Dear Member of the National Parliament of Denmark,
the Union of Students in Switzerland VSS-UNES-USU hereby expresses its deepest concern with the proposal of reforming the grant system for Danish students, Statens Uddannelsesstøtte (SU).
SU was and should stay an important factor offering free and fair access to higher education for all current and future students regardless of their socio-economic background. We believe that SU is not only vastly important considering the accessibility of higher education, but also ensures the opportunity to complete it without financial barriers.
This reform of the SU-system proposes not only the cut of the 6th year of student support but also the obligation of sticking to a harsh schedule of the numbers of ECTS to be reached within a closely defined timeframe. It furthermore lowers the amount of minimal support granted in absolute numbers and fails to take inflation into considersation. The reforms will make it harder to apply for higher education and seriously endangeres the possibilities to finish it – especially for students with a lower socio-economic background. The shortsighted project is not considering the social dimension at all, and acts unjustly by harming especially students with limited financial possibilities.
VSS-UNES-USU is seriously worried by the plans of the Danish government, since the effects of a deficient grant system are abundantly clear in Switzerland. The low amount of state support granted leads to the situation that students in Switzerland are not only highly dependent of the support of their parents but also 75% of them are working1 to finance their studies. 47% of the students at universities2 have at least one parent, who has an academic degree him- or herself. Considering that the percentage of population, which finished university studies doesn’t even reach 25%3 this number may make the difficulties to enter higher education for students with a non-academic background more than visible.
Therefore VSS-UNES-USU is fighting for the improvement of the Swiss grant system with all our possibilities and resources. We are currently campaigning for our own popular initiative, which is aiming at a change of the Swiss constitution to increase the amount of support granted and the percentage of students receiving it. The equal access to higher education is our first priority.
Knowing the effects of insufficiant student support, we stand in solidarity with Danske Studerendes Fællesråd (DSF) and call on the Danish members of parliament and the spokespersons for education to take a stance against the reform proposal of Statens Uddannelsesstøtte. Short term measures of austerity are not worth endangering the equal access to higher education.