International schools growing after law change

Ensuring a greater number of places for international students will enable Denmark to attract foreign workers, the government and lobby groups have argued

A law change in 2010 has lead to an increase in the number of places for international students in Denmark, according to research by Berlingske newspaper.

The law change allowed established international schools in to expand and create new off-site campuses. Copenhagen International School is one of the schools to have taken advantage of the change and has established a new high school campus in Østerbro, enabling the school to offer 25 percent more places.

“We managed to change the law after many years of lobbying,” Thomas Nielsen, an admissions officer at CIS, told Berlingske. “We have been fighting with a waiting list problem for many years. Many international families turn down jobs here if there is no space for their child at an international school.”

Last May, the Danish association of councils, KL, reported that Copenhagen was lacking 2,000 places for children at international schools and that this acted as a barrier for businesses wanting to attract foreign employees.

While the law change has helped create more places, only one other school, the German Sankt Petri, school has used the opportunity to expand.

The government is taking action, however, and promised when they were elected in September to increase the number of places available, as well as to take steps to allow ordinary public schools to offer international lines.

“Our ambition is to increase the number of international school places in Denmark that can make different offers to students,” the education minister, Christine Antorini, told Berlingske. “It's a shame that only private schools currently offer international school places when everyone agrees it is important to offer. That is why we have started a study together with KL to take a look at the options for establishing international lines at public schools. It is not possible today because the teaching language in Danish schools has to be Danish.”

Berlingske also reported that the government has applied to the EU to open a free European School. Last December the business foundation, Industriens Fond, donated 32 million kroner for the project that would provide free international schooling for the children of European civil servants and international employees.

“It is essential for growth in the capital that there is an ambitious, internationally-accredited school so that the businesses can attract the necessary international work force, including Danish workers posted abroad who want to return home,” the CEO of Industriens Fond, Mads Lebech, wrote in a press release.

The current proposal would see the school, which would provide 100 to 150 places, join up with Skt Annæ Gymnasium in Valby.

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