All students should study abroad, minister says

January 23rd, 2012

This article is more than 12 years old.

Education minister wants to make it less complicated for students to take part of their education in other countries

University students need to study outside of the countryÂ’s borders if Denmark is to compete on the world stage, politicians and the businesses agree.

The number of students taking part of their studies abroad is on the increase, but the education minister, Morten Østergaard (Radikale), isn’t satisfied.

“My vision is that all Danish students will study abroad as part of their university studies,” he told Politiken newspaper.

Østergaard said he would discuss with universities ways to make it less complicated and more attractive for students to complete part of their education abroad.

Magnus Pedersen, chair of the Danish Student Union, told Berlingkse newspaper that more students would chose to study abroad if it were easier to get their state-allocated student allowance, SU, approved for foreign study.

“Due to the SU agency’s long turnaround time, students risk not getting their education allowances until they’ve already gone abroad or come home again,” said Pedersen. “And not all students are able to pay up front or borrow money from their parents.”

University representatives received Østergaard’s initiative with open arms.

“We are definitely interested in students going out and getting a more versatile and useful education,” said Jens Oddershede, the spokesperson for Universities Denmark, which represents the country’s eight universities.

He hoped schools could also work with foreign universities to loosen rules requiring a balanced exchange in the number of students.

As the rules stand right now, if a school sends two students studying the same subject to a country, that country must send two students to Denmark to study.

“We need a more flexible interpretation of that balance,” Oddershede said.

Østergaard’s statements follow in the wake of an evaluation a 2008 rule change that allows students to use state funding to pay for their education abroad.

Since the policy took effect, 3,724 have taken advantage of it, but the ministry believes more may be interested.

Østergaard added that he hoped students at business and trade schools would also consider studying abroad.

“In a global world in which Denmark is a small, open economy, we need everyone to have international skills regardless of what they are studying.”

Most Danish students currently favor English-speaking countries when they study abroad. In fact, 70 percent of those who received funding to study abroad went to the United States, Australia or Great Britain. Østergaard would like to see more focus on the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

“We need them to travel to parts of the world where tomorrow’s economic growth is going to happen,” he said while proposing “tailored packages” to entice students away from English-speaking countries.


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