Education is very important, as most jobs on the Danish labor market require that you have an education. Danish society is often referred to as a knowledge society. This means that increasingly people have jobs where knowledge is the main resource. Therefore, education plays a vital role for young people and adults. Education is usually free in Denmark.
After public school, the vast majority of young people – approx. 92% from each class – choose to go on to secondary education. There are two different types of youth educations: Upper Secondary Education and vocational training.
Upper Secondary Education
Upper Secondary Education primarily prepares young people for higher education and colleges and vocational schools normally provide the education. At public gymnasiums, tuition is free. There are four different branches of secondary education:
- Training for the Upper Secondary School Examination, the gymnasium (STX)
- Training for the Higher Commercial Examination (HHX)
- Training for the Higher Technical Examination (HTX)
Training for Higher Preparatory Examination (HF) STX, HHX, and HTX educations take three years. Young people who have completed public school with a 9th grade test can be admitted to these. The HF course takes two years. Young people who have completed the 10th grade of public school will be admitted here. All four branches of secondary education concludes with an examination, which provides access to higher education. At the gymnasium (STX), the work is very much a
continuation of the subjects that young people have had in public school: such as language, history, mathematics, social science, physics/chemistry and biology. The program is completed with the equivalent of a high school diploma. HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) covers essentially the same subjects as the gymnasium. The HF program is aimed particularly at people who have completed the 10th grade or have been out of school for a few years. The average age is usually higher for HF than for upper secondary. The training concludes with the equivalent of a high school exam.
For HHX (Higher Commercial Examination), the subjects taught have to do with trade, such as finance, marketing, and the global economy. However, they also teach things like language, math and social studies. Lessons normally take place at a vocational school (trade gymnasium). Concludes with a business examination.
For HTX (Higher Technical Examination) the teaching consists of natural science and technology subjects. However, the teaching of language and mathematics is included as well. Lessons normally take place at a vocational school (technical gymnasium). The training concludes with a higher technical examination.
The influx of pupils/students in the four branches of secondary education:
STX (Upper Secondary School Examination) approx. 58%, HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) approx. 17%, HHX (Higher Commercial Examination) approx. 17%, HTX (Higher Technical Examination) approx. 9% (2012)
Most young people who complete a high school education, continue on to another program afterwards, e.g. at universities, colleges, or business schools.
After school, you can also choose vocational training. The many types of training are all geared towards different professions of a technical or practical nature. This could be in areas such as technology, construction, agriculture, horticulture or trade and service. Within these areas, you can pursue education leading to jobs such as electrician, cook, blacksmith, sales assistant, mason, or hairdresser. Classes are held at a vocational school.
In vocational training, theoretical instruction at a vocational school is combined with an internship at a workplace. Vocational training can take between 11⁄2 and 53⁄4 years, depending on the program you choose. When you get an internship, you get paid apprenticeship wages.
EUX educations let you supplement various kinds of vocational training with general study competence, so you get both a practical education with direct access to jobs (such as masonry) and a preparatory examination (EUX) with the opportunity to go on to higher education. The EUX cycle is longer than other professional education cycles.
Most young people who have completed a secondary education continue on to higher education. The same is true for some young people in vocational training. Most higher education is free for citizens of Denmark and the EU. The individual programs have special admission requirements. This could be requirements such as having learned certain subjects in your upper secondary education, or having a certain grade point average. Higher education can be pursued at trade academies, professional colleges, institutions of higher artistic learning, and universities.
At trade academies, you can pursue a brief higher education, which allows you to get a particular job when you are done with the training. This could be a job as a laboratory technician, engineer, dental hygienist, or electrician. Instruction is combined with practical training. The programs usually takes 2 years. You are paid during training.
At professional colleges, you can pursue a medium length higher education. The training culminates in a professional bachelor’s degree. The training often prepares you to get a particular job when it has been completed. This could, for instance, be a job as a schoolteacher, midwife, nurse, social worker, therapist, physical therapist, journalist, or financial economist. The programs usually take 3-4 years. Usually a six- month internship is included in these programs.
At universities or other institutions of higher learning, you can pursue a higher education. A higher education can be in the health sciences (e.g. medicine), social sciences (e.g. law or economics), humanities (e.g. language or history), science (e.g. biology, physics, or chemistry), arts (e.g. music or design), or technical science (e.g. engineering). Most long-term higher education is divided into a three-year bachelor program followed by a two-year graduate program. There are eight universities in Denmark. There are universities in both Zealand, Funen, and Jutland.
The government may provide financial support for people pursuing approved educations. Sometimes, this support is referred to as SU, which is an abbreviation that means State Educational Support (in Danish, Statens Uddannelsesstøtte). You must be 18 or older to receive SU. In addition, the training you pursue must be SU eligible. You can get SU both when pursuing a high school education, vocational training, and when pursuing a higher education.
There are different rules for how much you can get in support. Young people between the ages of 18 and 20 years can get SU, but not everyone receives the same amount. It depends on how much their parents earn and whether they live at home or on their own. If you are not a Danish citizen, you can apply to the SU-agency to get the same financial support as Danish citizens.
Adult and Continuing Education
There is a long tradition of continuing education in Denmark. It has often been said that lifelong learning (learning throughout life) is important. More and more adults who already have a job continue to educate themselves, often because it offers better opportunities in the labor market.
If you already have an education and work experience, there are many opportunities to further your education. As an example, you can pursue a diploma program, which is a part-time education, the academic level equivalent to the undergraduate level at a university. It takes between 1 and 2 years, and you pay to attend the program.
You can also take short AMU courses. AMU stands for labor market programs (in Danish, arbejdsmarkedsuddannelser) and are short courses for skilled and unskilled laborers. There are about 3,200 different courses in commerce, health, agriculture, metallurgy, transportation, etc.
If, for example, somebody has problems with spelling, reading, or math, or is dyslexic, they can take adult education courses (at adult education centers, known as VUC or voksenuddannelsescentre). Through adult education, you can also take courses known from public school, for example, English, Danish, German, or math. Adults can also pursue a high school education a single course at a time, at adult education centers or other institutions.