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The Danish Government focuses on top international students

Denmark is to attract more talented international students from abroad and to retain them following their education. That is one of the main objectives of the government’s new action plan to promote Denmark to international talents as an attractive study destination.

Apr 09, 2014

The most talented students from around the world should know Denmark as an attractive study destination. For it is these skilled students that can provide value for Danish companies, and Danish society.  

The Danish Government is therefore launching an ambitious action plan to attract and retain talented international students and create growth and employment in Danish businesses.

Minister for Higher Education and Science, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, states that Denmark has a strong need for international talents to secure the country’s future.  

- International talents will contribute much to both Danish business and society. We are therefore focused on recruiting the most talented students from Europe and from the rest of the world. They will raise the top levels of Danish education, and help create growth in Danish companies. If we are to succeed against tougher international competition, we must be open to the wider world and have a global outlook. And that is why we have launched our ambitious action plan, says Sofie Carsten Nielsen.

The action plan contains 24 concrete initiatives and five strategic measures:

  •  All components of study programmes and the study environments at institutions of higher education must have a significant international dimension. Denmark must attract more talented fee-paying students
  •  The drop-out rate among international students must be brought into line with that of Danish students.
  • More international students should remain in Denmark on completion of their studies
  •  International graduates who remain in Denmark must have the same employment ratio as Danish graduates.

A sample calculation compiled by the DREAM group for the Ministry of Higher Education and Science shows that it is beneficial for Denmark to attract and retain international students completing full Master’s programmes, even if some of them are receiving SU, because of those who remain and work in Denmark following graduation. The DREAM analysis from 2014 also shows that retention of international graduates within the Danish labour market has a greater socio-economic effect than the numbers of international students receiving SU.

New scholarship programme for talented students and a start-up permit

e government is also launching a scholarship programme as part of the action plan. It aims to attract international talent from non-EU countries to chosen education programmes at Master’s level in fields where there is an identified need for high-skilled employees and where Denmark has international positions of strength.  

The government is proposing a number of concrete initiatives to make the international graduates’ transition to the Danish labour market easier. International graduates from countries outside the EU/EEA, who have completed a Master’s or PhD programme in Denmark, should have the opportunity to apply for a start-up permit – giving them the right to seek employment and work in Denmark for two years. A start-up permit will also – unlike the current Greencard scheme – allow the graduate the opportunity to start their own company

The action plan Denmark – an attractive study destination - How to attract and retain talent from abroad is part of the government’s effort to increase the internationalisation of higher education. The action plan is the second and remaining part of a larger action plan for internationalisation.  

The first part Enhanced insight through global outlook  focuses on strengthening the international outlook of Danish students and was launched in June 2013.

This second part of the action plan is also part of the government’s upcoming reform for international recruitment.

Overview: International students on a full education programme in Denmark in 2012

  •  In 2012, 22,260 international students were undertaking a full education programme in Denmark, which is an increase of 10.9 per cent compared to 2011.
  • International students therefore accounted for 9 per cent of the total amount of students in higher education in Denmark in 2012.

For further information please contact:

Special adviser Thomas Hundsbæk. tel. 2086 0828, email

Head of division Lars Beer Nielsen, tel. 4186 5900, email

Press officer Carina Elkott, tel. 5090 0549, email

last modified Apr 15, 2014