Denmark unable to claim millions in foreign student debt

Danish authorities unable to claim funds when EU students leave the country without paying off loans

New figures from the Education and Research Ministry show that students from other EU countries have accrued student loan debt in Denmark to the tune of 123 million kroner.

What’s worse is that the figure continues to increase because the Danish authorities are unable to get the money back once the students have left Denmark – again due to a loophole in EU regulations.

“It’s quite paradoxical there is such a hole in the rules – that we are duty-bound to provide benefits and loans, but the EU rules don’t give us the opportunity to get the money back again when these people have to pay their debt,” Henning Sørensen, an associate professor of EU law at the University of Southern Denmark, told P1 Radio.

READ MORE: Denmark with no foreign currency debt for first time in nearly 200 years

No legislation
There is actually an EU directive that binds member states to assist one another in recovering debt, but it doesn’t encompass student debt – and neither does any other Danish agreements with other nations.

The tax authority SKAT said that a prerequisite for it requesting a foreign authority to help recover debt would be that Denmark has a mutual agreement regarding the area with a said nation.

The student loan debt incurred by EU students has more than doubled since 2011, when it stood at 58 million kroner.

READ MORE: More refugees finding jobs in Denmark

Refugees independent
In related news, a new survey has revealed that more newly-arrived refugees and people in family reunification cases are managing to take care of themselves financially.

The survey, conducted by DR Nyheder based on answers from Denmark’s municipalities, revealed that a quarter of the estimated 30,000 people receiving Danish residence permits through asylum or family reunification since September 2015 are no longer dependent on public benefits.

“We’ve taken what looks like a quantum leap, but there is clearly a long way to go,” Inger Støjberg, the integration minister, told DR Nyheder.

A recent survey from the Employment Ministry also documented a significant increase in the number of refugees who had been in Denmark for three years and found a job – up from 12 percent in June 2015 to 30 percent in June 2016.