New plans to attract and retain talented non-Europeans

Three ministers have presented the Danish government's new plans to attract highly qualified people to the country and retain international students from outside Europe after graduation, including tax perks, a fast-track employment system and simplified immigration.

They were Tax Minister Morten Ostergaard, Minister of Employment Mette Frederiksen and Minister of Higher Education and Science Sofie Carsten Nielsen.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science also commissioned DREAM - Danish Rational Economic Agents Model - to calculate the cost-benefits of retaining foreign experts, stating that retaining 1,000 such experts would create an additional 1,000 to 1,500 jobs.

Government measures

The government is proposing a set of measures to attract and retain highly qualified foreigners.

One is a fast-track arrangement for companies that want to employ foreign experts, and another is simplification of the current green card option for immigration to Denmark, which will be further adapted to cater for highly educated people.

Most important, however, is lowering of the roof of tax reduction salaries from the present DKK70,600 (US$13,100) a month to DKK60,600 (US$11,200) a month, with foreign experts not having to pay more than 32% in taxes.

Further, highly qualified foreigners will receive a 'personal number' at an earlier date, which makes it easier to settle in Denmark, open a bank account and get equal access to the Danish health system and other welfare services.

Support schemes will be developed to receive and retain foreigners in Danish companies, and the salaries and working conditions of foreigners will be better monitored and controlled. Entrepreneurs with good ideas for start-up companies will be eligible for a residence permit.

International PhD and masters students will be encouraged to stay on after graduation, talented students in selected fields will receive study grants, and post-secondary education will be further internationalised.

The grant system is targeting highly talented students from outside Europe, who will be exempted from tuition fees, which range from DKK45,000 to DKK120,000 (US$8,400 to US$22,300) a year, and will receive a grant of DKK8,826 a month.

The grant scheme will start in 2015 for 60 to 65 students, who will be admitted to Danish universities under rules set by universities wanting to participate. There will be efforts to expand the number of grants through university foundations.

Ongoing internationalisation project

The action plan worked out by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science is the second part of ongoing work towards greater internationalisation of Danish higher education institutions.

This action plan has 24 concrete initiatives and five goals, which are:
  • • All parts of the higher education system will have a significant international dimension.
  • • Denmark will attract more highly talented tuition fee-paying students.
  • • Drop-out rates among international students will be on a par with Danish students.
  • • More international students will stay on and work in Denmark after graduating.
  • • International students that decide to stay in Denmark will have the same employment opportunities as Danish students.
In 2012 there were 22,260 international students registered for degree study in Danish higher education institutions, representing an 11% increase over 2011. International students now constitute 9% of all students in Denmark.

The largest sending countries are Norway (3,003), Germany (2,164), Romania (1,776), Sweden (1,735), Lithuania (1,498), Bulgaria (1,025), Iceland (907), Poland (801), Latvia (731) and China (716).

In seems, however, that there is yet more work to be done.

Simultaneously with these events, Copenhagen Capacity published a survey in which 350 international students were asked about their knowledge of Danish industry - it was found to be almost non-existent among respondents.