The Danish government must drop the cap on international students to maximise their full potential, especially in engineering fields, stakeholders have said.
The Danish Engineering association IDA has issued a plea to the government to allow more to work after graduation and fill crippling labour shortages.
“International students are an excellent business for Denmark,” said Aske Nydam Guldberg, acting chairman of IDA.
“From 2007 to 2020 international students have added over 26 billion kroner to the economy, and that is after we have subtracted expenses for SU [Danish student loans], education and health, and those who have just returned home,” he continued.
The figures, which have been compiled for IDA by Damvad Analytics, show that expenditure on international students who ultimately return home after studies is “offset” by international graduates working in Denmark and spending themselves.
Over the years, 12bn of those 26 have come from engineering, and other technical sciences courses, as well as natural science.
Despite this, according to Guldberg, the government has insisted that international student provisions have been a “drain on resources” as many go home after completing their courses.
As such, plans to limit spending on foreign students, and reduce courses in English by up to 25%, were backed by almost every party in the Danish parliament in July 2021.
The decision directly led to the closure of 3,900 university places for international students, causing concerns for current students.
“We need action from Christiansborg, because we lack manpower”
Ricardo Carmo, who was interviewed by Ingeniøren, a weekly newspaper aimed at engineers, moved to Denmark permanently after studying at the University of Southern Denmark and now works for a robotics company in Odense.
“I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I hadn’t decided in advance to stay. I don’t plan that far ahead and I wanted to see how it went. If I liked it, I would consider staying, and if not, I would find an alternative,” Carmo said.
He did end up staying, and is currently working on a larger European-wide project focused on “the application of robotic arms”.
Guldberg predicted that there would be a 13,000 strong shortage of graduates by the end of the decade.
“Now we need action from Christiansborg, because we lack manpower; especially in IT, natural sciences, and the engineering fields,” he insisted.
“Our companies needed these employees and skills. They need them in order to make the green and the digital transformation, so that we become a sustainable society.
“Therefore, it is time to do something. It is time to make room for international students and to open up and invite them in. So, dear politicians: drop the ceiling,” he implored.