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Universities and industry in Denmark kick-start international brain gain

(Photo: Mette Koors)

Denmark’s students, universities and industry unite in a new national partnership with the aim of making it easier for international graduates to start their career in Denmark. Tom Dahl-Østergaard, the Dean’s Representative of International Talent Retention at CBS, has been appointed as one of two university representatives in the partnership.

News |   16. Jan 2019

Anne Thora Lykkegaard


Encouraging more international graduates to start their career in Denmark is not only a concern for CBS and the other Danish universities. It’s also a concern for Danish industry.

The Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv), the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industry), and the National Union of Students (Danske Studerendes Fællesråd) have come together in a new national partnership, in which Tom Dahl-Østergaard, the Dean’s Representative of International Talent Retention at CBS, together with Rikke Jønson, Career Consultant from Aalborg University, will be representing the eight Danish universities.

“This position is well in line with the job I’m doing at CBS already, and it’s an opportunity to do even more,” says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

The new partnership aims to come up with recommendations for politicians, universities and industry in Denmark to make it easier and more interesting for international graduates to take up work here.

“We should not only decide that this is what we want to do, we also have to succeed with it,” he says and continues:

“And what I know now is that a lot of international students want to make Denmark their home, but have to leave because they can’t find a job. And that’s quite a paradox, given that the industry is crying out for more employees.”

We should not only decide that this is what we want to do, we also have to succeed with it

Tom Dahl-Østergaard, CBS

The partnership meet for the first time on February 1. In total, the partnership will have four meetings in the next four to five months, and will present their results at Folkemødet on Bornholm in summer.

Changing Denmark’s image

Tom Dahl-Østergaard explains that the partnership will look at the issue in a broader perspective, as the problem not only stems from the universities where the students get their degrees. But it’s a part of the problem.

“I know that students who are here on a visa run into trouble when their visa expires. I heard about a student from South Korea who wasn’t allowed to come to Denmark for the final exam. If we see a lot of these kinds of examples from the universities, we have a case for politicians to take a look at it,” he says and continues:

“But we also have to look at the graduates’ employability, and whether prejudice and misconceptions stand in the way of graduates getting employed.”

Tom Dahl-Østergaard argues that it will be a win-win situation if more international graduates decide to stay in Denmark, as more talented students from outside Denmark will view it as a place where you can start a career.

“If we can change the image of Denmark from a place where you just come and go, to a place where you actually have great possibilities of making a career, and you really do, then it will become even more attractive to do a degree here. That is, in my opinion, in Denmark’s interest,” says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

According to Tom Dahl-Østergaard, the partnership will start by looking at the available data to see if more data is needed about the international graduates and their experiences of finding a job in Denmark.

“It’s likely that we will carry out some surveys together with the Confederation of Danish Industry, if our knowledge is patchy,” he says.


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