Diversity and Inclusion – International Students in Denmark

Recently, I have been reading posts concerning international student education in Denmark. This is one such topic that one just doesn’t want to read or doesn’t want to believe in until one sees more and more of such posts and wonders, “Is this for real?” Then I googled and found this news on CPH Post Online: “Danish Government to heavily reduce English-language course availability.

I moved to Denmark in 2012 as an international student joining the Copenhagen Business School’s Full-time MBA program. In September 2012, I walked directly from the Copenhagen airport right into a room filled with students coming from 23 different countries. Yes! This is exactly what I had signed up for – a multicultural environment!

How do I even start describing what this amazing multicultural environment has taught me? We were learning from each other how to collaborate and bring the best of us to the table. Even the conflicts we had made us more understanding and respectful of the differences. I am sure that anyone who has been a part of a multicultural team, project, or any other arrangement, would truly connect with this phrase – “Together we become stronger and can achieve more!”

As an Alumni and a mentor to the CBS MBA’s Leadership Discovery Process, I continue to advocate the immense benefits that multiculturalism can bring. So, here is my thought / reflection / humble suggestion as to what our Danish Government could do to possibly reach a balance between maintaining educational costs and sustaining diversity & inclusion:


Suggestion 1: Introduce Danish language as an integral part of the curriculum and top it up with a crash course on making applications & attending interviews in Danish language.

Current scenario: The courses that are targeted by this controversial bill are mostly vocational academy and professional bachelor courses. The reason being 72% of the graduates happen to be English speakers and only 21% end up having an employment in Denmark. The job market is unable to absorb this talent simply because most of the jobs in the related areas require fluency in Danish language. For the benefit of the readers across the globe, I am sharing few more clarifications to this scenario:

  1. Denmark does provide a friendly and open job market. However, except for the large multinational organizations / institutions wherein English is the working language, most of the small or mid-level businesses / organizations / institutions thrive on local resources that converse fluently in Danish language. Hypothetically, if an international graduate is given an opportunity in one such small / medium sized organization, he / she may still find it challenging to communicate freely with colleagues in English. On the other hand, when an international candidate learns how to converse in Danish, it opens multiple opportunities both in MNCs and in small / mid-sized companies.
  2. Denmark does provide every international candidate an opportunity to learn Danish language. Aside from the government provided opportunities to learn the language, there are also other methods, such as apps to support / to speed up the learning process. However, most of the international students prioritize their main subjects related to their vocational / bachelor courses over the Danish language course. Immediately after their graduation, such students are left with approximately 3 to 6 months of Student Visa to do the job search. Under pressure, such students start job searching elsewhere and eventually move out of Denmark, if they do not get a job within this timeframe.

Possible alternative (Explanation to the suggestion): When Danish language is made one of the main subjects to the vocational / professional bachelor courses together with a crash course on making applications and attending interviews in Danish, the students will have to prioritize learning the language and practice making applications to various positions in both English and Danish languages as a part of their curriculum. This way, Denmark could retain international talent and reap the benefits of multiculturalism creating cutting edge innovations for the future.


Suggestion 2: Decrease amount of SU grant to EU and EEA students to maintain the costs.

Current Scenario: the Danish government is estimating the SU grant to EU and EEA students to increase from 449 million to 570 million Danish kroner. SU (Statens Uddannelsestøtte) is an economic help that one can get in Denmark, while getting educated. The students will have to fulfill certain set of conditions (refer the following website for further details: https://www.su.dk/su/) to be eligible for such a grant. Each receives on an average DKK 4.200 per month. With a greater number of international students coming into Denmark year after year (especially EU and EEA students) this cost is bound to increase.

Possible alternative (Explanation to the suggestion): When the SU grant to EU and EEA students is reduced by for example kr. 500 per student or kr.1000 per student, the Danish government could possibly reap the following benefits:

  • Reduce the overall costs related to SU grant incurred for the purpose of educating EU and EEA students by approximately 70 million to 135 million (see table 2 for calculations),
  • Such a reduction in SU grant will also motivate EU & EEA students to enter the Danish job market soon to sustain their monthly expenses by taking part-time jobs,
  • Each time an EU or EEA student opts to get a part-time job, he or she is getting a chance to
    • Communicate in Danish language,
    • Integrate with the community, and
    • Increase possibilities of finding a permanent job soon.

Table 1 shows the average SU grant that students (including EU & EEA students) have been receiving for 5 years and the overall number of students (including EU & EEA students)

Table 1: Average SU /student & no. of students
År /
Gennemsnit (kr.) /
Average (kr.)
Antal /
2019 4200            4.798.815
2018 4200            4.774.299
2017 4200            4.774.601
2016 4200            4.706.543
2015 4200            4.663.657
Source: https://www.statistikbanken.dk/
Table 2: SU Grant to EU & EEA students
Overall Cost Avg. Per student Approx. Number of students
Current SU kr. 449.000.000 kr. 4.200                     106.905
Expected SU kr. 570.000.000 kr. 4.200                     135.714
Assume SU Grant is reduced by Kr.500 per student kr. 502.142.857 kr. 3.700                     135.714
Assume SU Grant is reduced by Kr.1000 per student kr. 434.285.714 kr. 3.200                     135.714
Table based on estimation & assumption

Thanks for reading this content. Again, this is just my humble opinion as an international student, who has come to appreciate and continued to live in this country. Please feel free to share your ideas as to how, you think, the Danish government could maintain the student costs while nurturing multiculturalism. 😊


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