Photo: Mikal Schlosser

DTU Summit: International students and a new ‘research gang’

Monday 08 Oct 18

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Anders Overgaard Bjarklev
President
+45 45 25 10 00
DTU’s Education and Research Policy Summit 2018 focused on international students and the need for a new research strategy.

The Danish government’s plans to cap the intake of international students at Danish universities will reduce the number of engineer and IT graduates by 800 in 2025. This corresponds to a loss in the economy of almost one billion Danish kroner a year.

This is one of the conclusions of an analysis entitled ‘An expensive cap’ (in Danish) which the market research company Damvad has conducted for DTU and which was presented at DTU’s Education and Research Policy Summit on 3 October. Here, seven education and research policy spokespersons from seven Danish political parties had a lively debate with a number of speakers—and each other.

In the analysis of international students, supply and demand for engineers and the consequences of a cap on the admission of international students are mapped. The analysis was discussed at the Summit under the heading ‘Talented entrepreneurial students for the Danish business sector’.

“Instead of alleviating the shortage of engineers, it is significantly deteriorated and with a major negative financial impact on Denmark. In other words: It’s a very expensive cap. Is this really the way we want to go?,” said DTU President Anders Bjarklev in his opening speech.

André Rogaczewski, CEO of the IT company Netcompany, was among the speakers who on the industry’s behalf called for more political understanding of the complexity involved in attracting qualified employees for the business sector.

“We hire hundreds of new graduates—and if we are lucky also internationals trained here in Denmark. Compared to the more experienced people we can attract from abroad, the young are more likely to stay here for longer periods, because they have not yet started a family in their home country.”

After the break, research policy was the main focus, where Deputy CEO of Novo Nordisk Fonden, Niels Peder Nielsen, called for both a more fact-based approach to research politics and an in-depth discussion on the future of research in Denmark.

“The greatest danger is that the good intentions end up in the ‘priority pile’ of national fiscal policy. I hope the politicians will help rethink Denmark’s research strategy with respect for the international angle. We do not believe that two-per cent savings are the solution, and we believe it should be questioned whether or not one per cent of GDP for research is sufficient,” said Niels Peder Nielsen.

The challenge was received positively by the political spokespersons. The moderator, journalist Niels Krause-Kjær, asked the panel why they didn’t take matters into their own hands like the defunct ‘traffic mafia’, which for many years single-handed controlled all traffic investments with an iron fist. Several politicians backed the idea of starting a ‘research gang’. Henrik Dahl from the party The Liberal Alliance quickly refined it into ‘Loyal to Science’.

Tommy Ahlers, Minister of Higher Education and Science, said in the final presentation of the Summit that he would join such a gang. He supported the idea of an innovative approach to research policy:

“The political vision of research and education area is to create winners—to make Denmark and the Danes smarter. This requires hunger, courage, and curiosity,” he said, and called for a national compromise which would look at research and education from a long-term perspective.

“Where are we headed and what do we want with our research?” the Minister asked.

DTU President Anders Bjarklev concluded the day by thanking the densely packed audience for an interesting debate.

The Summit’s panel of spokespersons consisted of Henrik Dahl (Liberal Allicance), Sofie Carsten Nielsen (The Danish Social Liberal Party), Jens Henrik Thulesen Dahl (The Danish People’s Party), Rosa Lund (The Red-Green Alliance), Mette Reissmann (The Social Democrats), Marcus Knuth (The Liberal Party of Denmark).

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