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A new political agreement limits SU spending on foreign students from the EU

July 05, 2021
The Government (the Social Democrats), the Liberal Party, the Danish People's Party, the Socialist People's Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Alliance have entered into an agreement to reduce the number of courses offered in English at higher education institutions.

This agreement has been entered into because a continually increasing number of students from EU and EEA countries are making use of the opportunity to receive Danish SU (State Educational Grant). This means that SU expenses for this group of students have risen sharply in recent years. Despite several political attempts to bring expenditure under control, expenditure is expected to rise to approximately DKK 570 million in 2025, which is far above the level of DKK 449 million which was agreed upon in the SU agreement of 2013.

The new agreement that has just been entered into aims to reduce the number of students from EU/EEA countries receiving SU. When reducing the number of courses offered in English, the emphasis has been on studies in which only very few of the English-speaking students subsequently find employment in Denmark.

- A large majority of the parties in Parliament have promised to ensure that the expenses for foreign students do not get out of control. We are now delivering on that promise. It is not an easy decision, but we are deliberately reducing the number of courses on which only a few of the foreign students subsequently find work in Denmark. However, we are aware that it is also necessary to take local situations into account - especially in the case of some of our courses which are situated outside the major towns, comments the Minister for Higher Education and Science, Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen.

The reduction targets business academies and university colleges

The reduction targets business academy and vocational bachelor programmes offered in English. In these cases, seven out of ten (72%) of the students are English-speaking, but only one in five (21%) of them find work in Denmark after completing their education.

However, the parties behind the agreement want to respect those business academy and vocational bachelor programmes that succeed in educating English-speaking students for employment in Denmark, as well as programmes that, for example, are unique or are of special relevance to the regional labour market. The parties to the agreement have therefore agreed to exempt about 650 student places from the planned reduction of courses offered in English.

The agreement emphasizes that as few study places as possible will be removed. However, the agreement will inevitably affect some institutions. The parties to the agreement have therefore agreed to earmark DKK 50 million in 2023, DKK 37 million in 2024 and DKK 25 million in 2025 to compensate the institutions most affected, helping them to adapt to the new situation and to reorganize the institution to focus on the courses offered in Danish.

The parties behind the agreement also agree that offering more opportunities for employment for English-speaking students is itself a major task. Developments must be closely followed, so DKK 50 million will be set aside per year to remunerate institutions that succeed in getting more graduates into employment.

Finally, the parties to the agreement agree that it must still be possible for students at business academies and university colleges to participate in exchanges as part of their studies. The parties to the agreement have therefore agreed to improve opportunities for taking subjects in English within Danish-language business academy courses and vocational courses at university colleges, and that this must be reflected in the legislation.

The parties to the agreement expect these measures to ensure that SU costs for migrant job seekers from EU/EEA countries are kept at the level set in the SU agreement. However, the parties also agree that developments within the remaining courses offered in English must be closely monitored, and that, if necessary, measures must be taken if SU expenditure increases significantly.

Included in the agreement is the decision to contribute to the financing of the Political Agreement on the framework for more and better opportunities for education throughout Denmark. DKK 48 million will be available in 2023, increasing to DKK 161 million in 2026.

SU for migrant job seekers from the EU/EEA

According to EU legislation, students from EU/EEA countries have the right to SU, when alongside their studies they have worked for at least 10-12 hours a week for a continuous period of 10 weeks. This gives students the status of migrant job seekers, which makes them entitled to social benefits - including SU.

In 2013, the parties involved in SU negotiations entered into a political agreement that the SU costs for EU/EEA citizens with the status of migrant job seekers must not exceed DKK 449 million per year.

For more information, contact:

The press line of the Ministry of Higher Education and Science: +45 7231 8181

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