November 27, 2010

Move Danish Universities Abroad (following Danish corporations)

After the American Century

This is a thought experiment, making logical deductions from recent actions of the Danish government. If there seems to be anything objectionable (or worthwhile) in this proposal, think about what that government has been doing.

In a globalized world, there is no reason why Danish universities should remain in Denmark, if they can educate their students just as well at a lower price in another place. Just as Danish slaughter houses are moving to Germany and Eastern Europe, just as Danish companies seeking assembly line workers move that part of their activity to Asia, so, too Danish universities should consider the option of moving off-shore.

The advantages of this proposal are obvious.
1. Student SU (grants in aid) will buy more goods and services abroad.
2. Books, clothing, food, and computers will be cheaper, as the faculty and students will not need to pay the 25% Danish VAT.
3. University services can be outsourced more cheaply in other labor markets. There is no reason to pay high Danish wages to cleaners, cooks, and maintenance people, who would be much less costly to hire elsewhere.
4. Careful site selection would place the new Danish universities in mild climates, saving on the cost of heating.
5. Recruitment of non-Danish faculty would not be hindered by the complex and ever more stringent regulations for work permits.
6. In a digitized world, the library resources would be on-line, with no need to build up a physical collection of books and journals.
7. Travel to the new universities need not cost any more than the Danish railways charge to commute from Odense or Aarhus to Copenhagen. Indeed, with the proliferation of budget airlines, it may be cheaper to get to the new universities than to the old ones.
8. Housing will also be less expensive, and at the same time thousands of apartments will be made available in Denmark, solving the housing problems of its cities.
9. Foreign language acquisition will be faster and better, as students will be learning a local language through immersion in another culture, as well as in class.
10. Since Danish business is moving abroad, the Danish students trained overseas will be right where they are needed, and available to work at the lower salaries in the wage markets of those nations.

Since the funds available for university teaching and reseach have declined in real terms for years, this proposal is a rational response to the Danish government's cost-cutting.

Initially the BA programs could be sited off-shore, with the more specialized MA and Ph.D. courses remaining in Denmark for a few years of transition. Logically, the programs in Danish history and Danish language and literature might be left behind to thrive in their native environments, but the natural sciences, much of the humanities, and most of the social sciences would benefit from going off-shore. Indeed, there would be useful synergies with local universities in the host nations that could not be achieved through exchange programs.

By 2030 it should be possible to move most of Danish university education to such places as Ireland, Poland, Southern Spain, Turkey, and Thailand. Those who earlier immigrated into Denmark from these countries would become valuable as translators and bridge builders between the Danes and the host countries.

Once business and the universities have moved abroad, it will be time to think about what else to locate overseas. Quite possibly some hospitals and primary schools also could be moved to the new Danish foreign enclaves.  The eventual result would be to empty Denmark of most university students and many workers, while the number of pensioners abroad would certainly increase as well. They would leave behind a smaller population to operate Denmark as a center for high-tech industries and as a theme park for tourists.

Denmark would thereby become the most completely globalized of all nations. There is no time to delay, as other nations that Denmark likes to compare itself to may be the first movers. The best locations and the biggest savings will go to those who seize the opportunity now.