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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure


2.Organisation and Governance

2.3Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Last update: 17 May 2023

Compulsory education

In Denmark the parents of the child are obligated to ensure the child's participation in the teaching provided by the Folkeskole or the equivalent.

Education is compulsory between the age of six and 16. Compulsory education consists of ten years of primary and lower secondary education, including one pre-school year (form 0) and nine school years (form 1-9). It is optional to attend the tenth form.

Home education

Parents or guardians, who can teach or provide teaching comparable to the Folkeskole, can do so. To undertake home education, they submit a written declaration to their local municipal authorities.

The local municipality supervises the teaching of home-educated children and the municipality is entitled to test the children annually. Often, it is an employee from the educational-psychological advisory service that carry out the test.

The Danish education structure

Early childhood education and care (ECEC)

ECEC is for children from 26 weeks (six months) to six years. In Denmark, ECEC is optional, but a majority of children attend it.

The public ECEC institutions comprise:

  • Nursery: the children’s age span from 26 weeks to three years old.
  • Kindergarten: the children’s age span from three to five or six years old.
  • Age-integrated institution: the children’s age span from 26 weeks to five or six years old.

For more information about the institutions, please consult chapter 4.2. Organisation of centre-based ECEC.

Primary and lower secondary education

The Danish Folkeskole covers primary and lower secondary education. The duration of compulsory primary and lower secondary education is 10 years. The pupils are between the age of six and 16.

The primary and lower secondary education institutions comprise:

  • Municipal primary and lower secondary schools (Folkeskole)
  • Private elementary schools
  • Continuation schools

For further information, please visit chapter 5. Single Structure Education.

Upper secondary education

Upper secondary education covers general and vocational upper secondary education. Generally, students start at age 16.

The main pathways comprise:

  • General upper secondary education programmes offered at general upper secondary institutions. Generally, the students attend the programmes when they are 16-19 years old.
  • Vocational education and training programmes offered at vocational colleges. The age distribution and the grouping of students depends on the individual VET programme. The average age of students starting on a VET programme is 24 years. Generally, the programmes are completed after 3-5 years.  

For further information, please visit chapter 6. Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education.

Higher education

Higher education covers short, first, second and third-cycle higher education. Students need an upper secondary school leaving certificate to attend higher education. Generally, the students start at age 19.

Short-cycle higher education:

  • Academy Profession programmes are offered at business academies. Generally, the programme is completed after two years.

First-cycle higher education:

  • Professional bachelor’s programmes are offered at the university colleges. Generally, the programme is completed after three and a half years.
  • University bachelor’s degrees are offered at the universities. Generally, the programme is completed after three years.

Second and third cycle higher education:

  • Master’s and PhD-programmes are offered at the universities. Generally, master programmes are completed after two years and PhD-programmes after three.

For further information, please visit chapter 7.1. Types of Higher Education Institutions.

Adult education and training

Generally, the adult education system offers programmes equivalent to those in the ordinary education system. Adult education programmes can be divided into the following categories:

  • General adult education: FVU, AVU, HF.
  • Vocationally oriented education: AMU.
  • Professional and Vocational Adult Education: Academy Profession, Diploma and Master’s level programmes
  • Non-formal adult education: Day Folk High Schools, Study Associations etc.

For further information, please consult chapter 8.3. Main Types of Provision.

The Danish education system

The Danish education system