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Denmark: English-taught program reduction causes disruption

International students in Denmark are saying that a plan to reduce the number of English language courses in the country will cause disruption to their degrees. 

International students have in Denmark have spoken out against the plans. Photo: Dāvis Vītoliņš

Over 4000 people have signed a petition calling for a delay to the government plans

Earlier this year the Danish government announced it will reduce the number of higher education programs offered in English in an attempt to control rising financial aid expenditure (SU) for EU students. 

“When I came to Denmark my intention was to come here and get the full bachelor’s degree and become a young professional”

They said that more and more students from EU and EEA countries are using the opportunity to obtain Danish SU, which has resulted in an expected rise of spending to DKK 570 million in 2025 – far above target levels. 

However, international students who are taking English taught top ups and AP degrees in University Colleges and Business Academies in Denmark have said the new rules could prevent them from graduating with full bachelors degrees.

Over 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for a delay to the government plans. 

“I came to Denmark a year ago last September to start my studies in UCL in Odense,” said Dāvis Vītoliņš, a Latvian student who started the petition. 

UCL is a university college in Denmark and in university colleges in order to get bachelor’s degree students have to go through two separate educations. One is an AP degree (academic or professional) that lasts for two years and then you do a top up degree on top of the AP degree. 

Vītoliņš explained that students can choose a different path with whatever top up degree they decide on, and then after one and a half years, they graduate with a full bachelor’s. 

“When I came to Denmark my intention was to come here and get the full bachelor’s degree and become a young professional and contribute to the Danish market afterwards. 

“After the first year… a week before the holidays started, the Danish government released an announcement saying that starting in the year 2022 they are cancelling English study programs at university colleges and business academies, meaning that when I graduate from my AP degree next summer I will not be able to enrol in a top up degree program in order to get my bachelor’s degree and become a qualified professional,” he said. 

Vītoliņš told The PIE News that in order to for him to sign up to a Danish language alternative top up course, he would need to learn Danish to a level that was adequate for higher education, something he believes would be difficult given the short amount of time (one year) until he takes his top up course. 

“The options for me, ever since I learned about this arrangement from the government, I could learn Danish and try to make it in time to get my Danish up to C-1 level and enrol in Danish top ups,” he said.  

“Another option would be for me to graduate and go straight to the labour market with an unfinished bachelor’s degree. Another option would be to start my studies from scratch in a university or to find someplace else in a different country where my AP degree is accepted and where I can build on top of it to get the bachelor’s degree.” 

The PIE contacted the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication. 

The Danish government has previously said that the reduction is targeted at the English language business academy and professional bachelor programs as seven out of ten (72%) of the students are English-speaking students, and only one in five (21%) of these find work in Denmark after completing their education.

“However, the parties want to take into account the business academy and professional bachelor programs that succeed in educating English-speaking students for employment in Denmark, as well as programs that, for example, have a unique character or significance for the regional labor market. 

“The parties to the agreement therefore agree to exempt approx. 650 education places from the reduction of English language education,” the government said in a statement. 

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