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Education in Denmark - statistics & facts

Free education is a cornerstone of the Danish welfare society, and attending primary school, secondary school, and university is something every Dane can do with no tuition costs. In Denmark, education is compulsory for children until the ninth grade of primary school, and afterwards most pupils proceed to upper secondary school, followed by a degree in higher education institutions. As of 2019, 25 percent of the population in Denmark had primary school as their highest completed education. Nevertheless, the population is becoming increasingly more educated, and over 30 percent of Danes had attained some kind of higher education that same year.

Primary and upper secondary education

Over the past decade, the number of people aged 16 years and younger in Denmark declined, and the number of pupils in Danish schools decreased accordingly. As of 2019, 696.5 thousand pupils attended primary school, most of whom were enrolled in public primary schools. In fact, around 527 thousand pupils attended public primary schools, while private primary schools counted 122 thousand pupils. While attendance in public schools decreased over the years, the opposite trend was seen in private schools. Both the number of pupils in private schools and the number of private schools has been growing on an annual basis, and there were 556 private schools in Denmark in 2019.

After primary school, pupils can choose an optional tenth grade. Most pupils, however, proceed directly to upper secondary education. Over 145 thousand students attended one of the 184 upper secondary schools in Denmark in 2019. Upper secondary education is divided into general upper secondary programs, which primarily prepare for higher education, and vocational upper secondary education and training programs, focusing on careers in a specific trade or industry. The programs usually last three years, and the most common type of institution is a gymnasium, where most students afterwards proceed to higher education institutions such as universities.

Higher education

Higher education in Denmark is divided into several different educational institutions, and universities are the most popular. In detail, 42 percent of all higher education students were enrolled in one of the eight universities in the country in 2019. Nearly 149 thousand students were registered at universities in Denmark the same year, most of whom were enrolled at the University of Copenhagen. It is common for students in Denmark to hold both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, and women are remarkably overrepresented in Master programs. Nonetheless, a higher proportion of men than women have historically entered doctorate (PhD) programs; a pattern which has shifted in recent years.

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Education in Denmark

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Primary school

Upper secondary education

Higher education

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