Politicians agree on a framework for the master programme reform

The government has just made a political framework agreement on the master programme reform.


Photo: CBS
Today, the government has entered into a framework agreement on a master programme reform with the parties SF, Danmarksdemokraterne, Liberal Alliance and Konservative Folkeparti. The initial government proposals presented a comprehensive amendment of the programmes in March, which CBS and Universities Denmark have put a tremendous effort into changing. It is evident from the current agreement that the sector’s input have been heard, however, it will still be a challenging task for CBS to implement this reform, says Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, President of CBS and Deputy Chair of Universities Denmark.

”It is still a very big reform with a lot of unknown elements, which in itself may give rise to concern. That being said, the reform has become more manageable than the initial proposal, and we will do absolutely everything we can to make a success of this huge task, so CBS can continue to offer attractive, high-quality programmes, and the business community can keep hiring super talented graduates,” he says.

In brief, the reform entails that the universities put together must convert 30% of the 2-year master programmes to corporate part-time masters and 1.25-year masters and reduce bachelor enrolment by 8% in 2025. How and exactly how much CBS will have to convert is still unknown, but the government has earlier indicated that the humanities and the social sciences will have to convert a larger share of the master programmes. After the summer break, the parties behind the agreement must negotiate the details in a so-called negotiation supplement, and then the universities will have to get to work.

Especially the extent of the government’s initial wish to convert up to half of the master programmes has been subject to criticism from the universities, the business community, students and the opposition. The number of conversions has been significantly reduced in the final agreement, and Nikolaj Malchow-Møller appreciates that:

”CBS and the other universities have fought for a significantly smaller conversion than originally proposed. We have now landed at a level which is more realistic and responsible and with a gradual phasing in from 2028-2032. I am happy to see that our dialogue with the ministry and the parties behind the settlement has been fruitful,” says Nikolaj Malchow-Møller.

Positive elements in the reform
In addition to the conversion of the master programmes, the political agreement includes a focus on enhancing the framework for continuing education and an increase in the enrolment of international students.

”Bringing more international students to Denmark and making lifelong learning a part of the DNA of our education system are important and visionary elements of the reform. Hopefully, it can help pave the way for better interaction between education and job, which better matches a reality where we are on the job market longer and where more of us will have several different careers throughout life,” says Nikolaj Malchow-Møller.  

The essential parts of the reform are:

  • An overall dimensioning of 8% of all bachelor programmes in Denmark from 2025.
  • Conversion of 30% of the 2-year master programmes to 1.25 years (10%) and corporate part-time masters (20%)
  • Gradual phasing in of the conversion from 2028 to 2032
  • Better framework for continuing education, especially for the new graduates from the 1.25-year programmes
  • Increased enrolment of international students

It is too early to say how the reform will impact CBS’ financial position.

CBS is well-prepared
In January, CBS initiated the strategic initiative Strategic Programme Portfolio Review (SPPR), which reviews the entire programme portfolio with the aim to enhance the profile and strengthen programme quality. This preliminary work will make us considerably more prepared for the master programme reform. Anna Thomasson, Dean of Education, elaborates:

”We are already a bit ahead when it comes to including the reform in our programme portfolio because we are already deeply engaged in a careful analysis. This does not mean that we can already say which programmes we suggest converting and how, but we have already thought about the future organisation and principles for our programmes. That is a great foundation to build on,” says Anna Thomasson.

Originally, the final decision on CBS’ programme portfolio was to be made at the end of 2023, however, this must now be considered in conjunction with the master programme reform.

”We have not yet gained the full overview of the consequences of the reform. The review of the programmes is a top priority and will continue, and these two tracks will be considered collectively. The reform might imply that we change the schedule for the future portfolio work. Because of the great effort many people at CBS have put into the strategic review of the programmes we are prepared for the reform,” says Anna Thomasson.

Good news about the Rate 1 increase
The reform also clarifies the financial uncertainty that has been hanging over social sciences and the humanities for many years. The so-called Rate 1 increase, which is additional funding for the universities to enhance programme quality within the two areas, is now made permanent.

“That the reform will make the Rate 1 increase permanent is indeed good news and means that CBS will not have to worry every year about whether we will or will not receive DKK 60 million in education funding. This provides stability and better possibilities for ensuring programme quality in the long term. We have worked to make this increase permanent for a long time, so I would like to thank the minister and the signatory parties to this agreement,” says Nikolaj Malchow-Møller.

Next steps
Even though the political framework has been negotiated, the parties will still have to consider a few details in a so-called negotiation supplement after the summer break. 

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science will also set up a master programme committee where CBS and the other universities will be invited to join. Specific proposals for the new master programme landscape will be developed and coordinated here.

In 2028, the first master students will be enrolled in the new system.

The page was last edited by: Sekretariat for Ledelse og Kommunikation // 01/25/2024