Denmark seeks EU help on Swedish student influx
Denmark wants a change to EU rules on open universities after it emerged that one third of students accepted in Danish medical faculties this year are Swedish.
The Danish science minister wants to raise the issue, which is also of concern in other member states, at the EU level.
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"It is clearly a problem that so many places are taken by the Swedish when we need them in Denmark," said science minister Helge Sander, according to Danish daily Politiken on Friday (28 July).
"I have to admit that the Nordic cooperation has failed in this regard and now we have to find a solution at the EU [level]," Mr Sander said.
According to EU rules, EU citizens have equal access to universities across the bloc.
The problem arises in countries where languages are the same or are similar.
Scandinavian students are able to follow studies in each others' languages, which is why Denmark has agreed with non-EU member Norway to put quotas on Norwegian students in Danish universities.
But such a deal is not possible with fellow EU member Sweden where the just 400 places for medical studies in the country lead to more than 1400 Swedish medical students going abroad – many of them to Denmark.
Austria and Belgium face similar problems
In Belgium, French students in particular come to Belgium to take advantage of cheaper education and easier access to medical studies in their own language.
In some areas, such as veterinary medicine, French students count for 86 percent of the total.
The minister for higher education of the French-speaking community in Belgium, Marie-Domenica Simonet, wants to limit the number of foreign students to 30 percent in fields with very high levels of foreigners from September 2006.
Meanwhile, Austria will cap the number of foreign students at its universities at 20 percent in a bid to restrict the number of German students accessing its medical faculties, despite a recent EU court ruling which declared earlier restrictions illegal.
The quota system will reserve 75 percent of places in the country's faculties for medicine and dentistry for Austrian students, while 20 percent of places will be for students from other EU countries and the remaining five percent will be filled up by non-EU nationals.
Austrian education minister Elisabeth Gehrer said earlier this year that the new quota system was compatible with EU law.