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University Life in Denmark: Economy

Bennett is a Danish university student soon to begin his third semester of studying software.

Personally, I've always had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. That might be why I'm writing this article, to educate people far and wide of the inner workings of this here country. The country of Denmark, situated in the tiny Scandinavian corner of Europe.

So why don't we start with the basics?

Does Denmark Offer Free Education?

I won't be delving into the details of this question. It mostly depends on your current situation and whether or not you've finished an education within a certain amount of years. Short answer, yes.

In Denmark, all levels of education are completely free as it's all covered by our sky-high tax rates (which is a subject for an entirely different article). Not only is it free, but we, as students, are paid to be educated.

The Danish flag, Dannebrog

The Danish flag, Dannebrog

The SU System

SU, or "Statens Uddannelsesstøtte", as it's called in Danish, is financial support supplied by the Danish government to students above the age of 18 currently enrolled in high school or higher levels of education, for example, universities.

I'm currently studying software and am about to begin my third semester. As I've moved out of my parents' house and am in the process of getting a bachelor's degree, I receive 6,000 DKK a month before taxes are deducted (around 950 USD at the time of writing).

Because of my financial situation, I only pay taxes of a small amount of those 6.000 DKK and end up with about 5,400 DKK a month (855 USD).

Now, I do realize that these numbers originate from my particular situation, but I assure you that it's not much different from any other university student in the country.

Budgeting

To get a sense of how much this amount of money really is in comparison to daily life here, I've created an example below using my own budget.

An example of a budget

ServicePrice (DKK)Price (USD)

Rent (one room apartment with kitchen and bath)

2,650.- a month

420 USD a month

Electricity

170.- a month

27 USD a month

Insurance

200.- a month

32 USD a month

Other necessities (Netflix, Spotify, etc.)

300.- a month

50 USD a month

Total

3,320.- a month

529 USD a month

Now, of course, we have to keep in mind that we do not require health insurance in Denmark, as that too is covered by our absurd tax rates. This, among other things, significantly decrease the spending each month.

The point here is that I have around 2,000 DKK (317 USD) left each month for groceries, savings, and all the other bullshit people my age spend their money on (like a very unhealthy caffeine addiction, among other things).

That's more than enough, at least for me, to live for each month. The best part being the fact that I'm not required to find a part-time job to make ends meet. We can focus on our studies if we wish to do so, knowing that we can afford to live another day.

Is Danish Education Adequate?

So I've been complimenting the system here enough for now. Is the education offered actually of any value? Well, considering I've never really experienced anything else, I'm probably not the right person to ask, but according to US News Education (source), Aalborg University, which I attend, is ranked number 244 globally, out of a total amount of 1,639 schools. Top Universities (source) rate Aalborg University as number 305 out of 1,003.

These numbers aren't game-changing in any way, but I'd say it's pretty good when taking into account the living standards that we get to uphold at the same time.

What's The Catch?

Unless you count the sub-par quality of the schooling you have to go through before being able to attend a university, there really isn't any catch. I could mention our tax-rate for the third time, but to be completely honest, even that can be forgiven when comparing to the benefits it brings us as citizens.

From my point of view, Denmark is a fairly nice place to educate yourself, at least as a native. Throughout my short and unfinished university life, I've never struggled financially because of the way education is handled here. I've never felt in over my head, trying to balance my studies and a job. Though it goes without saying that a lot of people decide to focus on both, which is also completely fine, of course.

I think Danish society as a whole is what makes education like this possible. Without our taxes and our current healthcare system, the numbers would be quite different from the budget example I've supplied. Personally, I think we've struck a nice balance, where we as citizens have the opportunity to do what we want with our lives, while still contributing to society in a way that makes everything work out.

Final Words

I'm not trying to sell Denmark here. Neither have I been paid by the government (or any other instance for that matter) to write this. I believe we've done something incredible and I wish to share that fact. Whether you're reading this as a curious mind, a tourist, or even a fellow Dane who probably wants to punch me in the face by now, I hope you've enjoyed this journey into a very small fraction of Danish society.

I'm considering continuing like this, finding other aspects of Denmark to explore and convey to my lovely readers. So if you're still hungry for more, stay tuned and I might just deliver some day.

© 2020 Bennett Sloan