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Residency rules confuse international researchers

Quite a few international researchers at AU are concerned by recent news stories about possible legal action against international researchers for giving external lectures. AU Talent Development has made a schematic outlining the basic rules.

Brooke Harrington does not work at Aarhus University.

Nonetheless, staff at AU HR and the Talent Development researcher mobility team have heard her name quite frequently over the course of the past month. A number of international researchers have contacted the administration in the wake of media coverage of the American economic professor’s case, which has has generated uncertainty about the rules on sideline employment for international researchers.

“We’ve heard from the administrative centres at ST and Health in particular that they’ve been getting a lot of enquiries. A number of international researchers also express frustration about the signals the rules are sending, which is practically the most regrettable thing about this. Because naturally, everyone agrees that Denmark needs highly qualified international researchers, and we want them to feel welcome,” explains Michael Winther, who is head of Talent Development, a unit which, among other functions, works with researcher mobility.

He explains that many researchers have been following media coverage of cases in which the Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has reported international researchers to the police for working as co-examiners or giving external talks, and have subsequently contacted their local HR partners to enquire whether they risk incurring legal sanctions themselves.

“It has come as a surprise to most researchers that the rules provide scope for these kinds of cases. And so it’s very positive that the issue is receiving attention, and it looks like amendments to the rules are on the way. In any case, I’ve noted that the ministers for integration and research as well as the prime minister have stated that they intend to work on a solution which can make life easier for researchers from non-EU countries who would like to participate in Danish society on equal terms as their EU colleagues,” explains Winther.

New rules are underway

However, he also points out that media coverage has also contributed to the confusion, because some of the cases which have been covered would not occur today:

“In the meantime, SIRI has accepted that serving as co-examiner for other universities is a part of any researcher’s job. So it’s no longer necessary to apply for a permit to serve as a co-examiner – in any case, as long as you are in Denmark under the researcher taxation scheme. But the rules are complicated, and I find it completely understandable that many researchers are unsure about them now.”

Winther explains that most cases can be clarified immediately, as long as you have the answers to two questions:

1)    Under what taxation scheme are you residing in Denmark?

2)    What is the nature of the sideline employment in question?


The mobility team has created an explanation of the rules in schematic form. As long as you know the answers to these two questions, the table will provide clarification of most cases.

Regarding work-related sideline employment as well as volunteer work in your private time, the rules will be different depending on your answers to the two questions above.

However, Winther also encourages researchers who are still uncertain about how the rules apply to them to contact mobility team member Inge Aachmann Pedersen.



See also the generic AU guide to rules regarding residency and work.