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The Rules of Attraction

What´s it like to study in Denmark? And how are bright minds encouraged to study in Denmark?
The Rules of Attraction

Students at the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen

In this interview, the Director of the Danish Agency for International Education explains what makes higher education in Denmark attractive from an international perspective. The following is an excerpt of the interview which you can read in its entirety at

Mobility is of vital importance within education. As globalisation continues, education systems cannot afford to be insular. It is no longer sufficient for universities to attract the best people from within their national borders; they must now compete for the brightest individuals on the world stage.

One nation that understands the benefits brought about by effective student mobility is Denmark. The Danish Agency for International Education has three main functions: it is responsible for the recognition of diplomas and qualifications obtained in countries other than Denmark; it coordinates two community mobility programmes (the Lifelong Learning Programme and the Youth in Action Programme); and it promotes Denmark as an attractive international study destination.

Director General Anders Geertsen reveals to Public Service Review the ways in which the Danish Agency for International Education is working to bring the world's most gifted minds to Denmark's shores.

Why is it important for Denmark to attract the highest calibre of international students?
We live and work in a globalised world. You cannot do business, research or training without considering the international dimension. We have to learn with and from individuals from different nations – this is the only way to stay competitive in the modern world.

Why should international students choose Denmark?
We spend a lot of time looking at this issue. By talking to international students who do choose Denmark, we are able to better understand our unique selling points. Through this, we have discovered that Denmark is seen 
as an orderly and secure place to study – this seems to be a significant factor for many of our overseas students, particularly those from Asia.

I think that our biggest selling point is our ethos. We live by three important words: think, play and participate. Students tend to say, when they come to Denmark, that they find our methods unconventional. There is no professor doing his or her thing at the blackboard, expecting students to sit and take notes – we emphasise teamwork and participation. I believe that play is an important factor in our success; unless you have a degree of playfulness, you will not be capable of innovation.

Some of the international students that come to Denmark think that this is an odd way of doing things; initially, they do not consider there to be enough form or hierarchy between students and professionals. Everybody treats one another as if they are on equal terms, and this can cause confusion for some people at the beginning of their studies. However, when we return to them at a later date, nearly all of them consider ours to be a very engaging and fruitful method of teaching.

Why are science students important to Denmark?
Science is international, and in some ways, it always has been; nowadays, however, this is so much the case that it is impossible to create a competitive scientific environment without incorporating an international flavour. You need to attract the best students and professionals from other countries – this is simply the only way to be good enough.

I often ask universities about the importance of attracting first-rate science students, and I am frequently told that if you have the highest quality student body, you can attract the very best professionals. This is very interesting; one might assume that a high-level professor would choose a university where he or she has the best salary, or pays the lowest amount of income tax. Whilst universities must be financially competitive, it is also true that the best minds are attracted by other bright individuals. By encouraging the best science students to study in Denmark, we are able to maintain a highly effective teaching cohort.

How does your agency facilitate student mobility and participation?
Read full interview

What are the challenges involved in your work?
Read full interview

What are your upcoming priorities?
Read full interview


What´s it like to study in Denmark - from a students´ perspective?
Students who are interested in studying in Denmark would of course like to hear about it from international students who have already studied here.

On you can learn about what
international students think about studying in Denmark. You can also find personal video testimonials on what it is like to study in Denmark on YouTube.