Country information for Denmark - Financing of inclusive education systems

Total educational expenditure in 2006 (including study grants) was approximately 137 billion Danish kroner, or 8% of GDP.

The different levels of the Danish education system under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education are funded by means of the so-called ‘taximeter system’ (i.e. according to the principle that ‘the money follows the student’).

The taximeter system is part of the Ministry’s overall strategy of target and framework management. The main idea behind this strategy is that decisions about implementing courses of education are best made by the persons directly faced with the problems, i.e. the heads and boards of the educational institutions.

The system is based on allocating grants to institutions according to their level of activity: a lot of students means a large grant; few students means a small grant. The previous year’s budget has no influence on the size of the following year’s budget.

A key element in the taximeter system is the block grant principle. As long as the block grant is used for legitimate purposes, the institution is free to spend the money in accordance with its own priorities.

All schools financed by central government receive their grants based on various taximeter systems adapted to the different types of schools.

Pre-school education

Local authorities finance nurseries, kindergartens, other day-care institutions and pre-school classes through block grants allocated by the state.

Compulsory schooling

As municipal schools, the Folkeskolen are not financed from the taximeter system. Municipalities decide upon the system of financing for schools under their responsibility; however, the Ministry of Education has laid down certain minimum requirements.

Transition period

Secondary education can be divided into general upper-secondary education and vocational secondary education.

The Ministry of Education lays down rules of guidance for the schools. Schools, which are geographically dispersed, are self-governing institutions with different backgrounds and academic profiles. They finance the implementation of one or more of the upper-secondary education programmes by means of grants from the Ministry of Education, provided on the basis of student numbers. The head of the school answers to a board, whose composition reflects the school’s specific profile. The teachers and pupils in the school appoint representatives to the board. The school board appoints and dismisses the head teacher and has overall responsibility for the running of the school and its activities. For more detailed information, please see the Fact Sheet on the Gymnasium.

Vocational upper-secondary education

The Minister of Education allocates a yearly grant to the colleges to cover administration, management and operation of buildings. The operational grant is made up of a basic grant, outlined in the government’s annual Finance Acts, and a grant allocated on the basis of the number of students enrolled per year, plus a rate per student per year. The rate per student per year is outlined in the annual Finance Acts for large groups of programmes.

Furthermore, the Minister of Education allocates grants to colleges for the acquisition and maintenance of classrooms, buildings and areas. Grants are based on the number of students enrolled per year, plus a rate per student, as laid down in the annual Finance Acts for large groups of programmes. The rates may vary on the basis of the college’s geographical location and other aspects.

Changes from 2012

The increased expenditure on special needs education was examined in a special study run by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and KL (the union of local authorities). This study showed that about 30% of all costs for schools go towards special needs education and related advice systems. From this study, it was clear that the main reason for the steady growth in expenses for special needs education was the transfer of students to special classes and special schools.

Follow-up of this study resulted in new legislation. The concept of special needs education has been restricted to teaching in special classes, special schools and learners requiring more than nine hours’ support per week. All other support offered to students in mainstream education is no longer special needs education, but given as supplementary education. The aim is to reduce transfer to special needs education to a maximum of 4% of all students. The development is monitored for each municipality through statistics showing the percentage of students transferred to special needs education.

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