Students scorn science subjects
A report shows that Denmark will be lacking medical and science professionals in the future unless more secondary school students choose science subjects.
Decreasing numbers of students choosing science subjects in schools will result in fewer doctors, nurses and scientists in the future, according to an Education Ministry report.
The most popular subjects among secondary school students are social studies, while the sciences have experienced a declining interest among the nation’s teenagers with only 31 percent of those starting in secondary school this year choosing science subjects.
A secondary school reform plan was implemented three years ago where the goal was to strengthen the sciences.
Education Minister Bertel Haarder placed responsibility for the development on the lack of political support in parliament. However, Peter Kuhlman, chairman of the association for secondary school principals, thinks otherwise.
According to Kuhlman, the problem lay in students having to choose the direction of their secondary school curriculum during their time in primary schools. Kuhlman said it was possible students needed to wait until they started secondary school before choosing the direction of their studies.
The present procedure means that pupils in primary schools must decide to concentrate on languages or maths during the first year of secondary school, and they must follow that line for the duration of secondary schooling. (LYT)
More Fathers Taking Paternity Leave
Published 26.05.2008, 17.07 (updated 26.05.2008, 20.31)
New fathers in Finland are taking paternity leave more frequently. According to the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela), the number of men who stay home to care for their children has risen by one-quarter over the past ten years.
Six perecent of paid parental leave days are now taken by dads.
Last year, 51,200 fathers were granted parental leave support, an increase of 26 percent from 1998. During the same period, the number of mothers taking the support increased by just two percent.
Kela has tried to encourage fathers to use paternity leave by improving benefits and flexibility of leave. Parental support is paid to either the mother or father, depending on which parent stays home to care for the child.
More cash for minority college students
Tuesday 27 May 2008
Education minister Ronald Plasterk is to give five hbo colleges in the Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht a total of €4m to try to boost the results of students with an ethnic minority background.
The funding will rise to €17m a year by 2011. Statistics show that students with a Turkish, Moroccan or Surinamese background have a high drop-out rate.
Protesters rage against gasoline prices at the pump
First published: 23 May 2008, 15:54
A widespread, grass-roots protest has broken out in Norway against high prices for gasoline and diesel. Even though much of the pump price is the result of taxes, the oil companies are getting the blame.
Norwegians are now paying more than NOK 13 a litre (nearly USD 11 a gallon) for gasoline in many markets, and that’s likely to rise.
Market analyst Torbjørn Kjus at DnB Markets told newspaper Dagbladet that he expects oil prices, which hit USD 135 a barrel this week, to hit USD 200 a barrel. That would translate to nearly NOK 17 a litre for gasoline (USD 13.60 a gallon).
Motorists aren’t happy. More than 67,000 took part in an organized protest via the Internet this week, making threats that they’d boycott Norway’s two largest gasoline station chains, Statoil and Shell. They also signed petitions calling for lower prices, and the threatened boycott action was spreading quickly via e-mail.
Norway’s gasoline prices became the highest in Europe this week, somewhat ironic since Norway is an oil-producing nation. But government policies have always aimed to discourage use of private cars in Norway by heavily taxing the cars themselves and the gasoline they need to operate.
While gasoline prices have risen in line with rising oil prices – which mostly benefit Norway’s economy – the brunt of the per-litre price remains the taxes imposed by the state.
More international students choose Swedish universities
Published: 26 May 08 12:02 CET
The last academic year was the first time that the number of international students registered at Swedish universities and colleges topped the number of Swedes studying abroad.
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskolverket) sees the trend as a problem.
“International experience is part of the competence needed for the labour market into which students will enter. It is ever more global and [studying abroad] is an experience people will come to miss,” said University Chancellor Anders Flodström, who heads the agency.
The flood of students in and out of Sweden has increased steadily over the last several decades. But in recent years, fewer Swedes have applied to study abroad.
And after compiling statistics from the 2006-2007 academic year, the Agency for Higher Education found for the first time that were more international students studying in Sweden than there were Swedes studying abroad, nearly 28,000 compared to 25,600.
Compared to the previous academic year, the number of international students in Sweden increased by nine percent, while the number of Swedes studying in other countries dropped by two percent.
However, the number of Swedes studying abroad has remained relatively constant—at around 26,000—for the last ten years.
Meanwhile, the number of international students as a percentage of the overall higher education student body population in Sweden has more than doubled in the last ten years, from 3.1 percent to 7.3 percent.
In addition to students losing out on valuable contacts and experience in a more globalized economy, Flodström sees a number of other possible problems.
Compared with students from other countries, Swedes more often choose to complete their entire education abroad.
“I can imagine that this may lead to the labour market losing accomplished Swedes who decide to stay overseas when they begin their careers. It’s a sort of brain-drain,” he said.
During the 2006-2007 academic year, the vast majority of Swedish students—around 20,000—arranged their own study abroad experience. The remainder of around 6,000 studied abroad in some form of pre-existing exchange program, with nearly half participating in the European Erasmus program.