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Retaining more international students in Denmark


Almost twice as many international students have chosen to study in Denmark.


Almost twice as many international students have chosen to complete a full programme of education in Denmark compared to 2008. The minister for higher education and science is working towards a strategy for retaining even more international students in Denmark.

Danish higher education programmes continue to attract even more international students.

From 2008 to 2014 the number of international students in Denmark almost doubled and by 2014, they comprised almost 10 per cent of all higher education students, according to a report from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

– It is positive to see so many foreign students in Denmark but when we use resources to educate them, we should also do more to retain them in the Danish labour market afterwards. This is not a challenge that can be solely solved through political measures – we must collaborate with businesses to help even more graduates find work in Denmark. We know that many international students want to stay here and we should utilise them, says Esben Lunde Larsen.

Academies of professional higher education and Master’s programmes have been a particular draw for international students since 2013.

– I am therefore setting the wheels in motion for a strategy on how to retain more international graduates in Denmark. We need to focus on all regions of Denmark, not just the larger cities, so that businesses across the country can find the necessary employees, says Esben Lunde Larsen.

Pilot projects for retaining graduates

The minister has already allocated DKK 3 million in 2015 for academies of professional higher education and university colleges, together with Danish regions and businesses, to carry out a number of pilot projects aimed at attracting and retaining international graduates from Danish programmes to work in Danish regions or municipalities where there is a lack of qualified employees.

Working conditions key for international students

A new study also shows that Danish labour market conditions play a key role in whether international students choose to remain in the country after their education, while concrete job offers from abroad can convince them to leave Denmark.

The salary level, the work/life balance, and good opportunities for professional development and challenges are attractive factors for graduates choosing to stay in Denmark. The minister for higher education and science will therefore include businesses and educational institutions in the process for developing a strategy to retain and encourage more graduates to work in Denmark.

The study shows that graduates from technical or health science programmes in particular are inclined to stay in Denmark.

About the report

The ‘International students in Denmark’ study is compiled by the Danish Agency for Higher Education, and the part of the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment that now falls under the auspices of the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.  The study follows another from 2013 – ‘International students’ career plans’.

Source: Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science (ufm.dk)


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