University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Editorial: Wrong message to the wrong people

New immigration restrictions are immoral and irrational, argues the editor of the University Post. And they could ultimately leave Denmark alone in the dark

IT IS A MANTRA repeated mind-numbingly often by Danish government ministers: Denmark needs to attract talented international scientists to keep the economy going.

But the latest round of restrictions, ostensibly to avoid the type of immigration that the Danish government does not like such as arranged marriages and an influx of unqualified migrants into ghettos, is hitting the very people it wants to attract.

Restrictions that will hit international students and researchers include:

Automatic expulsion if your application for a residence permit is too late, a DKK 1750-3000 fee to apply, and, for non-Danish citizens who live here permanently, no more government study grants.

Politicians typically refer to international students and researchers as brains. They talk of ‘the brain drain’, and ‘attracting the brains’.

But the latest law includes a complicated points system on family reunification that has turned the objectifying rhetoric of attracting brains into something ludicrous.

Your spouse gets an extra 40 points if your PhD or Master’s degree is from Denmark or a top 20 university.

THINK ABOUT IT. Even on the most charitable rankings, Danish universities are nowhere near the top 20, even though they rank well. The Times World University Ranking has Aarhus and Copenhagen on 167th and 177th. The QS ranking has them on 84th and 45th.

A comment on was harsh: »Who would like to come to Denmark to live after having university degrees from prestigious universities like Harvard? I’m afraid the answer is no one.«

LUCKILY for universities like Copenhagen, people still fall in love and make friends.

Research recently reported on shows that
chance encounters and sudden opportunities are far more important in international students’ and researchers’ decisions to opt for Denmark than what politicians do to scare them away.

Some of the anger expressed in comments on over the new immigration laws in recent weeks is misplaced: If you get in, you can still get a degree here, a career, and a life. Copenhagen still scores OK on statistics measuring liveability, services and even happiness.

BUT the government is sending the wrong message, and it is sending it to the wrong people. If you are not welcome, you will leave, and Denmark will be left alone. Would the last foreigner to leave Denmark please turn off the lights?