P r i m a r y a n d
s e c o n d a r y e d u c a t i o n
V o c a t i o n a l e d u c a t i o n
a n d t r a i n i n g
H i g h e r e d u c a t i o n
a n d l i f e l o n g l e a r n i n g
The Danish Education System
Master’s programmes (candidatus) 5
Bachelor programmes BSc/BA Professional bachelor programmes Academy profession programmes 4
12 STX HHX HTX HF Adult upper education Vocational Maritime
11 level course and training education education Egu 3
10 with EUX and training
General upper secondary education Vocational education and training etc.
Special needs education
Primary and lower secondary education
For a presentation of adult education, see page 10 1
International Standard Classification of Education (UNESCO).
Primary and lower secondary education
The public system School usually starts at 8 a.m. The young- larly. National computer-based tests have
The public municipal school, the er pupils finish at around noon or 1 p.m., been introduced in a number of subjects
Folkeskole, is a comprehensive, integrated and the older pupils finish at around 2 in forms 2 to 8. Progression to the next
school covering primary and lower sec- or 3 p.m. The younger pupils (6-10 years form is usually automatic. School-leaving
ondary education (ISCED 1 and 2) without old) may spend their leisure time in a examinations are taken in forms 9 and
streaming. municipal leisure-time care facility at 10 and the examinations are compulsory.
school, Skolefritidsordning (SFO), or at a Moreover, pupils in form 9 write a one
In the school year 2008/2009, 81% of all recreation centre, Fritidshjem. Both are week project assignment.
pupils in primary and lower secondary fee-based facilities.
schools attended the Folkeskole, 13%
attended private schools, 4% attended According to the Folkeskole Act, schools
the private residential schools, Efterskoler, must provide pupils with subject-specific Other possibilities
and 1% attended special schools. qualifications and prepare them for fur- Parents may choose a private school
Education is compulsory for ten years ther education. Moreover, it stipulates for their children. Private schools are
starting the year the child turns six. It is that schools should prepare pupils for self-governing institutions required
education itself that is compulsory, not their role as citizens in a democratic soci- to measure up to the standards of
schooling. ety. The Folkeskole builds on the princi- the municipal schools.
ple of differentiated teaching. Teaching
Apart from the compulsory forms 0 to is organised so as to strengthen and There are many different types of
9, the Folkeskole comprises an optional develop interests and qualifications while private schools and some are based
form 10. In the school year 2008/2009, catering for the needs of the individual on a specific philosophy, a special
53% of pupils attending form 9 also pupil. At the same time, it aims at devel- pedagogical line or religious belief.
attended form 10. oping cooperative skills among the pupils.
Continuation schools, Efterskoler,
The average number of pupils per class in Pupils are continuously evaluated. are private residential schools for
the Folkeskole is 20.2, while the figure for Teachers write individual learning plans pupils in forms 8 to 10. In addition
private schools is 16.7 (2008/2009). for the pupils which are updated regu- to normal subjects, emphasis in these
schools is typically on social learn-
ing and fields such as sports, music,
nature or ecology.
Most private schools receive a sub-
stantial state subsidy based on the
number of pupils in these schools.
General and vocational
upper secondary education
In Denmark, upper secondary education while 51% were enrolled in a vocational All four programmes prepare pupils for
programmes (ISCED 3), also referred to programme at 109 institutions. further studies and, at the same time,
as youth education programmes, can be develop the pupils’ personal and general
divided into: competencies. The programmes aim at
General upper secondary enhancing the pupils’ independent and
• General upper secondary education education programmes analytical skills as well as preparing them
programmes, which primarily prepare There are four academically oriented to become democratic and socially con-
for higher education. general upper secondary programmes: scious citizens with a global outlook.
• Vocational upper secondary education
and training programmes, which pri- • The 3-year Upper Secondary School Each of the education programmes has
marily prepare trainees for a career in a Leaving Examination (STX); its specific range of compulsory subjects
specific trade or industry. • The 3-year Higher Commercial that are common for all pupils taking the
Examination (HHX); programme. With regards to the STX,
In 2008, 241,000 pupils were enrolled in • The 3-year Higher Technical HHX and HTX, each school also offers a
upper secondary education programmes. Examination (HTX); and number of different specialized studies
Approximately 49% were enrolled in a • The 2-year Higher Preparatory programme (packages normally contain-
general programme at 149 institutions, Examination (HF). ing three subjects) and elective subjects
for pupils to choose between. The spe- secondary education STX programme ment with an approved company which
cialized study programme is of a longer which VET students can attend while offers training. The agreement can cover
duration than the basic programme. completing their VET programme. Not all or parts of the basic course, but is
all VET programmes will be able to offer com-pulsory for the main course.
With regards to the HF programme, this combination. The programme is to
pupils make their choices from among the be adapted so it fits each of the VET VET programmes are normally completed
electives offered by the school. programmes with regard to duration with a journeyman’s test or a similar
and subjects. EUX gives general access to examination testing vocational skills and
The curriculum and examinations must higher education. knowledge.
follow national standards and are subject The majority commence their VET pro-
to external evaluation. The curricula of Vocational Education and gramme with an initial basic programme
the HHX and the HTX differ from those of Training (VET) at a vocational college, but some students
the STX and the HF in the sense that the Vocational education and training (VET) choose to begin with a period of in-com-
HHX besides some general upper second- includes a vast range of programmes. The pany training before they enter the basic
ary subjects include financial and business duration varies from 1½ to 5½ years, programme. Also, students who prefer
subjects and the HTX technical subjects. the most typical being 3½ to 4 years. practical training to school attendance
VET programmes are sandwich-type can commence their vocational educa-
The STX and HF programmes are offered programmes in which theoretical and tion in a company which offers practical
by general upper secondary schools. practical education at a vocational college training. Also referred to as the ”New
This sort of school is called Gymnasium. (approximately 1/3 of the time) alternates Apprenticeship”. The student enters a
Business and technical colleges offer the with practical training in an approved training agreement with a company and
HHX and the HTX programmes, respec- company or organisation (approximately during the first year must acquire the
tively. Some schools are mixed schools 2/3 of the time). The dual training prin- same knowledge and qualifications as
offering various types of programmes. ciple ensures that the trainees acquire the students who have followed the basic
theoretical, practical, general and per- programme at a college. This requires
Admission requirements for the STX, sonal skills which are in demand on the flexible adaptation on the part of the stu-
HHX and HTX are a Leaving Certificate labour market. dent, the company and the college.
of the Folkeskole as well as certain sub-
ject requirements. For the HF, admission Vocational education and training consists
requirements are 10 years of basic school of a basic course and a main course. The
or the equivalent thereof. The STX, basic course is flexible in duration and
HHX and HTX are for those aged 16-19, depends on the individual pupil’s prior
whereas the HF attracts both young peo- qualifications. The typical length of a
ple and adults. The HF programme can be basic course is between 20 and 25 weeks
taken on a single-subject basis and is also followed by the main course, which is
taught in evening classes. based on the alternating principle. This
typically takes 3 - 3½ years, but can be
Starting from the school year 2010/2011, shorter or longer for certain programmes.
a new youth programme is offered to In order to complete the main course, the
young pupils - EUX. It is a general upper VET student must have a training agree-
There is a choice of 12 vocational clusters
which lead to the related vocational
• Motor vehicles, aircraft and other
means of transportation
• Building and construction
• Construction and user service
• Animals, plants and nature
• Body and style
• Human food
• Media production
• Production and development
• Electricity, management and IT
• Health, care and pedagogy
• Transport and logistics
Admission to vocational education and
training requires completion of compulsory
education. All programmes qualify trainees
for labour market entry as skilled workers.
In addition, some programmes can qualify
trainees for admission to certain types of
higher education programmes.
Basic Vocational Education programme is designed for each trainee
and Training (EGU) depending on his or her needs and inter-
A special option for young people in a ests. Trainees are offered individual guid-
difficult educational or employment situ- ance during the entire programme.
ation is the vocational basic training pro-
gramme (EGU). The EGU is an individually In most cases, the trainees finish their EGU
designed programme focused on a spe- after two years but it may be extended by
cific trade, or composed of elements from up to one more year.
A completed EGU gives access to employ-
The EGU alternates between school-based ment and also allows the trainees to con-
periods and periods of practical training in tinue in a VET programme.
one or more companies. The main focus
is on practical training and an individual
Production schools are schools for tions which will enable them to
young people under the age of 25 complete a vocationally qualifying
who have not completed a youth educational programme after leav-
education programme and who ing the production school. Pupils
belong to the target group of are offered individual guidance
production schools. The purposes on a day-to-day basis to support
of the production schools are to their efforts to clarify their future
enhance pupils’ personal develop- choice of education, training and
ment and to improve their future job. There are no examinations at
possibilities in the education sys- production schools.
tem and on the labour market.
There are around 90 production Production schools have continu-
schools in Denmark, often placed ous intake. Pupils typically stay
in small and medium-sized towns. for an average of 5 months;
Production schools are based on approximately 30% for more than
practical work in workshops, rang- 6 months. A pupil is entitled to a
ing from carpentry or metalwork maximum of one year at a produc-
to media or theatre workshops. tion school.
Teaching is aimed at providing
the young people with qualifica-
Danish higher education institutions use ment in middle-management positions. the application of theory to professions
the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) They combine theoretical studies with a and industries. The programmes include
for measuring study activities. 60 ECTS practically oriented approach in form of a period of work placement of at least
correspond to one year of full time study. work placement. Degree holders with a 30 ECTS. Most programmes give access to
There are four types of institutions offer- short cycle academy profession degree further studies in the same field.
ing higher education programmes, each can obtain a professional bachelor degree
with well-defined profiles and qualities. within the same field of study with a top- Universities
up programme of 90 ECTS. All Danish universities are research-inten-
Academies of professional sive institutions offering research-based
higher education University Colleges study programmes in all three cycles up
(erhvervsakademier) (professionshøjskoler) to PhD level. The bachelor degree (BSc/
Academies of professional higher edu- University colleges and specialised col- BA) is awarded after 180 ECTS and quali-
cation offer academy profession pro- leges offer professional bachelor pro- fies for a professional career and further
grammes of 90-150 ECTS in fields such grammes of 180-240 ECTS in fields such studies at second cycle level. Most stu-
as business, technology and IT. The pro- as business, education, engineering and dents choose to continue in a candidatus
grammes prepare the students for per- nursing. The programmes have a strong programme (MSc/MA) of 120 ECTS. They
forming practical, vocational tasks on an focus on professional practice and provide usually include one or two of the major
analytical basis and may lead to employ- students with knowledge of theory and fields of study of the bachelor programme.
Independent research activities and a Programmes and courses Other educational
master’s thesis of at least 30 ECTS are taught in English programmes
required. The candidatus programmes Danish higher education institutions offer There are educational programmes which
qualify students for a professional career more than 500 degree programmes (most do not belong under the mentioned head-
and for scientific work. The PhD degree of them at candidatus level) and over ings. These are for example programmes
is obtained after 180 ECTS and consists of 1,000 individual modules taught entirely within the police force, some programmes
research, participation in research courses, in English. For more information about within the area of defense and the mari-
teaching and public defence of a thesis. courses and programmes in English and time area, where admission requirements
courses in Danish language and culture, can differ between e.g. completion of
University level institutions please see www.studyindenmark.dk. compulsory schooling, VET programmes to
A number of university level institutions relevant experience.
are regulated by the Danish Ministry of
Culture and offer first, second and third
cycle degree programmes in subject fields
such as music and fine and performing
arts. The bachelor, master and PhD pro-
grammes at these institutions are awarded
after 180, 120 and 180 ECTS, respectively.
A higher education degree within theatre
or filmmaking is awarded after 4 years of
study (240 ECTS). Music Academies offer a
specialist degree of 2 to 4 years following
the master’s degree.
General access requirements to higher
education are one of the general upper
secondary school leaving examinations,
or comparable qualifications. Access may
also depend on specific requirements
such as a particular subject combination
in upper secondary school or a certain
level of grades. Admission to some par-
ticular programmes requires entrance
examination or submission of a portfolio
of artistic work.
Adult education and continuing training
Mainstream Education System Vocational Adult Education General Adult Education Non-formal Adult Education
Levels can not be indicated precisely
General and Vocational Training
Vocational Education programmes Basic Adult
Upper Secondary and CVT Education
Day Folk High Schools
Folk High Schools
Education Training (AMU) (GVU) (HF)
Danish as a second Language
Special Education for Adults
Primary and (AVU)
Education The model only shows levels,
(FVU) not extent of activity.
Light green = Mainstream Education System (column 1)
Light blue = Vocationally Adult Education (column 2)
Light red = General Adult Education (column 3)
Light yellow = Non-formal Adult Education (column 4) For a presentation of the ordinary, formal system, see page 2
Denmark has a long-standing tradition training. Generally, the syllabus and • General adult education (AVU, general
of lifelong learning. In 2008, nearly one examinations are adapted to the experi- education at lower secondary level).
in three of the population in the age ence and interests of adults and in some • Higher preparatory single-subject
bracket 25 – 64 years participated in edu- cases they may obtain recognition for courses (HF, general education at upper
cational activity, counting both publicly prior formal and non-formal learning. secondary level).
funded and workplace internal and pri- • Adult vocational training (AMU, the
vate education programmes and courses Adult courses leading to formal qualifica- main target group is unskilled and
in connection with employment or in tions qualifying for further education or skilled workers on the labour market
some form of leisure-time education. for the labour market include: who need to develop their competen-
cies. The programmes are developed
Education and training for • Preparatory adult education (FVU, and adapted according to the needs of
adults at all levels offered to improve basic literacy and the labour market).
Adult general education and vocational numeracy skills of adults who do not • Basic adult education (GVU, based on
education and training range from non- have sufficient qualifications to follow credit for former experience and quali-
formal education to qualifying general education and training or cope with fications of the individual participant
education and continuing vocational the demands of working life). supplemented with selected courses
from the vocational training programme • Master’s programmes (Master degree, of courses vary – from one week to up
leading to the same level and same final corresponding to the level of candidatus to almost a year – and are attended by
test as students who complete a corre- programmes). adults of all ages. They are non-qualifying
sponding youth education). courses meant to broaden general, social
• Further adult education (VVU, corres- Non-formal education and democratic competencies. Other
ponding to the level of academy profes- A wide range of different schools operate programmes of non-formal adult edu-
sion programmes). within the framework of non-formal adult cation are offered by Adult Education
• Diploma programmes (Diploma degree, education (folkeoplysning). The most well- Associations and Day Folk High Schools, or
corresponding to the level of bachelor known are the Folk High Schools, which can be university extension courses.
programmes). are residential schools providing general
and non-formal education. The length
In Denmark, a new grading system was the grading scale below. According to
implemented in 2006: the 7-point grading the rules governing the individual study
scale. In tests and examinations students programmes, the grades must be docu-
are given an assessment on the basis of mented by test, examination or leaving
7-point grading scale
Grade Description ECTS Old scale
12 For an excellent performance display- A 13
ing a high level of command of all 11
aspects of the relevant material, with
no or only a few minor weaknesses
10 For a very good performance display- B 10
ing a high level of command of most
aspects of the relevant material, with
only minor weaknesses
7 For a good performance displaying C 9
good command of the relevant mate- 8
rial but also some weaknesses
4 For a fair performance displaying some D 7
command of the relevant material but
also some major weaknesses
02 For a performance meeting only the E 6
minimum requirements for acceptance
00 For a performance which does not Fx 5
meet the minimum requirements for 03
-3 For a performance which is unaccept- F 00
able in all respects
Financing and ownership
The education system is financed by the charged at private schools and there is meter system, a comprehensive financing
state or the municipalities. Some institu- user payment for a number of adult edu- system based on per capita grants (cash
tions are self-governing, while others are cation programmes. per student) to institutions. The grants are
owned by the state or the municipalities. calculated primarily on the recorded num-
The table below illustrates the sources Taximeter financing ber of students passing examinations. The
of funding and forms of ownership for The central government’s system of financ- taximeter rate varies according to subject
selected groups of institutions. In addi- ing education and training is almost field and level of education.
tion to public financing, tuition fees are exclusively based on the so-called taxi-
State institutions State-funded/supported, Institutions funded Tuition fee
self-governing institutions by the municipalities
The Folkeskole x No
Free elementary schools x1 Yes
Continuation schools x 2
Gymnasium x No
Commercial colleges x No
Technical colleges x No
Maritime schools x No
Schools of marine engineering x No
SOSU colleges x No
Academies of professional higher education x No
Specialised colleges and university colleges x No
Universities x No
Schools of architecture x No
Academies of music x No
Adult education centres x Yes
Labour market training courses x Yes
Folk High Schools x Yes
Evening schools x Yes
Public contribution to free elementary schools: 85% of the State’s operational grant per pupil, excluding expenditures for pensions.
Continuation schools depend on a large degree of State funding. Pupils at continuation schools do have to pay a tuition fee but the amount varies – and is
subsidised by the State – depending on the parents’ income. Average annual tuition fee per pupil amounts to DKK 25,000 excluding state subsidies (2005).
Education grants and loan scheme
Through the State Educational Grant In combination with both types of grants, Foreign students are normally not entitled
and Loan Scheme (SU), the Danish state students can also make use of supplemen- to educational support, however there are
provides financial support to all Danes tary state loans. Around 50 per cent of all exceptions.
over the age of 18 enrolled in a youth or students make use of these loans.
higher education programme. There are The state also provides financial support
two main support programmes: Danish students can obtain support for for adults in adult education and continu-
• Pupils following a youth education studies abroad if the courses meet the ing training.
programmes same conditions for recognition as Danish
• Students enrolled in higher education courses and programmes. For more information, please see
Provision of high quality guidance services • 47 Youth Guidance Centres fessions, labour market conditions and
is important at all levels of the education (Ungdommens Uddannelsesvejledning) statistics. A national e-guidance centre
system. Starting with general career edu- focus on the transition from compulsory provides users with online guidance serv-
cation in form 1 of in the Folkeskole and to youth education. ice seven days a week. It is established in
delivering of guidance from form 7, pupils • 7 Regional Guidance Centres (Studievalg) relation to www.ug.dk
are gradually prepared for making their deal with the transition from youth edu-
first educational and vocational decisions. cation to higher education. For more information about career guid-
ance in the Danish education system, please
Two types of independent guidance cen- A national guidance portal – the see en.iu.dk/euroguidance/publications
tres provide guidance in relation to the “Education Guide”: www.ug.dk – provides
transitions from one level of the education comprehensive information on education
system to another: and training possibilities at all levels, pro-
The standard and quality of educational Private education institutions at primary which makes the decisions regarding
provision in the Danish education system and secondary level may operate without accreditation of all higher education study
are assured by a number of elements, any state approval. However, if they wish programmes. Decisions are made on the
including: for their pupils to be eligible for state study basis of accreditation reports prepared by
grants they must accept an accreditation accreditation operators:
• Common rules and guidelines (curricula) procedure. - For university study programmes under
specifying the aims, contents and duration the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation
of programmes and individual subjects. For all higher education programmes, and Higher Education, ACE Denmark pre-
• Testing and examination system, with the accreditation is mandatory and a precon- pares the accreditation reports.
use of external examiners. dition for attaining public funding. The - For higher education study programmes
• Ministerial approval of provision and accreditation system is based on the 2007 under the Danish Ministry of Children
inspection in a varying degree within the Act on the Accreditation Agency for Higher and Education and the Danish Ministry of
different education areas. Education. The Act aims to create a system Culture, EVA prepares the accreditation
• Quality rules, which have been intro- with a view to ensuring and documenting reports.
duced in a number of educational fields. the quality and relevance of higher educa- EVA also carries out systematic evaluations
• The Danish Evaluation Institute (EVA) and tion in the Danish educational institutions. within the area of early childhood education
the Accreditation Agency ACE Denmark, as well as evaluations of programmes, teach-
which both play an important role in the According to the Accreditation Act, the ing and learning in compulsory schooling
national system of quality assurance. Accreditation Council is the specific unit and in youth programmes.
For more information, please see
www.eva.dk and www.acedenmark.dk
Great importance is attached to the inter- high priority to have top-level educational The Copenhagen and Bologna processes
nationalisation of education and training institutions with strong academic environ- and the overall objective that Europe will
in Denmark. The objective is to prepare ments which can attract talented national become one large higher education area
pupils and students to meet the challenges and international students and researchers also play important roles in the develop-
of a globalised world by including intercul- and provide the foundation for a vibrant ment of Danish education and training. At
tural understanding and international com- societal development. institutional level, schools and institutions
petencies in the entire educational system. actively participate in international coop-
At governmental level, Denmark is an eration and exchange programmes, both
It is the aim of the Danish government to active partner in the educational coopera- within Europe and worldwide.
make Denmark a leading entrepreneurial tion of the EU, the Council of Europe, the
and knowledge-based society offering OECD, UNESCO and the Nordic countries. Internationalisation at all levels of the edu-
educational programmes which rank Furthermore, Denmark is a member of cation and training system is supported
among the best in the world and to create the ENIC Network (European Network and promoted by the Danish Agency for
the best possible opportunities for citizens of Information Centres) and the NARIC Universities and Internationalisation – an
and businesses to realize the vision about Network (National Academic Recognition agency within the Ministry of Science, Inno-
Denmark as a network society. In order to Information Centres). vation and Higher Education. Please read
face the challenges of globalization, it is of more about the Agency at www.ui.dk.
Education in a knowledge society
Education for all
Provision of high quality education at all • Project work Science, Innovation and Higher Education
levels is essential to ensure competitive- At all levels of the education system, with the core tasks of
ness in today’s global society. Thus, Danish pupils and students attend classes, how- • Creating optimum conditions for the
education aims to ensure that all young ever, they also carry out project work, university sector and fostering know-
people acquire knowledge and competen- either on an individual basis or in small ledge in research, education and public-
cies which will qualify them to take active groups. Interdisciplinary activities are also sector services.
part in – and to contribute to the further an integrated part of Danish education. • Contributing to strengthening
development of – the knowledge society. Denmark’s position in global society by
Education is open to all and generally free Facts & figures promoting internationalisation of study
of charge. Other characteristic features of • Population: 5.4 million (2010). programmes, intercultural understan-
the Danish education system include: • Percentage of a year group completing ding, integration and a global outlook.
a youth education programme: 84.4%
• High standards (2008). The Agency is the national agency for
The quality of Danish education is assured • Percentage of a year group completing two EU education programmes, Lifelong
in many ways. It is mainly regulated and a higher education programme: 46.6% Learning and Youth in Action, as well
financed by the state and all public edu- (2008). as for other similar programmes, inclu-
cational institutions are approved and • Percentage of a year group of women ding Nordic and Danish education pro-
evaluated on an ongoing basis. completing a higher education pro- grammes. The Agency is also the central
• Lifelong learning gramme: Approximately 55% (2008). institution responsible for assessment
Lifelong learning is a key principle in • Percentage of a year group of men and recognition of foreign qualifications.
Denmark. The idea goes all the way completing a higher education pro- Furthermore, the Agency is responsible
back to the 19th century Danish clergy- gramme: Approximately 38% (2008). for the promotion of Denmark as a study
man and philosopher N.F.S. Grundtvig, • Percentage of total national expendi- destination.
who argued that a prerequisite for ture spent on education (incl. SU
active participation in a democratic grants): 15.6% (2009).
society is education for all citizens on a Further information
• The Danish Agency for Universities and
lifelong basis. For more facts & figures, please see Internationalisation www.ui.dk
• Active participation http://www.e-pages.dk/uvm/26/. • Study in Denmark
Treating pupils and students as inde- www.studyindenmark.dk
• The Ministry of Children and Education
pendent people with a right to form The Danish Agency www.uvm.dk
their own opinion and a duty to partici- for Universities and • The Ministry of Science, Innovation and
pate actively in discussions is a matter Internationalisation Higher Education www.fivu.dk
• The Ministry of Culture www.kum.dk
of course in Danish education. is an agency within the Danish Ministry of
Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalisation, 2011
Published with support from the European Commission.
Photos: Colourbox, Møldrup Skole.
Layout and DTP: Faust Dyrbye a/s
Ministry of Science, Innovation
and Higher Education