Education - September 2023

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September 2023

At DTU one in three students are internationals

- Pages 6-7

Photo: DTU

Danish makes your life easier

How often do you rely on Google Translate to get around in Denmark? If you are new here and do not speak Danish, a quick trip to a nearby grocery store can give you a reality check.

After a couple of grocery runs, your mind will remember the frequently bought items. Yet, nine out of ten times, the cashier will ask if you want a receipt in Danish. It goes so fast that you’re left browsing for a couple of seconds.

Good News - it gets easier to understand the cashier when it becomes a routine, but it may require time and effort to shift from “Yes/ No Thank you” to an effortless “Ja/Nai Tak” or, more politely, “Ellers tak.”

As an expat living in Denmark, “it is essential to learn Danish. It will help you in practical and personal matters, such as getting medical assistance, landing a job, and acquiring a permanent residence,” Olga Kudryavtseva, 36, a Russian Biomedical scientist at Copenhagen University, said.

She came to Denmark in 2009 and acquired a Ph.D. in Medicine from Aarhus University, where she taught as an Assistant professor.

“Learning Danish made it possible for me to make a career in Denmark or get a teaching job at the university,” she added.

This is a relatable story for many internationals in Denmark who came to the country for educational pursuits and eventually made it their home.

“It has been extremely important to learn Danish. It has opened a lot of doors, culturally, socially, and professionally.” said Steph Höglund, 27, a Swedish Filipina currently working

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Olga Kudryavtseva, 36, a Russian Biomedical scientist at University of Copenhagen 

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According to two internationals, Danish is an essential skill if you want to live and work in Denmark
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as a project and communications coordinator. She came to Denmark in 2017 for a master’s degree.

“Now that I am fluent in Danish, I don’t feel any language barriers. I don't have any limits when it comes to attending and interacting with people at events or meetings.”

“Learning Danish was not a linear process for me. I did three modules out of six and took a break for a couple of years because I went to work abroad,” Steph Höglund says.

“I returned to Denmark in 2019, during the pandemic, and started language school. In three years, I reached the C1 level, Studieprøve, required to obtain higher education in Danish. This allowed me to look for better work opportunities since my contract was nearly ending,” she added.


While learning Danish for more opportunities in Denmark is crucial, it’s also important to know that everyone has a different pace. Prior knowledge of Germanic languages like English, Swedish, or German is also helpful in establishing stronger foundations for Danish.

“Thanks to Swedish, I already knew some basics of Danish,” Höglund said..

Pronouncing words in Danish may seem like a herculean task at first. Especially remembering the pronunciation of some letters. Where “J” sounds like “Y” and “D” sounds like “L.” If you would ask a Dane about this, it might be hard for them to understand but internationals know these hardships.

Olga Kudryavtseva suggests that the best way to be fluent in Danish is to speak in it as much as possible.

“The best way is to hear how Danes speak and try to repeat it. Also, record yourself and assess your progress,” she said.

“Expats will always have an accent but this should not stop you from speaking Danish,” she added.

Almost every time someone initiates a conversation in Denmark, they expect you to understand and speak Danish. If you exhibit otherwise, “Danes will quickly switch to English, if they see you struggling in Danish but the best way to overcome the struggle of speaking Danish is to continue in it.”

According to Steph Höglund, learning Danish requires commitment, which means going to class, doing the homework plus some self work.

“You should not go to the language school if you don't have time to put some extra work outside of the lessons. We're all adults and no one can really force us to do homework. But I think learning Danish requires a certain level of discipline and motivation. It is as easy as listening to the radio or watching a Danish series on Netflix,” she said.

“If your aim is to speak Danish at a high level and maybe work in the Danish language, then discipline and routine will get you there.” 

Tips: How internationals can learn Danish

Register for online classes before moving to Denmark.

Take language classes in Denmark.

Do some more voluntary homework.

Listen to Danish radio and podcasts for pronunciations.

Watch Danish shows.

Make a fool of yourself and speak in Danish as much as possible.

Make it a part of your daily routine.

If you take a break, start again but be consistent.

Be committed and disciplined.

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 4
Steph Höglund, 27, a Swedish Filipina working as a project and communications coordinator  Photo: Private

Join the cool crowd

Sign up for a Danish course at Studieskolen. We offer free Danish Education as well as private classes that will quickly have you speaking Danish. Where and how you use it – well, that’s up to you. Read more about your possibilities at

At DTU one in three students are internationals

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is one of the most reputable institutions in the country, known for its academic excellence, research, and industry connections. Its commitment to innovation and sustainability makes it a highly popular choice for students in Denmark interested in pursuing technical and scientific fields.

DTU encompasses multiple campuses and research facilities throughout Denmark. Its largest and main campus is located in Lyngby, a municipality in Copenhagen. It has about 5,000 students, including undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students across various academic programs in fields such as engineering, technology, natural sciences, and more.


Professor Anders O. Bjarklev, President of DTU, explains that “today, at least one out of three students at DTU are internationals.”

”Some 20 years ago, the university’s management decided that if we want to position ourselves as a leading technical university, it should not just be on a national, but an international scale,” he said.

According to him, DTU currently has 5,000 bachelor's and master's students, and almost half of them are not Danish. Moreover, DTU sends about 700-1000 Danish students on exchange to different countries yearly.

DTU also offers a wide range of programs in English, making it accessible to international students and further diversifying its student body. This international environment appeals to many Danish students who want to experience a global perspective.

“One of our biggest education programs in bachelor's is in English, while all the master’s programs are in English, which is quite unusual for a university in Denmark.”

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 6
DTU has about 5,000 bachelor's and master's students, and almost half of them are not Danish  Photo: Vibeke Hempler
The Technical University of Denmark is a place where, on a regular day, you will hear many more languages than Danish. With one in three students being internationals, this university has become a popular choice for them. This is how they did it


“We are happy to receive more and more expat students every year because they create a diverse student environment within our university, which is also beneficial for Danish students who cannot travel during their studies. Due to such an environment, there is still a possibility to establish networks, make friends, and gain knowledge about the world,” he continued.

Anders Bjarklev believes “it is essential for a small country like Denmark to open its eyes to the different ways of living in the world. How we are used to doing things here is not necessarily the best or the most preferred.”

“It’s not just Danish or English; you will hear a lot of languages in the corridors, classrooms, cafeterias, labs, and other places of DTU. I have myself picked up few words of Spanish and taught words in Hindi and Marathi (Mumbai’s language) to my Danish friends,” says Shubhham Sudesh Choudhari, 23, from India, currently doing a Master’s in Transport and Logistics from DTU.


Despite having many international students, the university's President confirmed that they never advertised in any of its 114 nationalities.

“What we do is have a strong collaboration or partnership with several preferred universities worldwide. Through exchange programs, we get to know their students and staff, and they get to know ours. We are also part of the Nordic Five Tech University Alliance and EuroTech Universities Alliance,” says Anders Bjarklev.

The University emphasizes that students are treated well. When they return home, students are encouraged to tell their family, friends, and colleagues about DTU. It means more international applications.

About 40 percent of DTU’s former expat students still live and work in Denmark.

“They're probably fully integrated in Danish society. We want to educate more Engineers and technical students who can benefit the Danish and other societies,” says Anders Bjarklev.

DTU gives about 100 fully-funded merit-based scholarships to international students in different fields every year.


The volatile financial situation in many countries makes it hard for students to finance their studies and life in Denmark. Due to inflation and other economic factors, students from third-world countries mostly face this issue. The devaluing of their home currencies makes the exchange

rates high. Even a large sum of money back home is insufficient for their finances in Denmark.

Expat students mostly have a simple lifestyle. They mostly prefer university accommodation, which is cheaper than renting independently. Despite keeping the finances low, a part-time job is a must.

DTU provides international students with jobs on campus. Shubham Choudhari, a master’s student from India, also works part-time at the university's international department, which has greatly helped him with his expenses.

“Considering that non-EU students must pay fees to study at DTU, it can easily get costly. I think Denmark, in general, is also quite expensive. When I came here for the first time, I spent my parent's money, but now that I'm doing a student job, which allows me to have my own money and manage my finances well.”

Shubham Choudhar recalled that despite being expensive, he chose Denmark for his master’s degree over the Netherlands and the UK because DTU’s Transport and Logistics program was “unique,” and through electives, it allowed him also to study business and management courses.

Besides this, DTU provides its students the opportunity to collaborate with various companies and organisations, both in Denmark and internationally. Allowing them to do internships, collaborative projects, and cooperative education programs where the students can do paid work with different companies in their field of study.


Irene Maria Rubio Mancebo, 26, from Spain, currently doing a Masters in Sustainable Energy at DTU, works part-time on campus. She suggests that students should be open to new opportunities.

“Almost everyone here speaks English, and that is something amazing. As students, you will have a lot of job opportunities since the university hires many student helpers. So be ready for it and be open-minded,” she said.

“DTU does not differentiate between Danish and expat students. If you apply for a student job and do not get one, it does not mean it is because you’re an expat. You might not be the most suitable person for that role. In all aspects, you can expect to be treated equally as this university,” Irene Maria Rubio Mancebo added. 

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 7
Professor Anders O Bjarklev, President of DTU  Photo: Steen Brogaard

“There is a significant focus on teamwork”

In Denmark, a Ph.D. program typically lasts three years. According to the University of Copenhagen, you must have completed a five-year master's program in the same or a closely similar field, or you must possess some comparable credentials to qualify for this.

The flex procedure, which begins 12 months into a Masters program, is another alternative. You can also begin it immediately after receiving your Bachelor's degree.

A Ph.D. is given in recognition that the recipient has finished doctoral studies. They have successfully defended a doctoral thesis in a public viva, have shown the ability to independently manage a scientific project using methods appropriate to the subject, and shared the research according to international standards for doctorates.


“During a Ph.D. in Denmark, there is a significant focus on teamwork during hands-on exercises, project work, and collaboration with companies,” Robert Bayer, 25, from Slovakia said.

He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Data Science at the IT University of Copenhagen.

“They push towards getting your hands dirty with work, not just reading textbooks and research papers,” Bayer said.

“It is a full-time job, from nine to five. During the day, you either teach, do your own research, or supervise other students. Ph.D’s also receive a salary starting from 30 thousand DKK. It mostly depends on a candidate’s work experience after receiving a master's degree.”

Many ways are used around the world to apply for a Ph.D. position. In Denmark, senior researchers receive grants for conducting their research. A grant proposal is prepared in which the researchers give an estimated budget for conducting the research and their requirements for a staff, for instance, one PhD student and a Postdoc.

Subsequently, job postings are created on university websites and other job-seeking platforms. The students can directly apply for these positions.

“I worked as a research assistant for my current Ph.D. supervisor. She was already aware of my potential, which was the biggest advantage in my application,” Bayer said.


The process to apply for a Ph.D. position in a Danish university is similar to applying for a vacant position in a company. Only the most suitable candidate who checks most boxes is considered for the role.

“When you are preparing the application it is crucial to show your interest in the research topic. It is also important to have some experience in a relevant research field. Having some relevant academic publications can make your application an edge,” Bayer explained.

On the other hand, students who apply for Ph.D. positions in Denmark from overseas might bear the grunt of Denmark’s sublime ranking system. Denmark has a 7-point grading scale - running from -3 to 12. 

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 8
An international student shares his tips on how to get a Ph.D in Denmark
Robert Bayer is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Data Science at the IT University of Copenhagen  Photo:PR

Moving on to gymnasium

Upper secondary education typically starts at the end of full-time compulsory education and caters for students aged 16-19. Unless a private school is chosen, it is free of charge.

At present there are more than 15 international uppersecondary schools in Denmark offering the International Baccalaureate (IB). Students can take several different routes at this level and there are four academically-oriented programs available.


The STX and HF programs consist of a broad range of subjects in the humanities, natural science and social sciences, whereas the HHX program focuses on business and socio-economic disciplines, in combination with foreign languages and other general subjects.

The HTX program is focused on technological and scientific subjects, in combination with general subjects.

Each of the programs has a range of compulsory subjects. Additionally, in STX, HHX and HTX, each school offers a number of specialised studies packages normally containing three subjects and offers elective subjects for students to choose between. In HF, students choose from among the elective subjects offered by the individual school.


To be admitted to one of the three-year upper secondary education programs (STX, HHX, HTX), students must have completed nine years of Danish basic education or have received corresponding teaching and have taken the primary and lower secondary school compulsory final examination.

For HF, a student must have completed ten years of Danish basic education and have taken examinations in Danish, English, mathematics, a second foreign language (French or German) and physics/chemistry.

If for some reason a student has not taken the required examinations for admission to STX/HHX/HTX or HF, an admission test can also be taken. Students who have not attended a Danish school can be admitted following a concrete assessment as to whether their qualifications correspond to those required by students who have attended a Danish school. They may also be required to take an admission test. 

Choice Of Four

The 3-year Upper Secondary School Leaving Examination (STX)

The 3-year Higher Commercial Examination (HHX)

The 3-year Higher Technical Examination (HTX)

The 2-year Higher Preparatory Examination (HF)

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 9
When children finish elementary schooling at the age of 15-17 there are different roads to travel on the education trail

Guide: Master your future

The Copenhagen Post’s step-by-step guide to higher education in Denmark is an introduction to some of the things you should consider

Denmark has an excellent range of choice with programs taught in English 

Denmark has an excellent range of choice with programs taught in English – especially at master’s level. And with thousands of international students in Denmark, you certainly won’t be the only international.


Some universities specialise in specific fields whilst others offer a variety of programs. Within the Copenhagen area alone you will find several institutions within a reasonable commuting distance, although it is also not unheard of for Copenhagen-based students to travel to University of Southern Denmark in Odense. Whilst all of the major universities offer postgraduate programs taught in English, the same option for undergraduate programs could sometimes be described as limited.


If you plan to stay in Denmark or not, you should investigate how you will

be able to apply your studies once you have graduated. The Danish job market is competitive and rather keen on overt compatibility between your studies, experience and the role you may be applying for.


Most universities will direct your application to the same online portal: ‘STADS’. This is operated by the Ministry of Education, not the universities. You should register and obtain a log-in as soon as possible. Via STADS you will select the university and study program from a list to create a new application. The specific documents required for an application will vary depending on the school and program requirements. Furthermore, do not leave it until the last minute to send an application – deadline days are notorious for online queuing and portal failure. In fact, for September admissions, try to apply by March. For schools that operate a second February, intake will often expect applications by mid-October. Once you are enrolled and are studying, you will continue

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 10
Photo:Bjarke MacCarthy/CBS

to use STADS to view grades, apply for exams and carry out any other administration.


Note that non-EU citizens are required to pay tuition, and the amount varies greatly depending on the institution and the program of study. International EU students should look for part-time work in order to receive financial support. Some may be entitled to State Education Support (SU) when studying. There are a number of different ways that you may qualify, and these generally fall under two categories: Equal status according to Danish rules and Equal status according to EU law. The typical stipulation to be aware of as an EU student is the ongoing requirement that you must be working part-time, 10-12 hours per week, and at least 43 hours per month, for which you will need a CPR number. Universities usually have an SU office that can help you. Visit to find out more.


Join an a-kasse while you are still a student. If you don’t have a job immediately after graduation, you can receive financial support whilst you apply for positions. Many Danish students also join a union while studying. These are very common in Denmark and your background will dictate which one you should join. Your union can help negotiate terms of employment and advise you on matters such as salary. As a student, you will receive a discounted rate of membership. 

Danish universities

University of Copenhagen (KU)

Located in: Copenhagen Web:

Aarhus University

Located in: Aarhus

University of Southern Denmark (SDU)

Located in: Odense (primarily) Web:

Aalborg University

Located in: Aalborg and Copenhagen Web:

Roskilde University (RUC)

Located in: Roskilde Web:

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)

Located in: Frederiksberg Web:

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Located in: Lyngby, Ballerup and Risø Web:

IT University of Copenhagen (ITU)

Located in: Copenhagen Web:

The Copenhagen Post | CPHPOST.DK September 2023 : Member of UNESCO Associa ed Schoo s Uni ed Nat ons Educat ona Sc ent fic and Cu tura Organ za on
Photo:Thomas Hjort Jensen


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