There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

The universities in Denmark are now open for business following the summer break.

At International House we see a long line of students waiting to be served with their CPR number and other essentials that will enable them to integrate into the Danish environment for as long as it takes. They are from all over the world.  Education has become a big business. 

But is Denmark missing a trick? While some students from outside the EU and EFTA (regions that qualify for free education) are willing to pay the exorbitant prices the universities charge for the more than 700 different courses of study on offer, surely more would if they were able to lower their prices. 

The universities need the fee-paying students to balance their own budgets, but isn’t it about time the government removed this burdensome worry and helped them to run as efficiently and profitably as possible and prosper in a competitive market by charging the locals as well.

After all, 40 percent of all higher education is now conducted in English – a language that is already prevalent across the country’s universities. 

It makes one wonder if some sort of tuition fee should also apply to everyone. If fees were evened out they would be more attractive for global talent. 

Besides, the word is that the global students are outperforming the locals.  Could that be because a number of the local students are not really motivated?

Record numbers applied for higher education places this year, but would so many be interested if there was a fair tuition fee to be paid?

The country needs an influx of talent, and that talent is to be found worldwide. Introducing a modest tuition fee for EU and EFTA students could be used to bring down the cost of tuition fees for global students – particularly when you factor in the high living costs, like rent (see page 2).

Our price for the free lunch is inequality and inefficiency and – what is worse – some of that talent is going where they can afford it, which is not where we want them. 

If we want world class education, we need to attract world-class students. Not with a free lunch, because there ain’t no such thing, but with a fair competitive and attractive environment for the production of future Nobel Prize winners.