Photo: Kristian Ridder-Nielsen

Potentially serious consequences of intervention against international students

Friday 24 Aug 18
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Contact

Philip John Binning
Senior Vice President, Dean of Graduate Studies and International Affairs
Office for Study Programmes and Student Affairs
+45 21 73 83 09
The Danish Government’s proposal to limit access for international students to study at Danish universities is a potential threat to the competitiveness of Danish companies and the Danish welfare system, according to DTU.

Danish companies are already facing a serious shortage of highly educated manpower, and by the year 2025, this will include a shortfall of no less than 6,500 MSc Eng and BEng graduates. An intervention presented by the Danish Government last Thursday, which is designed to limit admissions of international students to Danish universities, is therefore a serious threat to Danish companies and their chances of doing well in the global markets.

According to the proposal, six out of the eight Danish universities will be required to reduce their intake of international students from 2019. This will not apply to DTU and the IT University because it has been documented that international students from these two universities are of great benefit for Denmark.

Nevertheless, the proposal may mean that the future intake of international students at DTU and at ITU will be frozen at 2018 levels. The Danish Government wants the total intake of international students to be reduced by 1,000-1,200 students for the sector as a whole. This means that a continued increase in the international intake at DTU and ITU will have to be counterbalanced by a similar decrease at the other universities.

Many of DTU’s international graduates stay in Denmark, get a job, pay their taxes, and are extremely valuable employees for Danish companies. In the course of their studies and the first eight years after graduation, the average international graduate from DTU contributes DKK 1.2 million towards the Danish economy. During those periods, they contribute taxes and duties alone in excess of DKK 800,000.

"Instead of restricting the intake of international students at Danish universities, efforts should be going into ensuring that international graduates remain in Denmark. "
Dean Philip John Binning

At the moment, DTU is admitting all Danish applicants who can and want to do one of our Master’s degrees in engineering, and in the past ten years we have doubled our aggregate intake. During the same period, our intake of international students has more than tripled, so that in 2017, we enrolled 812 students with a foreign background.

If DTU were able to double the intake of international students over the past ten years, we would be looking at an intake of 1,600 international students by 2028. After completing their studies, most of them would have stayed in Denmark and been able to help meet the huge demand for highly qualified manpower for Danish companies. However, due to the planned intervention, we now risk having to do without half of them.

Today, 76,000 young Danes are ready to embark on a study programme each year. In 2035, this number will be down to 64,000. Seeing as Danish companies are already desperate for more highly educated manpower—and especially engineers—what sort of a situation will we be looking at in a couple of decades?

Instead of restricting the intake of international students at Danish universities, efforts should be going into ensuring that international graduates remain in Denmark. One year after graduation, 60 per cent of international DTU graduates are still in Denmark, of whom 74 per cent have a job. Eight years later, 40 per cent remain in Denmark, of whom 85 per cent are in employment. So it is possible, provided that the competences of graduates are sought-after by companies.

From a socio-economic point of view, the proposed intervention is a threat to the competitiveness of Danish companies and the Danish welfare system. We hope the politicians will think twice.

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