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Home“How to” DenmarkLiving in Denmark: a guide for non-Europeans part II

Living in Denmark: a guide for non-Europeans part II

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Last week, we covered the basics of moving to Denmark as a non-European. This time, I will be sharing knowledge about studying, working, being an intern, and what to do when your visa (or situation) is changing. 

Studying in Denmark 

Compared to Danish and European citizens, non-Europeans have to pay tuition to study in Denmark. The free range is from 22.000 to 28.000 DKK. However, there are different scholarships like Erasmus grants, the Erasmus Mundus/Joint Master’s Degree, and Fulbright Denmark. Even more, some universities in Denmark grant government scholarships for non-Europeans. The government scholarships are divided into two. Tuition waivers and grants cover living costs. The first one consists of exempting you from paying the cost of the study program, and the second one includes additional money for your expenses in Denmark. This type of scholarship, compared to the others, does not have an application process. If the university of your choice has a government scholarship, you, as a non-European, automatically apply when you make your normal application. 

I was one of the lucky ones to have a tuition waiver, and my experience was a little bit chaotic. I applied in February 2021 to Aalborg University and got the acceptance email in June 2021. Once I accepted their invitation, I was asked to pay for the full semester’s tuition. At this point, the “deadline” they put on their website for tuition waivers was over, and I had lost all hope of getting a scholarship. 

However, once I paid for my semester, a week before moving to Denmark (around August 2021), I got an email from the university announcing the big news: I was selected for a tuition waiver, and they would reimburse my initial payment. However, let me tell you that I did not ask or write in my motivation letter about the scholarship. Meaning that this type of scholarship is based on your achievement and motivation for a future career. Therefore, I suggest that all of you who want to apply focus your motivation letter on your educational and professional background, the skills you have learned, how the program you are applying to will add to your professional growth, how you see yourself in the future, and who you are outside of your studies and work. 

Danish institutions put a lot of focus on people who have done things outside of studying or working; for example, they look at volunteering, studying abroad, or traveling as a big plus. Let them know who you are as a professional and as a person. Emphasize the work you have done outside the classroom. It does not have to be something fancy. It can be a little contribution you have made to your society. 

Here, I will give you a list of the scholarships and grants you can get in Denmark:

  • The Danish Government Scholarships under the Cultural Agreements – these are scholarships offered to highly qualified exchange students who want to study the Danish language, habits, and culture or related subjects (e.g. Architecture, Design).
  • The Erasmus+ or programs – these are programs offered by the European Union in collaboration with universities and other institutions. The programs aim to encourage people to go and study abroad, explore and embrace different cultures, and develop both interpersonal and academic skills.
  • The Fulbright Programme – is only available for American students who enroll in a master’s or Ph.D. program in Denmark.
  • Scholarships offered by universities to non-EU/EEA citizens – these scholarships are funded by the Danish government. To see which university offers them and how/if you can apply, check the admission or funding/scholarship page on the university website.

You can also check out our portal to see over 70 scholarships available for Denmark (be sure to check if you as a non-European can apply)

Tip: remember to email the university you want to apply to; they can always give you the best information about scholarships and grants. 

Getting  a job as a student (or international) in Denmark 

As a non-European, depending on your visa you are entitled to work certain hours a week. As a student, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, meaning that your best options are part-time jobs. Even though Danish is the official language in Denmark, a lot of companies use English as their communication language, meaning that a lot of student jobs are available for students. The main platforms that you can use to search for a student job are LinkedIn, Indeed, and your university job bank. You can also join different Facebook groups where international people or recruiters promote part-time work.

 Now, I want to give you a recommendation. DO NOT work more than the time allowed on your visa. The Danish government is ALWAYS checking your income, and sometimes SIRI will do random checks on you and if they notice that you are getting paid too much they will ask for information from your employer and you. So just to avoid problems, keep yourself within the law. 

How much should I get paid as a student?

Officially, there is no “minimum” wage in Denmark. Your hourly pay is decided through a collective bargaining agreement between the union and the company. However, there is a non-written agreement that you can expect a minimum wage of about 110 coronas per hour. 

A couple of years ago, several restaurants, hotels, and companies were called out by newspapers for paying their international employees between 50 to 90 crores an hour. Which did not provide enough money for the student to cover rent, food, and transportation, (or for Europeans to have the required amount to get SU), forcing students to have more than one job. However, the government has created a blacklist for companies who are following these practices to prevent social dumping

My recommendation to you is to not accept less than 110 coronas, there are multiple part-time jobs for internationals. Take your time and do not risk overworking to be underpaid. Remember always to keep yourself within your allowed hours, you can always work full-time during June, July, and August. The allowed hours and a “minimum” paid will provide you enough for rent, food, and transportation, and leave you with money for fun. 

Tips to save money

  1. Check prices in the different supermarket magazines: Each supermarket in Denmark has its own magazine, it changes every week and adds new and good promotions every time. Before going to the supermarket, take a little time to check the promos, so you can get the best out of your money. You can find their magazines by typing the supermarket name and the word “avis”. 
  2. Use Too Good To Go: for those who have never heard of this app. Too Good To Go, is an app that aims to reduce food waste from supermarkets and restaurants. Meaning that these places at the end of the day, create packages of food to sell through the app with prices ranging from 39 DKK to 210 DKK. Is a good idea for getting groceries or any specific food you want from a restaurant you like. The food is always in good condition and is a good amount for the price you paid. 
  3. Go to second-hand stores: the best way to save money when buying furniture for your apartment or clothes for you is to go to second-hand stores (or Genbrug in Danish), each city in Denmark has at least one of them, and the quality of the items are nice. Some of the stores are run by the Red Cross, the Blue Cross, churches, or community centers. 
  4. Facebook marketplace: the gem of Denmark. If you come from Latin America, the Facebook marketplace may be a new thing for you, but Denmark is one of the best places to buy anything you want. It is easy, convenient, and good. Most of the time, the things you get there are good quality for a good price. So before going to IKEA, check the marketplace. 

Getting an internship 

In Denmark, internships are not paid, however, some companies pay up to 3000 DKK for your time with them. As I mentioned above, non-European students are allowed to work 20 hours, and this includes volunteer work or internships. Meaning that, because an internship in Denmark is considered a form of employment, non-EU citizens are required to have a work permit, even though you are not being paid. So,  if you get a full or part-time internship, you HAVE to apply for a temporary work permit to either work full-time at your internship place or be able to work on the side while you do your internship. This is because you will be exceeding your working allowed time. Be aware that this is something some universities do not know about, because Europeans are not asking for this. 

Therefore, once you have found a scholarship, apply for the temporary work permit (it will be given for the time you have your internship) so you avoid problems with SIRI. 

What to do after you have finished your studies 

As a student, you are granted the total years of your study program and some additional months or years for job seeking. Before 2023, students from non-European countries who were granted with a student visa were given the total years of their study program and 6 additional months for job seeking, with the possibility of extending this period, by applying to the “3 years seeking visa” scheme. However, after April 2023, the student visa comes with this additional 3 years, but without a full-time work permit. This means that after you have graduated, you need to apply for a work permit during job seeking. 

Nowadays, SIRI automatically grants a 3-year job-seeking period along with your study permit if the validity of your passport allows it,  you should, therefore, only apply for a job-seeking permit if:

  • The validity period of your residence permit as a student was shortened due to the expiry date in your passport,
  • You were granted a 6-month job-seeking period along with your residence permit, or
  • You have completed your educational program in Denmark after the prescribed period of study.

Both visas depend on each other, meaning that to have a work permit, you need to first be granted a 3-year job-seeking visa. However, you can apply for both at the same time, and they will be processed according to their importance. 

In addition to this visa, you can also apply to other schemes: 

  1. The Pay Limit Scheme: This scheme is specifically tailored towards foreign professionals who have a job offer with an annual salary above a certain limit (DKK 436,000 as of 2023).
  2. List: The Positive List is a list of professions in Denmark experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals. 
  3. Fast-Track Scheme: The Fast-Track scheme allows certified companies to bring foreign employees to Denmark swiftly
  4. Start-up Denmark: start-up Denmark is designed for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to establish a start-up in Denmark.
  5. Researcher: This category is for individuals who have been offered a job as a researcher by a Danish employer. This permit also allows the individual to work as a guest lecturer or to carry out sideline employment. 
Maria Fuentes
Maria Fuentes
I am 26 years old, and I am from Colombia. I am the Spanish editor of Last Week In Denmark. I have been living in Denmark for two years, and during this time I have learned a lot about the things you need to do to make your life easier. This has motivated me to create this guide for all my non-European fellows who may feel frustrated when trying to understand the Danish system.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hello Maria, I am Colombian and I’m currently studying the master’s degree in Civil Engineering at DTU, the master’s degree has 4 semesters and each semester has a cost of 56,250 DKK.

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