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Denmark - university colleges strengthen vocational education and training (VET) research

ReferNet Denmark

In 2012, the Danish government decided that Danish university colleges be granted access to conducting research and funded the sector with DKK 1 billion (EUR 133 million). In addition, university colleges were given the opportunity to employ high-profile researchers, introducing a new post for senior associated lecturer.

Since 2013, the Danish national centre for VET development (NCE) at the Metropolitan University College has received funding under this governmental decision to build a strong research environment, aimed at strengthening VET teacher training and becoming a centre of excellence for VET development. Moreover, NCE employed the experienced researcher Peter Koudahl as senior associated lecturer.

The special feature of research at university colleges is that it must be practice-related and meet the requirement of practice proximity, as formulated in the OECD Frascati manual. Research must be transferable and usable, so that results can easily be implemented and have a direct impact on diploma programmes at university colleges.

Peter Koudahl has been a VET researcher since 2004. He was previously employed at the Roskilde University Centre, the University of Aarhus, and Aalborg University. Since September 2014, Peter Koudahl has been working for NCE as senior associated lecturer. His main task is to build a VET research environment at NCE. Five new research projects have been established since:

  • talent programmes in VET;
  • information and communication technology in VET;
  • development of practice-based competences;
  • EUX – combined vocational and general upper secondary education;
  • disadvantaged youths and legal requirements to access education programmes.

Although VET research in Denmark is of good quality, it has been unsystematic and ad hoc. Danish VET lacked a VET knowledge centre with stable and continuous focus on research and development. With government funding, NCE is now creating a coherent knowledge centre consisting of experts in VET teacher training and several young promising researchers. NCE’s main objective in the next couple of years is to gain national and international recognition as an institution that produces high-quality VET research with impact on practitioners, researchers and policy-makers.

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