According to a new survey conducted by the Education and Research Ministry, around 6 percent of all new graduates leave Denmark to pursue their first jobs elsewhere.
A number of sectors in Denmark, including health and construction, have lamented the revelations, particularly given that the sectors are in dire need of employees.
“We would have wanted as many doctors as possible to stay in Denmark, but the field is international and there will always be an exchange between nations,” Anders Kühnau, a regional politician, told DR Nyheder.
The Danish chamber of commerce, Dansk Erhverv, and the Danish centre for social science research, VIVE, are also concerned about the exodus of graduates, as is political party Dansk Folkeparti (DF).
DF is worried that Denmark pays for the education of international students, only to see them leave for home once they’ve completed their studies.
“We need to limit that traffic. Denmark pays for their educations and SU [students’ grants and loans scheme] during their educations. That’s not our task. Our tax money should be going to ensure that Danish youngsters get the best possible educations,” Jens Henrik Thulesen Dahl, the DF education spokesperson, told DR Nyheder.
A report last year revealed that the number of international students in Denmark has risen sharply in recent years, from 7,500 in 2004 to 22,000 in 2016.
Free in the EU
The survey did not specify whether the exodus of graduates was down to Danes going abroad for jobs or if it was internationals returning home, but the universities maintain that most of the graduates leaving are indeed internationals.
International students from the EU, EEA and the Nordics can study for free in Denmark, while students from other countries need to pay for their educations themselves. If students fulfil a number of demands, they are also permitted to be given SU. When Nordic students study in Denmark, their home countries pay for part of the expense.
The educations that have the highest percentages of graduate exoduses are Global Area Studies (44 percent), Innovation and Business (43 percent), Mechatronics Engineering (40 percent), and Animation and Global Development (both 33 percent).
Still good business
But despite Dansk Erhverv wanting more students to remain in Denmark, they concede that the issue has yet to reach fever pitch, and overall international students are good business for Denmark.
It is estimated that international students who do end up staying in Denmark contribute between 100,000 and 350,000 kroner in tax, and despite only one in three staying, those who do cover the expense of those who leave.
“The alarm bells aren’t tolling quite just yet. It will only become critical when more brains leave than enter the country,” Mads Eriksen, the education and research policy head for Dansk Erhverv, told DR Nyheder.
Denmark decided to curb its international student intake last year following a survey that revealed that 42 percent of English-language students leave Denmark within two years of graduation from a Danish university and only about a third have a job in Denmark at that time.