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Denmark: sector calls for outbound strategy

Denmark should develop an outbound mobility strategy to ensure that Danish students do not lag behind their European counterparts in access to education overseas, stakeholders and politicians have said.

EDU founder Palle Steen Jensen and Mette Reissmann, then Social Democrat speaker on Higher Education, welcome delegates. Photo: EDUEDU founder Palle Steen Jensen and Mette Reissmann, then Social Democrat speaker on Higher Education, welcome delegates. Photo: EDU

Sweden has a goal to see 25% of students spend at least three months of their education abroad by 2025

Leading education consultancy in the country – EDU Danmark – organised an event at the Danish parliament earlier this year with an aim of alerting leaders of the value of international education.

“A lot of countries in Northern Europe have now a strategy for increasing outbound mobility and have also set certain mobility goals,” explained EDU general manager and founder Palle Steen Jensen.

“Local institutions of higher education might not always have outbound mobility on their agenda”

“There is an EU goal in connection to the Bologna Process which sets that by 2020, 20% of all students should get the international experience and Denmark is below that threshold; many countries are.

“But most countries have now a strategy in place. Denmark does not.”

Neighbouring countries to the north of Denmark – Sweden and Norway – are in the process of introducing or renewing outbound mobility strategies, Jensen noted.

Iselin Nybø, Norway’s minister for research and higher education, has expressed an ambition to integrate exchange as an opt-out only segment of higher education in the country.

Sweden’s 2018 internationalisation strategy included a goal to see 25% of students spending at least three months of their education abroad by 2025.

“Student mobility in our part of the world is to a large degree defined by the kind of public support, government support and government funding that is available,” Jensen told The PIE News.

“Local institutions of higher education might not always have outbound mobility on their agenda,” he continued, adding that EDU’s event invited members of major political parties, the business community and students to contribute to discussions around outbound mobility.

“Our goal would be to influence policymakers to have a strategy that’s at least at the level of our surrounding countries.

“International cooperation is completely crucial.”

At the event in January, speakers included stakeholders from an international company headquartered in Denmark talking about the value of employees with an international background. Additionally, members of student organisation Danish Students Abroad gave personal student perspectives.

Spokespeople from six major Danish political parties also attended to give their view on international education.

“We had at least a few of them who mentioned that Denmark is lacking a strategy on outbound mobility and also lacking mobility goals,” Jensen said.

With 20 years in the sector and one of the first agencies to become AIRC-certified, EDU has close to 50 university partners around the world and the majority are in non-EU locations. It also runs the IELTS testing centre in Denmark.

A previous Danish government set a goal of sending 50% of students overseas, but the target did not materialise into a strategy, according to Jensen.

A general election in June has been another stumbling block and the sector is waiting to hear the new parliament’s plans and whether an outward mobility strategy will be included in next year’s public budget.

“We have one of the parties that were at our conference who just recently committed to an agenda that there should be a mobility strategy in Denmark. So we are waiting to see,” said Jensen.

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