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Fines for accepting too many exchange students

Government forces Danish universities to pay nearly DKK 100 million in fines, for not balancing incoming and outgoing exchange student numbers

A controversial law to ensure a balance between incoming and outgoing exchange student numbers has set off DKK 97.5 million in fines for Danish Universities, reports Danish newspaper Metro Xpress. Universities have accepted more non-Danish exchange students than they have sent abroad, and will be forced to accept fewer international students in the future, as reported by University Post when the law came into effect in 2011.

The law, passed during a previous government, is designed to encourage Danish universities to send more students abroad, at the cost of an extra layer of bureaucracy. As we have previously reported, Minister for Education, Morten Østergaard, believes every Danish student should spend time studying abroad, though not enough Danish students are doing so.

After facing pressure from university officials, Østergaard is now considering a change in the exchange student balance law:

Strange policy

“The goal is to have more Danish students studying abroad. The question is whether this is the correct way of achieving this goal”, the Minister of Education is quoted as saying in Metro Xpress.

Kristian Thorn, responsible for the vice-directorate of Research and Talent in Aarhus University agrees:

“It is impractical to fine universities for attracting too many international students, while the goal is increased internationalisation. Foreign students add a lot to Danish universities and to the study environment”, says Kristian Thorn of Aarhus, which was fined DKK 10 million.

Forced to limit international student numbers

In 2011, after prolonged negotiations, University of Copenhagen received a reprieve from the government for exchange balance laws. The reprieve runs out in 2013.

The University Post has so far not been able to ascertain whether University of Copenhagen was among the universities fined. Aarhus University and Aalborg University both received fines.

“We are working hard to increase the number of Danish students on exchange, though in the short term we are forced to limit the number of foreign exchange students, in order to avoid breaking the law”, says Kristian Thorn of Aarhus.

“It is important to take foreign students. It would be unfortunate if we have to reduce their numbers in order to achieve some kind of balance”, says Emilie Normann, international director from Aalborg University, which was fined DKK 17 million.

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