Tuition and all major schooling activities are free as it is financed through the general taxes. Tuition is only charged in private schools.
The Danish education system is organised in four levels:
1. Preschool starts at the age of 6 after kindergarten
2. Basic school (primary and lower secondary school) from the age of 7 to 15-16
3. Youth education (upper secondary education) from the age of 16-17 to 18-19
4. Higher education (colleges and universities) from the age 19-20
Pre-school socializes children and prepares them for their entry into the basic school one year later. Though not compulsory, most children attend preschool class. Hence, for a majority of the children, school effectively starts at the age of 6.
2. Basic school
Basic education is compulsory in Denmark. Compulsory education starts in the year of a child’s 7th birthday and lasts for 9 years. Education is free. There are no tuition fees for the municipal school. If a private school is chosen, 15%of the tuition fees are paid by the parents and 85% by the state. In addition to compulsory education in 9 years, there is an optional 10th year.
3. Youth education
Upon completing basic school, most young people in Denmark go on to attend youth education or upper secondary education. The general upper secondary education is more academic oriented and results in a High School Degree, which qualifies the student for admission to universities and other higher education institutions.After basic school between 55 and 60% choose one of the academically oriented upper secondary programmes.
Apart from the Upper secondary education, students can opt for Vocational secondary education. This qualifies students to enter the labour market directly upon completion. Technical, commercial, social and health-oriented courses are offered as part of this curriculum.
The third option upon completion of the Basic school is ‘Open Youth Education’ where special individual education and training is offered.
4. Higher education
Higher education in Denmark is largely financed by the state. The tuition is free of charge, students only have to buy books and teaching material themselves.
The state also offers student grants – the State Education Fund (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte) – to all students who are enrolled on approved education programmes. Each student at the age of 20 and above receives DKK 4,618 (2005) (pre-tax) on a monthly basis. It is also possible to get a favourable loan while studying. Special rules apply if the student lives together with the parents and/or is under the age of 20 and/or has children.
As a general rule, a completed youth education programme is required in order to gain access to a higher education programme.