The Impact of Denmark’s Decision to Cut English-Language University Places

How are international students reacting to Denmark’s decision to cut spaces for courses taught in English-language?

It’s been almost a year since Denmark announced that it would be reducing the number of places in English-language taught courses at six of the country’s eight universities, and the impact has been significant.

In our recently released 2019 International Student Survey, 42% of prospective international students said they would be less likely to study in Denmark as a result of the announcement.

This demonstrates that interest from international students has substantially declined due to the decision, which was sparked by a study from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

According to this study, 42% of English-language master’s graduates and 50% of English-language bachelor’s graduates leave Denmark within two years of completing their studies.

This exodus of graduates is a big loss for its economy, and a hefty expense, as many receive education subsidies or grants from the Danish government.

When looking at prospective students interested in studying in Denmark, our International Student Survey data reveals that:

  • 48% plan to work after completing their studies
  • 30% plan to embark on further study
  • 40% plan to stay in Denmark for six months or more on a post-study work visa or for further study
  • 20% plan to return home immediately
  • 17% plan to stay in Denmark permanently

Given that 34,034 international students currently come to Denmark to study, it’s clear that the nation is doing everything it can to retain these skilled graduates.

The Ministry will be focusing its cuts on programs that see many graduates return home, such as English-language programs and Bachelor of Engineering programs.

In addition to these cuts, the Ministry will also intensify efforts for graduate retention, work with institutions to ensure programs address the needs of the Danish labor market, and improve the quality of English-language programs.

As one of the top five countries in Europe that offer English-language university programs, it’s clear that Denmark is determined to retain its skilled graduates, but they may see international student recruitment fall with these cuts.

To find out more about the state of EU higher education and what international students are thinking, download the full 2019 International Student Survey report.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

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