Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Flexibilisation and Employability

Speed and Employability in Danish Higher Education

About the project


 The project explores how - and to what extent - the increased emphasis on speed, e.g. the current Danish study progress reform (2014), may influence student preferences and priorities. The study progress reform, which is also known as ‘speed up’ reform, cuts the time available for university students to complete their studies. E.g. students are now obliged to sign up for exams for at least 60 ECTS a year, and delays for more than 30 ECTS will be punished by withdrawal of their state grants until the students regain the missing ECTS. In this manner the study progress reform seems to introduce a new notion of study progression, in which speed is promoted as prior to deep learning as well as students’ freedom to compose a degree out of modules from different (international) institutions and study programs. The reform may therefore also be perceived as a bias for increased student mobility and other objectives of the European Bologna process (1999 and on). As the reform is just being implemented there is, however still, a lack of knowledge about the students’ actual responses to the reform, taking other trends and structural changes into account.  

Method and sites of study

Methodologically the project departs from a mixed constructivist approach to policy that aims at investigating tree different empirical levels:

  • Fieldwork and focus group interviews at two selected HE study programs in Demark – one in the field of humanities, the other in the natural sciences (2013-2016)
  • A national survey among a broader range of university students (approximately 10.000), covering all higher education institutions and disciplines in Denmark (2014-15)
  • A review of (comparable) international experiences and research (2015-16)

Funding and affiliation

The project is affiliated to Department of Education (DPU) at Aarhus University in Denmark, and funded by the Research Council for the Humanities. The project is part of the research program Education, Policy and Organization in the knowledge Economy, EPOKE.


The explorations are carried out in continuous dialogue with a discussion board that includes delegates from the major academic unions, The Confederation of Danish Industry, students and academics.  



International Angles and Collaboration

Employability has become a key element of the European Bologna Process. The practical interpretation of the concept has, however, not been the same in the on-going reforms among the 47 member countries. To explore possible international parallels to the Danish development, the project includes an international review of international research literature on HE reforms, different discourses of employability, and patterns in student’s choices and priorities. The review will be carried out in affiliation to Roehampton University in London at Centre of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The review also includes a series interviews with the affiliated academics on the situation at the British universities and the (neo liberal) employability discourse that was introduced in England (1974-97) years before the Bologna Process (1999).


Laura Louise Sarauw

Mail: lls@edu.au.dk

Phone: +45 28959267

Danish School of Education
Aarhus University
Tuborgvej 164, D275
2400 Copenhagen