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Denmark Education Facts


Denmark has old folk traditions. As early as 1814, general education was introduced, but not compulsory schooling. This means that all children must be taught. But if the parents want, the teaching can be done at home provided it provides the same knowledge as the general school. However, very few children are taught at home.

Most children start at the age of six in the ten-year municipal elementary school (eleven years is optional). About one in six pupils attend one of the many private schools. These, according to an old liberal high school tradition, receive almost all their costs covered by public funds. On average, the free schools are only half the size of the municipal schools and the parents’ influence over the education is greater.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Denmark, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

The Freeschool Act originates from the ideas about education developed by the priest, poet and politician NFS Grundtvig in the 1830s. He argued that education could free the Danish farmer from poverty and oppression and that the people themselves would design the education so that it did not foster them as tools for the rulers. Grundtvig’s vision of folk high school, that is, adult education, was realized in 1844, and a large number of folk high schools and free schools were founded in Denmark and subsequently also in the rest of the Nordic countries.

More than 1.2 million Danes, or just over one fifth of the population, are students. Ten years after compulsory school, half of the pupils have completed vocational education, one third are still students and one sixth have just completed compulsory school or taken the student. Nearly half of the country’s 35-year-olds have a higher education.

A growing number of foreign nationals are studying in Denmark. In 2014, foreign students made up a tenth of the student body at the university level. Citizens from the Nordic countries and the EU do not need a residence permit to study in Denmark. For them, the education is free of charge and under certain conditions they have the right to receive Danish education support, which is the highest in the world (max. 70,000 Danish kroner per year).

The University of Copenhagen was founded in 1479. The University is also located in Aarhus, Odense (with faculties in several other cities), Aalborg and Roskilde. In addition, there are a large number of institutions with higher education. The business schools in Copenhagen and Aarhus as well as the Technical University of Denmark are the three largest.

Denmark uses 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for research and development, and 8.5 percent of GDP for education, of which 1 percent goes to the above-mentioned educational support. In the fall of 2015, the government announced that the state budget for higher education would be reduced by 2 percent per year over the next four years. The Government aims not least at the students ‘educational support, which now exceeds the salary costs for the teachers’ union.

  • Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Denmark in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.



Proportion of children starting primary school

98.7 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

11 (2014)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

13.8 percent (2014)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

13.8 percent (2014)



Planned terrorist acts are averted

Between Christmas and New Year, four men are arrested in Copenhagen and one man in Stockholm, suspected of planning a terrorist attack against the Jyllands-Posten editorial board in Copenhagen. Three of the arrested are resident in Sweden but have traveled to Copenhagen, where before the New Year they would attack the editorial staff with automatic weapons and “kill as many as possible”, according to the security police. The arrested have been put under surveillance by both Danish and Swedish security police. Justice Minister Lars Barfoed describes the terrorist plans as the most serious to date in Denmark.


New foreign law – a concession in the budget negotiations

In the draft budget for 2011, the Government of the Danish People’s Party meets on a number of issues. A new Aliens Act is introduced that contains a contentious points system for immigrants. The system means that well-educated, linguistic and professional people will be granted permanent residence permits faster. The government also agrees to the Danish People’s Party’s demands to investigate immigration costs. Immigrants should no longer have access to the same social service as Danes.


Overall plan to lift “ghettos”

The government is launching a comprehensive plan for how 28 immigrant-tight metropolitan suburbs should be lifted socially and economically. According to the government, these suburbs can be likened to ghettos where Danish norms do not apply. The plan includes increased police efforts against crime, but also stops for immigration of more immigrants, daycare for children who know poor Danish, restriction of family reunification for overseas residents, and more. The plan is supported by the Danish People’s Party, while the Left Opposition presents an alternative plan.


Failed attack on Jyllands-Posten

A Chechen-chased man from Belgium is arrested by police after he accidentally blasted a letter bomb inside a toilet in a hotel in Copenhagen. According to the police, the letter bomb would have been used against the Jyllands-Posten editorial staff in Aarhus.


The government presents a savings package

The government presents a savings package because the state must adapt to the European Monetary Union’s EMU requirement of a maximum budget deficit of 3 per cent. The package means a stop for state and municipal spending increases, which means that promised tax cuts cannot be implemented. It also means reduced income for the country’s pensioners.


First female foreign minister – and defense minister

Gitte Lillelund Bech from Venstre has been appointed in a large government formation as Denmark’s first female defense minister, while Conservative People’s Party leader Lene Espersen becomes the country’s first female foreign minister. In the new government, 9 out of 19 ministers are women.

The magazine apologizes to the Mohammed cartoons

The daily Politics apologizes for Muslims being violated by the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. Other media accuse the newspaper of betraying freedom of speech. With his apology, Politiken reaches settlement in disputes with eight Muslim organizations. The editor-in-chief of politics hopes that the apology will reduce tensions between the Danish media and the Muslim world.


New assassination attempt on the satirist

A man is shot to death by the police inside the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard’s residence in Aarhus. The man has tried to kill Westergaard, best known for a controversial Muhammad cartoon in the Jutland Post 2005.

Denmark Best Colleges and Universities