A reform of the SU education grants can save the international study environment
This debate post is originially published by Politiken, April 22, 2021
Mads Taudal Nyeng, President of CBS Students
Maria Zoladkowska, President of CBS Students
Nikolaj Malchow-Møller, President of CBS
We have encountered a problem. The SU expenses for EU students have now exceeded the DKK 450m cap decided by a broad political majority. So we have to find a solution. It may sound plausible to reduce those expenses by cutting the number of international students. However, as students and president of a university centred on business, we find that doing so is equivalent to throwing the baby out with the bathwater without considering the difference they make in the Danish education system and to the companies in need of young people with international competences. Therefore we call for courage and ask that we scrutinise these education expenses. Let us find out what we get for our money – also in terms of SU.
In Denmark, we have the privilege of an education system which opens up for knowledge about the world and is open for knowledge from the world. We encourage our children to be curious and give them the courage to ask questions when they encounter something they do not understand or they think could be different. We teach them to communicate in foreign languages and introduce them to the English language already in the 1st grade because we wish to prepare them for life in a globalised world. A world in need of thorough language skills if you are to perform in the labour market – in Denmark as well as abroad. This argument was put forward in the Danish Folkeskole Accord (folkeskoleforliget) in 2014 and it still applies.
At the other end of the education spectrum we find the universities who, backed by a political majority and the globalisation agreement of 2006, have made systematic efforts to develop strong, international research and education environments. Popular English-taught programmes have been established, sought by Danish as well as international students. Additionally, quality has increased because we have managed to attract international top researchers and lecturers. Everything to prepare Denmark for a world where problems as well as competition are and always will be global.
In this way it is safe to say that the development of an international, Danish education system has been characterised by due diligence, and we are now ready to reap the benefits of decades of investing in curious problem solvers with international competences. Today, the challenges and problems of the world are of a global nature we have not seen before. The pandemic and green transition are the most recent examples of challenges we cannot solve in Denmark alone but which require international outlook, understanding, collaboration and networking. This is where an international study environment plays a crucial role in creating employees who can help the business community and institutions handle this.
If Denmark has to reap the fruits of our long investment in education, we cannot squander this effort at the eleventh hour in an attempt to solve a problem of increasing SU expenses for European students by reducing the number of English-taught programmes.
Here are a few examples of what you gain from interacting with international study buddies on a daily basis: It may sound ordinary but first and foremost you really improve your English skills. Whether your mother tongue is Danish, German, Polish or Finnish, training your English skills during your studies makes you plug and play as a new graduate and helps you land your first job. We have to hold on to this.
At CBS, one in five students has an international background. It makes a difference – also to those who embark on a Danish-taught programme. International study buddies are also about diversity in practice and what you learn from it. One of the strengths of the Danish education system is learning at an early age to ask curious questions, challenge each other’s perspectives and together search for solutions, also to the pressing problems. We also develop these competences at university. With our international study buddies we gain insight into a global world, we draw on each other’s different backgrounds and we practice understanding the world in other ways than our own. We will need these competences the day we enter the job market. And thanks to our international study environment, we are well-prepared for this journey.
Therefore, we sincerely hope that future students will also have the opportunity to choose an English-taught programme and be part of an international environment, preparing them for a working life with global problems and international solutions.