“Ahead of launching the action plan and the recruitment reform, we have had an intense dialogue with both Danish businesses and the Danish research and higher education institutions,” Minister for Higher Education and Science, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, told The PIE News.
“The aim of our talks have been to put together a plan that will make Denmark an even more attractive study and work destination for the best talents around the world.”
A highly educated foreign national accounts for just under two extra jobs in the Danish economy
In a survey, the Confederation of Danish Industry claimed that a highly educated foreign national accounts for just under two extra jobs in the Danish economy. However, skills gaps have been identified in the engineering, health and natural science sectors and about half of graduates leave within three years of completion.
“We are losing thousands of skilled young people who have spent a number of years in Denmark, and who could be contributing to Danish society,” states the plan. “We can and must do better here.”
The policy targets non-European students who are subject to tuition fees in order to inject income into the higher education system and to appeal to higher calibre students. “If you attract students who need to pay then you compete with other countries who charge,” said the ministry’s Head of division Lars Beer Nielsen. “We’re levelling the playing field.”
Still, the government is keen on increasing access for students by collaborating with industry stakeholders. Already the government has proposed allocating 25 million DKK (US$4.6m) for 65-70 scholarships but is looking to include private sector foundations and businesses to boost funding.
“I want to engage in discussions with businesses and industry foundations both in order to explore possibilities of scaling the programme with industry co-funding as well as targeting the programme to areas where demand for specialists are highest,” said the minister.
There are plans to permit institutions flexibility when it comes to fees in order to allow for more “scope”
The government will also expand the Top Talent programme, which has successfully marketed Danish study and career pathways to Chinese and Brazilian students, to include India.
And there are plans to permit institutions flexibility when it comes to fees in order to allow for more “scope” and “strategic pricing”. In practical terms, lower prices for courses that see less interest would be off-set by higher priced courses that are in greater demand among non-EU students.
To make it easier for students to enter and stay in the country, the government plans to digitise the study permit application process and will facilitate the process for non-EU students studying at private providers to obtain resident permits.
And international graduates from countries outside the EU, who have completed a Master’s or PhD programme in Denmark, will have the opportunity to apply for a start-up permit giving them the right to work in Denmark for two years and also start their own company.
In 2012, 22,260 international students were undertaking a full education programme in Denmark, representing a 10.9% increase on 2011 and accounting for 9% of the all higher education students.
“Businesses and research in Denmark are to be among the best in the world,” said Carsten Nielsen.
“This will only come about if we are able to attract and educate the most talented people from all over the world and if we are able to retain them and they can find work in Denmark.”