What to expect pursuing an English-taught degree in Denmark.
Text: Skyler Bentley Hall
Pursuing an English-taught degree at a Danish Business Academy or University College is an attractive offering for internationals, but students face a new reality for the next application cycle. Take a moment to scroll through websites such as KEA Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, University College of Northern Denmark, UCL University College or VIA University College, and you will see the disappointing announcement published on 25 June. “A political majority has reached an agreement which means that all Danish university colleges and academies - with a few exceptions - are no longer allowed to admit students on English-taught programmes from September 2022.”
One of my American clients was primarily impacted by this recent development. After several months of designing an architecture portfolio, visiting institutions in Denmark, speaking with students, and preparing an optimal profile, Gabriella will need to revise her choices. Keen to study a Professional Bachelor’s in Architecture Technology and Construction Management (ATCM), these schools offered a unique alternative. Gabriella was hoping to connect with her Danish roots and study an English-taught architecture programme while learning Danish.
Prior to the news being released, we met Alexander Myers, a creative and ambitious student studying ATCM at VIA University College in Aarhus. Born and raised in California, Alexander has dual US Danish citizenship, and like Gabriella, he was keen to emigrate to Denmark. Alexander is thriving in the programme and was kind enough to share his insights.
Teaching and learning
University Colleges like VIA offer a less traditional study option for internationals, and most degrees give graduating students a Professional Bachelor’s, hands-on education with internships built in over three and a half years. Alexander explains that the education and learning experience is partly taken in groups, allowing students the freedom to structure their work and semester with minimal tests or exams. In addition, teachers encourage independence, allowing students to find their own knowledge while working collaboratively with peers.
Language of instruction
While ATCM is currently offered as an English-taught course, Alexander pointed out that some materials are strictly in Danish. In addition, most regulations and rules students need to know are according to Danish standards, which requires extensive research. Finally, Alexander was upfront that the language barrier can be a reality when securing an internship since many companies are hesitant to recruit students without Danish proficiency.
One advantage of studying ATCM is the 20-week internship, a core part of the programme. Alexander secured an internship at CF Møller Architects in Aarhus, and while being involved in multiple tasks and projects, he has worked alongside ATCM majors, gaining experience in landscaping. Specifically, Alexander models surrounding landscapes around buildings, ensuring correct slopes of the terrain. This experience has been invaluable for him, applying skills from class and potentially securing full-time employment in Denmark.
We have been working with international students on full degree English-taught programmes since 2004, and it has become an important part of the university’s DNA. It is, therefore, completely unbelievable for us. International students bring so much value to our community in many important aspects, during their studies, as well as when they graduate.
Fortunately for Alexander, his story is a successful one. However, the future looks uncertain for internationals seeking a similar bachelor experience. Institutions such as VIA will discontinue these meaningful degrees or will offer the course in Danish only. One school I reached out to was devastated by the news, “We have been working with international students on full degree English-taught programmes since 2004, and it has become an important part of the university’s DNA. It is, therefore, completely unbelievable for us. International students bring so much value to our community in many important aspects, during their studies, as well as when they graduate.”
Limiting English-taught programmes is bound to impact on recruitment and retention of international talent in Denmark. The Danish government has allocated approximately 650 places for English-taught degrees in 2022, and more cuts may be on the way. Stay tuned in the coming months as we follow this story.