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New proposal: the Government wants to tighten up on international SU debt

Through 7 concrete initiatives, the Government wants to ensure that foreign citizens pay their SU debt. Denmark should not be a gift shop, where we allow international students to avoid paying the SU debt, says Minister for Taxation Karsten Lauritzen.

Feb 23, 2018

International students must pay their SU debt when they have completed their exams and left Denmark. Therefore, the Government is presenting a new proposal today “Stronger measures to recover SU debt abroad”, which contains 7 concrete initiatives on a national and international level that will improve efforts to collect SU debt from foreign citizens.

- We see an increasing trend of foreign students coming to Denmark and benefiting from our advantageous SU and SU loans. Unfortunately, we can see that many return home and leave their debt at the border. This is of course unacceptable. We are therefore strengthening our efforts with the aim of increasing debt repayments, says Minister for Taxation Karsten Lauritzen.

- The Government makes a point of people in Denmark being able to educate themselves without being financially dependent on their parents. The system is good and generous and must not be exploited. It is unacceptable when Nordic and other European students leave their debt behind after receiving a free education, SU, and availed of a SU loan if finances were tight. We must therefore try to recover the debts owed, says Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind.

The proposal paves the way for placing an obligation on debtors to inform authorities of their new address if they move away from Denmark. Meanwhile a pilot project will be initiated with private debt recovery companies that can help Danish authorities recover any debt. A third initiative would see a special unit of the coming Danish Debt Agency (which is being formed as of 1 July 2018), having a particular focus on recovering SU debt abroad.

The Government will also be raising the problem internationally with the European Commission to find common solutions that benefit all Member States. Furthermore, the Government will strengthen cooperation with our Nordic neighbours as most of the international students in Denmark originate here.

In 2017, SU debt from foreign students totalled DKK 155 million. Of this, DKK 80 million was attributed to foreign students no longer residing in Denmark, which is an increase of DKK 20 million in the last two years alone.

The Government aims to recover these funds with the latest proposal.

Box 1. 7 initiatives for improved recovery of SU debt abroad

Track I - National initiatives

• Creation of a special new unit in the Danish Debt Agency
• Cooperation with international debt recovery companies
• Compulsory collection through legal action
• Obligatory address information

Track II - International initiatives

• Nordic cooperation
• Bilateral agreements
• New EU instrument


For further information please contact:

Ministry of Higher Education and Science media enquiries: +45 7231 8181

last modified Feb 23, 2018