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International students are taking the wrong degrees for the Danish job market

Increasing numbers of foreign students are studying at universities in Denmark – but ever fewer are finding jobs immediately after graduation. Denmark needs a recruitment strategy to avoid the country becoming an ‘educational transit post’ and to ensure that Danish businesses are able to recruit the candidates they need, says Deputy Director at the Confederation of Danish Industry Charlotte Rønhof.
“More international students choosing to study here is good news for Denmark. But it requires that they study what Danish businesses need – and find a job quickly. This is unfortunately where things are going wrong at the moment,” says Deputy Director Charlotte Rønhof.

A new survey published by the Confederation of Danish Industry shows that the number of international students in Denmark has increased rapidly over the past ten years.

In 2014, more than 12,000 international students were admitted to higher education in Denmark. This is an increase of 165% since 2005 and corresponds to slightly more than one in every ten students in higher education in Denmark in 2014 being from abroad.

“More international students choosing to study here is good news for Denmark. But it requires that they study what Danish businesses need – and find a job quickly. This is unfortunately where things are going wrong at the moment,” says Deputy Director Charlotte Rønhof.

Highest number of unemployed from business academies

Denmark benefits most from international master’s degree students. They tend to find jobs quickly and earn the highest salaries when they graduate – but their share of the international student body is currently falling. While the share of students on shorter courses, such as business academy courses, is rising.

The survey published by the Confederation of Danish Industry shows that business academy courses have seen the biggest rise in the number of international students – more than 400% in the period from 2005 to 2014.

These shorter courses also have the fewest foreign students finding jobs immediately after graduation.

In 2006, more than 40% of students went directly into a job while the figure in 2011 had more than halved to only 18% of international students on business academy courses being in work one year after graduation.

“It is unfortunate if recruitment of international students is increasingly aimed at students who do not immediately get jobs in Denmark after graduation. Denmark has a great need for enriching its job market with graduates from abroad. We need international students in the areas where not enough Danes are graduating, but also international graduates who have different skills to those Danish students have,” says Charlotte Rønhof.

Large growth on courses taught in English

The reason that so many international students are applying for short university-level courses may be that the number of courses being taught in English has risen significantly – and the share of foreign students on these courses is rising.

A survey published by the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education shows that at the start of the academic year 2015 84% of students on shorter university-level courses taught in English were non-Danes.

“We see that there are particular challenges on business academy courses, but there are obviously courses where it makes sense to have international students. There is just a clear need for a thorough review of all courses at these business academies,” believes Deputy Director at the Confederation of Danish Industry Charlotte Rønhof.

If this trend continues, the number of international students completing a university-level course in Denmark could exceed 8,500 by 2018. It is important that more of these students acquire the skills that are needed in the Danish job market.

 

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PUBLISHED: 5/27/2016 LAST MODIFIED: 11/26/2016