Foreign academics fear discrimination in Denmark

Overseas scholars use survey to warn of hostile political rhetoric against immigrants

June 20, 2018
ARoS Aarhus Art Museum
ARoS Aarhus Art Museum

A sizeable minority of overseas researchers at one of Denmark’s leading universities believe that they do not have the same chance of winning permanent jobs or funding as Danes, while many also have concerns about hostile Danish political rhetoric towards foreigners.

The results are “worrying”, according to an academic who helped to survey staff at Aarhus University about their careers.

A survey of about 1,100 foreign staff at Aarhus revealed that 44 per cent believed that international staff did not have the same access to permanent positions as Danish academics. Thirty-two per cent said that they thought access was equal.

Thirty-nine per cent said that foreign staff had a worse chance of winning external funding, compared with 36 per cent who said that their chances were equal.

Many respondents also used the survey to voice their dissatisfaction with the country and its political focus on immigrants, according to Thomas Trøst Hansen, a PhD student at Aalborg University, who conducted the survey in collaboration with Aarhus and the Danish Council for Research and Innovation Policy.

Writing in Forskningspolitikka Norwegian higher education policy outlet, he warned that the figures were cause for concern, and indicated that satisfaction among overseas academics may have fallen since they were surveyed nationally in 2011.

The Aarhus survey adds to concerns that Denmark is becoming a more hostile environment for overseas academics. Last year, an American academic at Copenhagen Business School revealed that she was being fined about €2,000 (£1,753) for having given lectures outside her university and, in doing so, inadvertently breaching strict visa rules. Thirteen other foreign scholars were thought to be facing similar fines for activities such as external PhD examination.

The case caused a political row, with Universities Denmark warning that the cases sent an unwelcoming signal.

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