International school receives 200 million kroner for expansion

Copenhagen International School only needs another 100 million kroner before it can start building its new 1,200 capacity school in Nordhavn

A donation by the charitable arm of the Danish shipping giant A.P. Møller Mærsk has brought Copenhagen International School (CIS) one step closer to building its new and larger school.

The new 22,400 square metre building will increase the school’s maximum capacity to 1,200 students, up from the 800 which are currently spread over two campuses in Hellerup and Østerbro.

The new school will lie in the new district by Nordhavn harbour and is expected to cost about 600 million kroner, half of which the school is expected to raise through loans and the sale of its campus in Hellerup.

The 200 million donation from the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation means that the school only has 100 million left to raise before construction can start.

The one condition of the donation is that construction on the school get underway within a year. Chairman of CIS’s property fund, John Bo Jacobsen, said he hopes that the fund’s donation will add momentum to the fundraising.

“We have experienced a lot of interest in the project and we are optimistic,” Jacobsen told Berlingske newspaper. "We hope to clarify our position reasonably soon as otherwise the project will risk being delayed, in which case we risk having waiting lists again.”

Ensuring places for the children of foreign workers is vital if Denmark is going to remain attractive to international businesses, which was the main reason why the fund chose to support the school.

“The A.P. Møller fund has chosen to support a considerable expansion of CIS because it is well-documented that there is a need for a larger international school of high caliber in greater Copenhagen,” the fund’s director Henrik Tvarnø told Berlingske. “The large donation from the fund corresponds to the fact that there is a sizeable societal interest in strengthening international schools and education in Denmark.”

Recent studies have shown that Copenhagen lags behind other major European cities when attempting to attract highly skilled foreign workers, and while the expansion of CIS provides some much-needed capacity, a study by the Danish association of councils, KL, reported in May that Copenhagen was lacking as many as 2,000 international school places.

The present and former governments have worked to remove obstacles in the way of increasing international school capacity in Copenhagen by. For instance, a 2010 law change allowed schools to open new campuses in different parts of the city which CIS took advantage of by opening its new campus in Østerbro for its high school students.

The current government has promised to increase the number of places by applying to the EU to establish a free European School while the education minister, Christine Antorini (Socialdemokraterne) has suggested changing the law to allow the creation of international lines at Danish public schools.