6.2 Administration and governance
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The cooperation within the area of education and training involves many actors. Often there is a strong cooperation between the Ministry of Children and Education and the Ministry of Employment, as well as between the Ministry of Children and Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
A cross-ministerial working group has been established to evaluate the online education guidance portal ug.dk (uddannelsesguiden). The working group consists of specialists from the Ministry of Children and Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
Stakeholders within the field of education as well as social partners are represented in the various councils under the Ministry of Children and Education and under the Ministry of Higher Education and Science (see above).
Tripartite negotiations take place between the government, trade unions, and employers organisations. The negotiations are cross-sectoral cooperation regarding issues in the labour market. Since education and employment are closely linked, the cooperation often involves the minister of children and education and sometimes the minister of higher education and science.
The Danish education system is managed by the following ministries:
The Ministry of Children and Education
- The ministry is responsible for primary and lower secondary education (Folkeskole)
- General and vocational upper secondary education
- Adult education and continuing training
- School-based leisure time facilities (skolefritidsordning) and youth schools.
The ministry has the overall parliamentary and legal responsibility for the above-mentioned education programmes.
Regarding primary and lower secondary education (folkeskole), the municipalities are responsible for the management of the public schools, but the ministry supervises the academic quality of the schools and whether the minimum annual teaching time in Danish, mathematics, and history are met. Furthermore, the ministry supervises whether the overall minimum teaching time are met.
Regarding the general upper secondary education programmes, the ministry is responsible for:
- Approval of new institutions and the revoking of approvals.
- Approval of the institutions’ statutes.
- Approval of the institutions’ selection of educational programmes on offer.
- Establishing, among other things, the rules regarding admission to educational programmes, the content of the programmes, quality requirements, grants, budget reporting, accounting, etc.
- The authority to take legal action if the board or other actors inflict a loss on an institution.
- Necessary supervision of the institutions, including the right to demand all information necessary for the purpose and the authority to institute sanctions.
- Access to complaints regarding decisions made by an institution.
Regarding vocational education and training (VET) programmes, the ministry is responsible for:
- Laying down the overall objectives for VET programmes and providing the legislative framework within which stakeholders, social partners, colleges, and enterprises are able to adapt curricula and methodologies to labour market needs and to students.
- Ensuring that VET programmes have the breadth required for a youth education programme and for allocating resources.
- Approving new qualifications on the basis of recommendations from the Advisory Council for Initial Vocational Education and Training (Rådet for de grundlæggende erhvervsrettede uddannelser – REU) and for approving the colleges and education institutions.
- Laying down the overall rules for VET, in cooperation with the REU, and drawing up the regulations on the individual VET programmes in cooperation with the trade committees. The regulations are supplemented by guidelines drawn up by the trade committees and issued by the ministry.
- Inspection and quality assurance.
Regarding adult education, the ministry is the top-level authority with the overall responsibility for the objectives and content of the programmes and exams, the supervision of the teaching, the economy of the schools, and the management of the schools. Within the legal framework laid down in the ministry, the self-governing education institutions have the responsibility to carry out teaching and examination.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science is primarily responsible for ministerial and management services, quality assurance and coordination of cases, strategy and development, media and press activities, and finance and legal affairs.
Among other things, the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science undertakes academic and administrative tasks that support the ongoing quality development in higher education. This responsibility is grounded in an ongoing dialogue and covers the administration and implementation of grants and subsidies to higher education institutions, as well as other matters.
The Agency is responsible for the State Educational Grant and Loan Scheme, including the general educational grant ('SU') and the state adult educational grant ('SVU'), plus a number of other special support schemes for applicants to courses in higher education.
Finally, the Agency is responsible for the Coordinated Admission System (KOT).
The Ministry of Culture
According to Act on higher education institutions within the fine arts (LBK nr 732 af 14/06/2016), the Ministry of Culture is responsible for seven higher education institutions:
- The Royal Danish Academy of Music
- Rhythmic Music Conservatory
- The Royal Academy of Music
- Danish National Academy of Music
- National Film School of Denmark
- Danish National School of Performing Arts
- The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts: The Schools of Visual Arts
Furthermore, the Ministry of Culture financially supports:
- The Jutland Art Academy
- Funen Art Academy
- The Writer School (Forfatterskolen)
In addition, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for non-formal adult education and training such as:
- The folk high schools
- Evening schools
- Day folk high schools
- University extension courses
The Ministry of Defence
The Ministry of Defence is responsible for specialised education programmes within the Danish defence.
Other public actors
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Children and Education, the following agencies manage the ministry’s responsibility regarding supervision:
The National Agency for Education and Quality (STUK). The agency is responsible for the economic supervision of the self-governing education institutions under the ministry’s responsibility. The supervision ensures an efficient management of the education institutions. Furthermore, the agency is responsible for the academic supervision and quality assurance of the institutions. The agency is also responsible for the ministry’s citizen- and institution-oriented tasks with regard to supporting the institutions, publishing analyses and guidelines, as well as interpreting and understanding laws and regulations. Lastly, the agency is responsible for the development of the teaching, the common goals, curriculum development, etc.
The National Agency for IT and Learning (STIL): The agency is responsible for all IT systems and solutions in relation to teaching (e.g., the teaching material platform EMU.dk and a communication and cooperation platform AULA). Furthermore, the agency is also responsible for collecting and providing data within the education area, digital tests and exams, and is responsible for the implementation of a range of political agreements within the area of education, for instance IT in the primary and lower secondary education and the action plan for technology in education.
The Council for Adult and Continuing Training (VEU-rådet): The council advises the minister of children and education regarding, for instance, adult vocational training (AMU) and prior learning assessment.
The Council for Youth Educations (Rådet for Ungdomsuddannelser): The council advises the minister of children and education regarding youth educations.
The Danish Centre for Educational Environment is a national knowledge centre working to ensure a healthy educational environment at all education institutions. Furthermore, the centre supervises the educational environment and functions as the national complaints board in relation to bullying.
The Danish Evaluation Institute, EVA, explores and develops the quality of day-care centres, schools and educational programmes. EVA provides usable knowledge at all levels and of interest for both local governments, ministries, and practitioners in all educational institutions.
A number of national agencies and institutions under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education and Science are involved in policymaking in the area of education and training:
The Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science (UFS). The Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science is an agency in the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and handles tasks within preparation and administration of grants for research, higher education and research-based innovation, as well as the State Educational Grant and Loan Scheme.
The Danish Accreditation Institution (Danmarks Akkrediteringsinstitution). The Danish Accreditation Institution plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality and relevance of higher education programmes across the country. Through accreditations and dissemination of knowledge about cross-cutting topics linked to higher education, the institution aims to support the enhancement of educational quality in the higher education sector and to help create a more coherent and transparent education market.
Advisory Committee to Assess the Range of Higher Study Programmes Offered (Det rådgivende udvalg for vurdering af udbud af videregående uddannelser (RUVU)). As of 2013, all new higher educations and new education tenders must be pre-qualified by the Minister for Higher Education and Science. The advisory committee assesses applications for pre-qualification and counsels the minister regarding the pre-qualification. The pre-qualification concerns solely the socio-economic and education-political relevance of the education. The Danish Accreditation Institution will assess the professional/academic quality of the education.
The Advisory Committee regarding Academy Profession Educations and Professional Bachelor Educations (Rådet for Erhvervsakademiuddannelser og Professionsbacheloruddannelser). The committee counsels the minister for higher education and science regarding, for instance, the development of educations, supply of educations in relation to documented demands from the labour market, and quality assurance. The advisory committee publishes a yearly report with recommendations to the minister.
The Education Council for the Maritime Educations (Uddannelsesrådet for de maritime uddannelser): The Education Council for the Maritime Educations consists of organisations from the social partners, public authorities within the maritime occupation, the Danish Rectors’ Conference regarding the maritime educations, and representatives for the teachers and students. The education council advises responsible authorities in relation to the development of educations and meets with the minister of higher education and science twice a year.
Guidance Denmark (Studievalg Danmark) is a national institution responsible for guidance in relation to higher education, including adult/continuing higher education. The guidance centres target students in upper secondary education programmes, young persons who have completed an upper secondary education, and young people who want to make a career change or upgrade their skills.
The Student Counselling Service (Studenterrådgivningen) is an institution under the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The service provides social, psychological, and psychiatric counselling and treatment to students at bachelor, professional bachelor, and master’s level, so they can complete their studies without an unnecessary extension and without unnecessary drop-outs.
Other public/publicly funded actors with relevance for the Danish education of young people
Self-governing education institutions: General and vocational upper secondary education institutions as well as adult education centres are self-governing education institutions, which means that the institutions are responsible for the management of the education institution. The responsibility of the management is split between the board and the headmaster/school management. The institutions finance the implementation of one or more of the upper secondary education programmes by means of grants from the Ministry of Children and Education. The main part of a grant is based on the number of pupils. The National Agency for IT and Learning administers a database with an overview of all recognised education institutions in Denmark.
Self-governing higher education institutions: Universities, business academies, university colleges, maritime education institutions, and higher education institutions within the fine arts. See a list of recognised higher education institutions since 2000.
Municipalities. Denmark has a local government system, which means that each municipal council is responsible for the operating of the public primary and lower secondary schools (folkeskolen). Furthermore, the municipalities are responsible for the youth clubs, youth schools, and special needs education (STU). As of August 2019, municipalities are responsible for the municipal youth guidance units (KUI), which provide guidance, active measures, and employment offers for young people below the age of 25 years.
Regions: Denmark is divided into five regions. According to Act on closure on counties (LBK nr 537 af 24/06/2005), each region is responsible for coordinating the capacity and geographic location of upper secondary education institutions and general adult educations. Furthermore, the regions are responsible for the management of certain special needs education offers.
Private actors with relevance for the Danish education of young people
Ministries are in contact with a broad range of organisations in the policy-making process. When bills and other forms of policy documents are drafted, relevant organisations are consulted. What is considered a relevant organisation depends on the bill in question. A consultation list is prepared for each bill, and the list may vary greatly depending on the subject.
Social partners and their role
The social partners play a significant role in the development and management of the vocational education and training (VET) programmes. The social partners are described in chapter 3 on employment and entrepreneurship, section 3.2. The strong involvement is evident in a range of committees where the social partners are present and ensure that the education programmes meet the demands on/from the labour market.
Two examples of the social partners’ role in VET programmes are the role of the national vocational committees and the local training committes, as described below:
National vocational committees
National vocational committees (faglige udvalg) constitute the backbone of the vocational education and training (VET) system. Approximately 50 vocational committees are responsible for 102 main courses. The committees normally have 10–14 members and are formed by labour market organisations (with parity of membership between employer and employee organisations).
Among their core responsibilities, national vocational committees:
(a) perform a central role in the creation and renewal of VET courses by closely monitoring developments in their particular trade and have a dominant position in formulating learning objectives and final examination standards, based around the key competences deemed to be required in the labour market;
(b) conduct relevant analyses, development projects, etc., and maintain close contact with relevant stakeholders;
(c) decide the regulatory framework for individual courses within boundaries set by the legislative framework – they decide which trade is to provide the core of the training, the duration of the programme, and the ratio between college-based teaching and practical work in an enterprise;
(d) approve enterprises as qualified training establishments and rule on conflicts that may develop between apprentices and the enterprise providing practical training;
(e) function as gatekeepers to the trade, as they are responsible for issuing journeyman’s certificates, both in terms of the content, assessment, and actual holding of examinations. Trade committees and their secretariats are financed by participating organisations.
Local training committees
Local training committees (lokale uddannelsesudvalg) are, on the other hand, affiliated with each vocational college and ensure close contact between vocational colleges and the local community, improving responsiveness to particular local labour market needs. They consist of representatives from local employers and employees appointed by national trade committees, as well as representatives of staff, management, and students appointed by colleges. Training committees work closely alongside colleges in determining the specific curriculum at colleges, including which optional subjects are available. They assist and advise national trade committees in approving local enterprises as qualified training establishments and in mediating conflicts between apprentices and enterprises. Finally, training committees help to ensure enough suitable local training placements.
The social partners also have a significant role in the Council for Vocational Training (REU). The council monitors development in society and identifies trends that may have significance/relevance for the VET education programmes. The council gives its recommendation for decisions to the minister regarding the need for new educations, revision or abolishment of education programmes, establishment of new IVET programmes and the adaptation, amalgamation, or discontinuation of others.
A large range of interest organisations in the area of education and higher education participate in the public debate. All organisations work to ensure that their members have the best possible conditions and act as spokespersons on behalf of their members vis-à-vis national government, politicians, other interest organisations, and the media.
Organisations representing various actors in relation to education
Representatives of the education institutions (list not exhaustive):
The Danish Association of Upper Secondary Schools (Danske Gymnasier): The members of the association are upper secondary schools, often represented by the rector of the school.
University Colleges Denmark (Danske professionshøjskoler): The association consists of the Council of Rectors, which is composed of the rectors from all university colleges, and the Chairmanship, which is composed of all chairmen of the boards of the university colleges.
Universities Denmark (Danske universiteter) is the organisation of the eight Danish universities to enhance their cooperation, visibility, and impact.
Danish Rectors’ Conference for the maritime education programmes (Rektorkollegiet for de maritime uddannelser) consists of the rectors from the eight maritime education institutions.
Danish vocational colleges and EUX (Danske erhvervsskoler og –gymnasier, DEG) consists of both an organisation for the rectors and an organisation for the chairmen of the boards of the education institutions.
Denmark’s private schools (Danmarks private skoler) isn interest organisation for private schools, primary and lower secondary schools, and upper secondary schools.
Student organisations (list not complete):
- Danske studerendes fællesråd, DSF (The national union of students in Denmark). See section 5.3 for a description of the student union.
- Danske skoleelever (The Association of Danish Pupils) works to promote the interests of Danish Primary and lower secondary pupils. See section 5.3
- Erhvervsskolernes elevorganisation (Danish Vocational and Technical School Student Union), see section 5.3
- Danske gymnasieelevers sammenslutning (The Union of Danish Upper Secondary School Students), see section 5.3
Representatives of study and career advisers in Denmark
Danmarks Vejlederforening (Guidance Association of Denmark) represents the interests of guidance and career advisers from all levels of the formal education system.
Local government organisations:
KL: Local Government Denmark is the association and interest organisation of the 98 Danish municipalities. All of the 98 municipalities have voluntarily decided to be a part of KL. The mission of KL is to safeguard common interests of the municipalities, assist individual municipalities with consultancy services, and ensure that the local authorities are provided with up-to-date and relevant information. KL furthers the interests of the municipalities in relation to the Danish parliament, the government, the central administration, the EU, professional and industrial bodies, and the public. For instance, every year, KL negotiates the overall financial framework of the local authorities with the government. Agreeing on such a financial frame is a challenging balancing act that must take into account considerations of economics as well as possible improvements of the quality of local service delivery.
As of January 2020, a new unit under KL is established. The new unit called the Unit for Education and Vocational Guidance supports the municipalities in preparing young people for education or work.
Danske Regioner (Danish Regions): Danish Regions is the interest organisation for the five administrative regions in Denmark. Danish Regions’ overall mission is to safeguard the interests of the regions nationally as well as internationally.
In relation to the development of policies, the most important tasks of the organisation are:
- To safeguard regional government interests within healthcare, hospitals, special education, regional development, the environment, and finances.
- To act as a spokesperson on behalf of the regions vis-à-vis national government, the EU, other interest organisations, and the media.
- To negotiate the annual financial framework of the regions with national government.
General distribution of responsibilities for the administration and governance of the education sector in Denmark
The Ministry of Children and Education is responsible for setting up the framework for curricula at primary and secondary level. It is the responsibility of the individual municipality to determine how the municipality’s schools are to be organised within the framework established by the Folkeskole Act and its ministerial orders. The municipal councils determine the municipal level of service for the primary and lower secondary educations (folkeskole) within this overriding framework and can set their own additional objectives for the schools. The contents of the courses are then finalised by the teachers with their pupils. The Ministry of Children and Education oversees the municipal primary and lower secondary schools (folkeskole) in collaboration with the municipal councils.
In the field of vocational education and training, sectoral committees with equal representation of the labour market organisations concerned play an important role in defining and developing vocational qualifications and stipulating the training conditions. Technical colleges and business colleges are independent institutions under the overall authority of the Ministry of Children and Education.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science is largely responsible for higher education. As mentioned, some of the higher education programmes within the arts fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture, e.g. the schools of visual arts and the academies of music. Specialised education programmes within the area of Danish Defence are managed by the Ministry of Defence.
Higher education institutions in Denmark have a long tradition of academic freedom and autonomy. The ministry lays down the overall regulations for all higher education institutions. This includes regulations concerning the admission of students, the structure of studies, programmes offered, awarding of degrees, and appointment of teachers and academic staff. The individual institutions are then responsible for drawing up and updating their study programmes, indicating the aims, scope and duration, form, and contents of the courses, as well as a description of the syllabus.
The ministry and the individual higher education institutions establish a four-year strategic framework contract. The contract establishes strategic targets that the education institution must fulfil in the contract period in order to receive the full funding from the ministry. The board of the education institution has the overall responsibility for the education institution and the rector is responsible for the daily management. Every year, the higher education institution must provide an annual report and a balance statement in relation to the strategic framework contract as part of the monitoring of the education institutions.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the overall legal framework. The education institutions under the ministry determine how the education institutions are organised in practice within the framework of the Act on Artistic Education Institutions (Lov om de videregående kunstneriske uddannelsesinstitutioner) and its ministerial orders.
Every four years, the Ministry of Culture and the artistic education institutions establish a framework contract with established targets for objectives and results.