University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


EU students can sneak out of repaying their Danish SU loans

SU loans — 1,700 international students have a total of DKK 123 million in Danish SU student loans which are they are not repaying. But the EU Commission does not plan to help the Danish government recover its debts.

EU regulations ensure that young people from EU countries have the right to take an SU student loan if they study in Denmark and have either stayed in the country for five years, or have a job at least 10 to 12 hours a week.

10,200 EU citizens have used this opportunity and they now owe DKK 782 million in student debts to Denmark. But not everyone pays the money back when they go home, according to numbers from the Ministry of Taxation.

1,700 former students from other EU countries have defaulted on their debt payments to the Danish state to a total of DKK 123 million.

Read more: SU for international students – how to apply

EU response unclear

The Danish authorities cannot do anything about it if they do not pay the money voluntarily, and if they have no assets ​​in Denmark, according to the news site Politiken.

By contrast, if a Danish student does not pay off his debt, tax authorities can sell his or her property – say, a house or a car – in a forced sale.

Minister of Taxation Karsten Lauritzen (V) and Minister for Education and Research Søren Pind (V) have written to the EU Commission asking for help. They point out that 39 per cent of the foreign students have defaulted on their debts in 2016 and that the problem is increasing.

The EU Commission has responded – but Henning Bang Fuglsang Madsen Sørensen, associate Professor and PhD at the Department of Law at the University of Southern Denmark, says to news site Politiken that the response does not clarify what Danish authorities can do to prosecute the students who owe money.

EU regulation is decisive

The key point is whether SU debt is covered by the so-called Brussels I-regulation, and can be classified as a civil judicial issue.

“The trick with the Brussels regulation is that you can go after assets throughout the EU,” says Henning Bang Fuglsang Madsen Sørensen to Politiken.

This is not made clear in the EU Commission response to the Danish ministers.

The only alternatives, according to the EU expert, are to urge the EU to make new specific rules for SU loans or to wait until 2022 when the Brussels regulation is due to be updated.

Denmark can also bring a case before the European Court of Justice. But tax minister Karsten Lauritzen is not in favour of this solution as it is very circumstantial and costly.

The tax minister will instead contact the countries that send many students to Denmark. He emphasizes that the Danish authorities will recover the debt in the end.