While Corona is getting under control in Denmark and more businesses are opening but it might be the start of another epidemic for immigrants in Denmark. It has certainly started for European students as Blanka Papp, an EU student received a bill of DKK 52,866 from education authorities in Denmark after she lost her job amid corona crisis.
EU students in Danish educational institutions can be eligible for Denmark State Education Support called Statens Uddannelsesstøtte (SU) if they show equal status to Danish citizens under the EU laws. They can show equal status by working 10 hours per week for a period of consecutive 10 weeks while they are studying in Denmark. In case they could not show continuous 10 weeks work, they will be told to return back all the SU money.
Blanka Papp, 24 years old Hungarian, is a fashion design EU student in Herning, Denmark. She came to Denmark in 2015 for work and study. She started her studies again in August 2019 that was when she became eligible and started getting SU money. Everything was going fine with her studies, work and SU until corona crisis started hitting Denmark.
Blanka was working in a restaurant in Aarhus and was quite happy with her employer and colleagues. Although the restaurant industry was already hit by corona crisis since the mid of February but It got worse when on 11th of March PM Mette Frederiksen announced the complete lockdown. Since 13th March she is at home as her work place is locked due to corona lockdown. At the end of March, she got a letter from SU authorities that she has to return all the SU money back as she could not fulfil the 10 hours work per week rule. She than send a detailed email to SU authorities explaining her situation as how the corona lockdown has stoped her from work.
Despite all the explanations, on 14th April, Blanka got a letter from SU authorities along two bills of DKK 52,866 which she has to pay by 8th of July, 2020.
I have been living in Denmark for almost 5 years and I have been working and studying these years. I have respected every law and followed the Danish way of life. But this will be a shock for me if I have to pay 52,000 kr while I am still a student plus jobless says Blanka. I feel it is injustice and to be honest I can not pay 52,000 kr. as I do not have any, I am still a student. I am worried as how to manage my rent after I lost my job and on top of that not only my SU is stopped but I am told to pay back over DKK 52,000. That will surely bring me on roads says Blanka Papp.
Understanding, fairness and kindness can make it work
There are probably thousands of such cases where EU students are told to pay back SU money though they have followed the law by staying home after the lockdown. The solution can be quite simple if Danish government wants to give a relief. As government has announced to pause 225 hours of work per year rule for Danish national getting cash help from March to June, and suspended the handshake requirement for new citizens during the corona crisis, similarly work and income requirements for Non-EU workers and 10 hours work rule for EU students can also be waived for the time being.
Blanka Papp and thousands of such EU students will only have a peace of mind if this rule of 10 hours work per week is paused for the time of this crisis else thousands of EU students will have to face severe consequences.