Comment: Denmark should aim for visitor’s advantage

Skrevet af Morten Østergaard, Minister of Higher Education • Felix Kasperek, translation - Foto: Kim Vadskær - 20. juni 2013 - 15:400 kommentarer
International experience strengthens both the student that goes abroad and our society as a whole, says Minister of Higher Education Morten Østergaard

Minister of Higher Education Morten Østergaard (B) explains how the government’s strategy of internationalization will make it easier for students to study abroad.

An education is meant to give graduates as good a start to their career as possible. One way of doing this can be by going abroad and getting international experience over the course of the studies.

Today, 17 % of students take part of their higher education abroad, in the form of a foreign exchange stay. The current government’s goal is that by 2020, half of all Danish graduates have been abroad studying or interning.

An increasing amount of people will end up in an international job market after having finished their studies, especially in developing markets. And it’s crucial that Danish students are comfortable with playing on the away field.

In order for Denmark to gain the most from globalization’s opportunities to create growth and jobs, employees have to have a global view on things as well as a high academic level with international competencies. The government has put extra focus on strengthening the quality and relevance of the educations through a number of initiatives, so all students get an education that contributes to growth and competitiveness for Denmark.

Shortcut to navigation in other cultures
The educational institutions are increasingly concerned about the needs of society and the industries. But the students have a responsibility for shaping their education, so they have a market value as graduates, with competencies relevant for the jobs they want. A way of increasing your market value can be by studying abroad.

A foreign exchange period as part of the studies is a shortcut to learning to navigate other cultures and societies. As a student tells, he’s learned that it’s important to the Chinese that you hand someone your business card with two hands rather than one, and always start off an email with something personal. The Chinese tone isn’t learnt by reading a book in Denmark.

Over the last few years, lots of initiatives have been taken to give more students the opportunity to on exchange abroad, e.g. the establishment of the foreign exchange stipend (part of the Danish educational support) to help pay tuition at higher learning institutions abroad.