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International students lack friends

A new study shows that when international students end up in Denmark, it is often difficult to make Danish friends. The higher education minister therefore recommends that Danish students make more effort to involve their international counterparts.

Dec 15, 2011

Interaction with the Danish housing market and study environment is a serious challenge for international students. Often because it is difficult to make friends among Danish students, according to a new study by UngdommensAnalyseEnhed (the Youth Analysis Unit) for Danske elever og Studerendes Kollegieråd (Danish students and the Students Accommodation Council) and the Higher Education Ministry.

Social integration between Danish and international students influences the international students' overall evaluation of their study experience. If the social aspect isn't up to scratch, then it can present a barrier to transferring to the Danish labour market after education.

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard welcomes the study.

– The intake of international students and more cross-border education cooperation is a key puzzle piece to Denmark's future. I am very happy that the international students are being heard. The results show clearly that we in Denmark must ensure that we are more open to international students, says the minister.

Morten Østergaard talking to international students
Education Minister Morten Østergaard met international students in Denmark during Study in Denmark's Christmas event with international students at the dormitory 'Regensen' in Copenhagen 15 December 2011. The Minister is satisfied that Danish educations attracts skillfull students from all over the world. The event also marked the release of the survey about international student's meeting with Danish housing market and study environment.

More than a third of international students surveyed have lived with Danish students during their time here, while almost two thirds have had Danish students as neighbours. According to international students, the residential environment is an important part of getting to know Danish students.

Despite many international students living with or near Danish students, more than a third say that it is difficult to make friends with Danes. The most cited reason is that Danish students show a lack of interest in getting to know them and don't involve them socially. However, international students do say that that Danes are friendly and have good language skills.

– It's wonderful that international students are positive about Danes' language skills and friendliness. We must utilise these strengths more and push to ensure that international students settle well. That is something we will closer at in the new year, says Morten Østergaard.

International students who take an entire programme in Denmark are often recommended to seek accommodation through their network as they do not have accommodation provided by the educational institution like exchange students. It can be very challenging when they only have few Danes in their network and the supply of suitable student accommodation in larger cities is limited.

"Den gode velkomst – en undersøgelse af internationale studerendes møde med det danske boligmarked og studiemiljø" (The good welcome – a study of international students’ interaction with the Danish housing market and student environment) was undertaken with participation from 1,026 international students.

For further information please contact:

Marketing adviser Ditte Amskov, tel:+45 7231 8907.

Special adviser Philip Flores, tel: +45 2237 1745.

DSK (student council) president Troels Bo Knudsen, tel: +45 2288 6047.

UngdommensAnalyseEnhed, senior adviser Mads Engholm, tel:+45 5051 0337.

last modified Feb 12, 2013