News

We need to retain foreign students - not keep them away


The government's plans to reduce the inflow of foreign students by 1,000-1,200 spaces spread evenly across Denmark’s educational institutions seems like a lamentable bureaucratic decision.

Sara Grex, chairman of the Committee for Education and Research at IDA doesn’t understand the government’s decision to limit access for foreign students. Instead, she would rather have seen a political action plan for how Denmark could retain more of its foreign students.

“Foreign students play a key role in efforts to tackle the lack of knowledge workers. The most recent estimates from the technological alliance “Engineer the future” show that we will be short 10,000 engineers and natural sciences graduates by 2025. If it weren’t for the many foreign students attending natural sciences and technological higher education programmes, many of whom luckily choose to remain in Denmark after graduation, the estimates would look much worse,” says Sara Grex.

The estimates from the Danish Society of Engineers, IDA, show that Denmark will actually be short of up to 15,000 engineers and natural sciences graduates in 2025, and Sara Grex can therefore not understand why spaces for foreign students at technical and natural sciences programmes are being cut back.

“Creating barriers and obstacles for foreign students seems counterproductive. Instead, we need to become much more internationally oriented and embrace people from other countries who, for example, take their Master’s degrees in Denmark, and get as many of them as possible to stay in the country once they’ve graduated.

As an added bonus, foreign graduates are good business for Denmark. Damvad Analytics have documented that the socio-economic contribution of each international graduate from technical and natural sciences programmes on average amounts to almost DKK 1 million in the time from when they start their studies to 8 years after they’ve graduated - even though not all of them remain in Denmark.

If more of them stayed, this figure would be even higher. It’s therefore necessary to move focus from how we keep international students away to how we get them to stay after they graduate - that’s good business.
Furthermore, Damvad Analytics have documented that the socio-economic contribution of each international graduate from the technical and natural sciences programmes on average amounts to almost DKK 1 million in the time from when they start their studies to 8 years after they’ve graduated - even though not all of them remain in Denmark.

If more of them stayed, this figure would be even higher. It’s therefore necessary to move both the political and economic focus from how to keep international students away to how we can get them to stay after they graduate - that’s good business,” says Sara Grex.