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Eurydice

EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Denmark

3.Funding in Education

3.1Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Last update: 24 June 2024

Funding

Early childhood education and care (ECEC)

Nurseries, kindergartens, and other ECEC institutions are administered by the Ministry of Children and Education and are financed primarily through subsidies by the municipalities, which in turn receive block grants allocated by the state. The subsidy from the municipalities should comprise of at least 75 per cent of the gross operational expenses excluding rent and maintenance. The rest is covered by the parents who each month pay a fixed amount, not to exceed 25 per cent of the above mentioned expenses, to the municipality.

The grant is based on the day-care facility budgets. It is the municipal council that decides whether the municipal grants and the parents' payment must be in the form of institution charges, which means on the basis of individual institutional budgets, or as average tariffs on the basis of the total budgets for all institutions of the same type in the municipality.

The municipality has an obligation to publish prices for a place in day-care.

Primary and lower secondary education (single-structure)

Primarily, the expenses of the public primary and lower secondary education (Folkeskole) are met by the municipalities unless specifically exempted by statute. The Folkeskole is a municipal school and the municipal schools are not financed according to the taximeter system. The municipalities decide themselves as to which system of financing they want to use for the schools under their responsibility, but the Ministry of Children and Education has laid down certain minimum requirements.

The municipalities receive a lump sum from the state and allocate it to different resource categories such as staff, operational, and capital goods.

Upper secondary education

Institutions at this level are self-governing and funded by the state. The Ministry of Children and Education uses a funding formula and distributes funds as activity-level determined grants (taximeter) supplemented by basic grants, targeted research and development funds, and multi-year agreement models. Funds are generally provided as part of a block grant.

For more information, please consult the Eurydice report Financing Schools in Europe - Mechanisms, Methods and Criteria in Public Funding.

Financial autonomy and control

Primary and lower secondary education (single-structure)

Both the central and local level are involved in the transfer of resources for teaching staff and non-teaching staff, resources for operational expenditure and services as well as resources for capital goods. At local level, the municipalities recieve a lump sum and allocate it to the mentioned resource categories alongside their own revenue. That is, the municipalities receive grants earmarked for capital goods from the Ministry of Children and Education in addition to the lump sum they obtain from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to finance the capital expenditures needed for all public services.

Input-based criteria such as pupil or staff numbers are taken into account in determining the level of resources contributing to teaching and non-teaching staff costs. Central level authorities award more ressources per pupil to municipalities/schools in remote areas.

Upper secondary education

Only the central level is involved in the transfer of resources for teaching staff and non-teaching staff, resources for operational expenditure and services as well as resources for capital goods.

For schools at upper secondary level, the Ministry of Children and Education uses a funding formula and distributes funds as activity-level determined grants (taximeter) supplemented by basic grants, targeted research and development funds, and multi-year agreement models. Funds are generally provided as part of a block grant. No local or regional authorities are involved in the funding of upper secondary schools and nor is the schools' own revenue used for the funding of the schools.

For more information, please consult the Eurydice report Financing Schools in Europe - Mechanisms, Methods and Criteria in Public Funding.

Fees within public education

In Denmark, public-sector education (Folkeskole and upper secondary education) is free, i.e. no fees are charged.  

Financial support for learners' families

For early childhood education and care, the financial support measures are directed at the parents. In addition to municipal subsidies for day-care facilities, parents can obtain different types of 'free place funding' and sibling funding in order to reduce parents' payments, provided that the parents meet specific criteria. The different forms of funding are:

  • 'Free place funding';
  • Sibling funding;
  • Socio-educational 'free place funding'.

Financial support for families of pupils with special educational needs

According to the Service Act, section 112, the municipalities grant financial support to auxiliary equipment to people with permanent physical or mental disabilities. The financial support is granted insofar as the equipment significantly improves the situation of the disabled pupil. The support may cover transport, meals, prosthetic devices, and communicative aids like computers, hearing aid etc.

Financial support for learners

As education at primary level and upper secondary level is free, there is no general financial support for learners.

Every Dane over the age of 18 is entitled to public support for his or her further education. The support (SU) is granted by the state in the form of grants and state subsidised loans. Students are eligible for their first grant in the first quarter after the students' 18th birthday. Grants and loans are given to educational programmes recognised by the Ministry of Children and Education, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, and the Ministry of Culture. The maximum amounts granted in 2024 are: 

  • DKK 2,940 (EUR 394) per month for students living with their parents;
  • DKK 6,820 (EUR 915) per month for students living on their own.

Students receiving SU also receive a discount on the daily transportation between their residence and their place of study.

Private education

Early childhood education and care

The municipal council has to give parents with children from the age of 26 weeks and until the age of school start the possibility to choose financial support for private provision instead of public provision. The financial contribution should amount to at least 75 per cent of the costs in a similar public provision. The municipal council must provide further financial support for parents with more than one child enrolled in either public or private ECEC.

If parents want their child to attend a private institution, parents can receive funding from the local council in their municipality of residence for the payment of the place at the day-care facility.

Private institutions are not subject to the payment rules for day-care facilities under the authority of the munucipality and they can therefore set the parental fees themselves. Thus, there is no maximum on parental fees in private institutions as parents themselves choose whether their children should be admitted in a private institution.

The subsidy for the private institution consists of an operating grant, a building grant, and an administration grant. The combined amount of subsidies is paid to the private institution and not directly to parents.

Primary and lower secondary education (single-structure)

The Act on Private-independent Schools and Private Schools defines a public grant system for private schools by which they are allocated a grant towards the operational expenditure per pupil per year, which in principle matches the public expenditure per pupil in the municipal schools minus the school fees paid by the parents. The total grant for all private and independent schools is obtained by multiplying the average rate per pupil by the total number of pupils. Since 1993, the schools have been given taximeter grants per pupil to cover all kinds of building-related expenditures, i.e. building costs, maintenance, rent, and real estate taxes.

The schools receive a grant for their school-based leisure activities per pupil participating in these activities, from the school's pre-school class (form level 0) to form level 3.

All grants (apart from grants relating to special needs teaching and free places) are allocated as one total block grant independent of the actual expenditures. As long as this block grant is used for school and teaching purposes, the school is free to spend the money (and fix the school fees) according to its own priorities.

To be eligible for public financial support, schools must be of a certain minimum size. Furthermore, the school must be a self-governing institution with a board of governors responsible to the Ministry of Children and Education and with rules regulating the use of any net assets in case of liquidation. The school's funds must only be spent for the benefit of the school and its activities. A school must not be owned by a private individual or run for private profit and schools must be able to find a degree of self-financing.

The actual grant per pupil varies from one school to another depending on three factors:

  • The size of the school (number of pupils);
  • The age distribution of the pupils;
  • The location of the school.

There are a number of special grants, such as grants towards expenditures incurred in connection with the teaching of pupils with learning disabilities or other special needs. These grants are awarded on the basis of a case-by-case assessment.

Another special grant is the additional grant received by the German minority schools in the south of Jutland because they teach two languages; German and Danish.

Schools also receive a block grant per pupil to cover rent, maintenance, construction etc. and a grant for school-based leisure activities per pupil participating in these activities, from the school's pre-school class (form level 0) to form level 3.

The grant distribution process consists of a computer-based calculation, a few regulations issued by the Ministry of Children and Education, and a few controlled key figures.

Upper secondary education

The private upper secondary schools have the same public grant system as the private basic schools. There are about 20 schools, and they cater for six per cent of all upper secondary school pupils. They differ from the private basic school in that the content of their teaching is governed by the same rules as those applying to the public schools, the reason being that they both lead to the same final examination, i.e. the upper secondary school leaving examination (Studentereksamen).

For more information, please visit Private Upper Secondary Schools.

References

Legislation and Official Policy Documents

Legal Information (Retsinformation), 2024: Act on the Folkeskole (Bekendtgørelse af lov om folkeskolen), LBK no. 90 of 29/01/2024. [Accessed 1 February 2024]

Legal Information (Retsinformation), 2024: Act on institutions providing general upper secondary education (Bekendtgørelse af lov om institutioner for almengymnasiale uddannelser og almen voksenuddannelse m.v.), LBK no.146 of 14/02/2024. [Accessed 24 June 2024]

Legal Information (Retsinformation), 2024: Act on Day-Care, After-school and Club Facilities etc. for Children and Young Pople (Day-Care Facilities Act) (Bekendtgørelse af lov om dag-, fritids- og klubtilbud m.v. til børn og unge (dagtilbudsloven)), LBK no. 55 of 17/01/2024. [Accessed 1 February 2024]

Legal information (Retsinformation), 2024: Act on Private-Independent and Private Schools (Bekendtgørelse af lov om friskoler og private grundskoler m.v.), LBK no. 161 of 21/02/2024. [Accessed 24 June 2024]

Legal Information (Retsinformation), 2024: Act on Social Service (Bekendtgørelse af lov om social service), LBK no. 67 of 22/01/2024. [Accessed 1 February 2024]