København Here We Come - Motives to Leave Sønderborg for Studies at a University in Aarhus, Odense & Copenhagen

Project: Research

Project Details


Denmark experienced since the 1990ies an increased depopulation in the rural and remote
areas leading to a regional polarisation. The Danish National Centre for Social Research
addresses this issue in a recently published research report on ‘Moves from Cities to Rural and
Remote Areas’ (Aner & Hansen, 2014). Their findings show, that the tendencies to move from
cities to rural and remote areas is influenced by the economic cycle. During a boom period the
moves from highly educated people to rural and remote areas is increasing. Their move pattern
is related to their age, family situation and experience on the job market. Especially those, who
finished their higher education recently, move to rural and remote areas to kickstart their career
and to achieve experiences on the job market (Aner & Hansen, 2014). However, the problem
remains: Rural and remote areas have difficulties to attract and to retain highly educated people
to ensure a sustainable economic growth.

Florida (2003) proposes with his 3T approach that cities have to embrace talent, technology and
tolerance to attract and retain the so-­called ‘creative class’ (talented and highly educated
people). This is the driving force behind successful cities and regions. First, economic growth is
fostered by innovations and the concentration of high-­technology and knowledge-­intensive
companies (technology) in a region. The second factor is the amount of creative jobs, which is
the potential of talents in a region. Tolerance, the third factor, represents the openness of a
society or region through which a wide variety of different personalities are attracted, which leads
to an exchange of new ideas. Universities play a central role in Floridas approach: They are
capable of attracting students, who are being educated to talented people. Furthermore,
universities generate new knowledge and ideas, that foster the technological development of a
region. Finally, university cities have a special, international flair, which is attractive for members
of the creative class (Florida, Knudsen, & Stolarick, 2010).

In the Sønderborg region most of the above mentioned factors are available to attract talented
people. There are high-­technology companies in the region offering creative jobs (e.g. Danfoss
A/S as a prominent example). A recent study on the location behaviour of students at the
University of Southern Denmark highlights that Sønderborg is perceived as a tolerant and open
city (Fietze, 2013, 2014). Furthermore, Sønderborg is a university city, where the University of
Southern Denmark (SDU) offers a variety of study programmes in the focus areas of engineering, business studies and border region studies. Nevertheless, young people from
Sønderborg rather want to relocate to Aarhus, Odense and Copenhagen to begin their studies at
a university in programmes they can start at the SDU in Sønderborg as well. The questions, why
young people choose to study in other cities rather than their home town, was addressed by
Thomsen (2014) in her bachelor thesis. This project is based upon the findings of this theses
and expands the research design to cover a broader scope of cities and larger amount of data to
acquire a deeper insight into the motives behind the intention to relocate.

On this background the projects aim is, to identify the motives, which are taken into account
when students choose to relocate to a different city to obtain their education (in particular
Aarhus, Odense and Copenhagen), even though it is possible to undertake a university
education in Sønderborg.

Layman's description

Effective start/end date01/12/201431/07/2015