposed bill include:

Distinction in diploma

Educational institutions would have the possibility to honour talented students, who are highly motivated and have displayed an extraordinary effort in their studies, by giving them a distinction in their diploma. These could be students who have undertaken a particularly intensive programme of study with extra ECTS credits. Institutions will set the detailed criteria for distinctions, based on the institution’s strategy and within an overall national framework. 

Recognising extracurricular activities in diploma

Educational institutions would have the possibility to recognise extra-curricular activities directly within the diploma, thereby providing supporting documentation for multi-skilled students who display an extra effort during their studies. This could, for example, be innovation and entrepreneurial activities, or foreign language activities for students not already studying a language and where an extra language notably strengthens the relevance and quality of their education.

Extra ECTS credits

Particularly talented and highly motivated students would have the opportunity to take on an extraordinary workload, resulting in extra ECTS credits. This could, for example, result from an institution’s particular talent track for students. The extra ECTS credits must be earned within the standard period allocated for the programme of study.

The extra credits could be in the form of extra subjects from the existing programme or could be a specialised course with an extra workload. More institutions could also offer a jointly developed talent course. It will be up to the institutions to find the best way of offering extra credits and the institutions themselves must prioritise the funding of activities within their existing funding framework.

Early start for youth education students

With the international model as an example, talented upper secondary and vocational students should have the option to take higher education subjects. They should also receive merit for their efforts, and if they already meet the necessary requirements, could later receive admittance to that particular or related programme.

The information campaign, recruitment, selection and practical application of the initiative should occur in collaboration between the youth and higher education institutions involved. The higher education institutions will receive a “taximeter” grant when a student, who has completed a subject as part of an early start scheme, is later admitted to a bachelor degree programme and receives merit for the subject already taken.

For further information please contact:

Head of division Søren Nedergaard, tel.+45 7231 8032, email: sne@fivu.dk
Head of press Ingeborg Nielsen, tel.+45 2211 0200, email:imen@fivu.dk

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