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All relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Children and Education, partake in a ministerial working group concerning disabilities. The task of the working group is to inform, coordinate, and ensure direction and fair pace in initiatives and actions in legislation and the allocation of resources for disability-specific purposes and initiatives.
The Act on Primary and Lower Secondary Education from 2020 establishes that children in need of extra help can receive special needs education. However, only children in need of more than nine hours of extra help (per week) to participate in ordinary classes are entitled to special needs education. Special needs education can take place in ordinary schools as well as in special needs schools. However, the government aims to include as many pupils as possible in ordinary classes.
In 2020, the parliament adopted the current law on support for students with impairments in higher education. The legislation obliges the educational system to ensure access for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
The legislation obliges the educational institutions to ensure access for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. Furthermore, the targeted training programme, the preparatory basic education and training (FGU, LBK nr 606 af 24/05/2019), was established to ensure lasting and satisfactory participation on the labour market for youth and young adults in risk of exclusion, including youth and young adults with disabilities.
The number of recipients of support in youth and higher education in 2018 was 34 085 students. Since 2012, the number of recipients has increased from 15 631 (not including participants in specialised youth education). This increase in the number of recipients is due to better knowledge about the opportunities at the educational institutions, more qualified and targeted efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, and in general a better understanding of persons with disabilities as full and equally active citizens.
Throughout education from compulsory primary education to higher education and in-service training, disability-specific support and reasonable accommodation are provided free of charge to the individual in order to ensure full and equal participation. The support is structured in different ways depending on the specific level of education.
Education institutions are paid general grants for the maintenance and improvement of buildings. The institutions are themselves in charge of how to prioritise these grants (compulsory public education is exempt from this, as municipalities are in charge of maintenance and improvement). One of the purposes such grants can be used for is establishing and improving general accessibility for persons with disabilities, such as elevators for wheelchair users, guidelines for persons who are blind, or hearing loops for people who are hard of hearing. Therefore, such general improvements are not part of the support granted for individual pupils and students, and educational institutions cannot apply for funding for these expenses at the Ministry of Children and Education.
Preparatory basic education and training (FGU) – below 25 years of age
In August 2019, a new education was established for persons below 25 years of age who are not yet ready to start an ordinary youth education or get a job. The education is called preparatory basic education and training and follows a holistic approach to learning and participants. The aim of the programme is to support the participants either to proceed to education or to achieve qualifications ensuring employment. The background for all participants is the need for a special and targeted effort to return to education, and the reasons for the personal situation can be many (e.g. previous unsuccessful encounters with education, accidents, addiction). A common factor is the risk of being excluded from education and in the long run suffering from a lack of lasting and satisfactory participation on the labour market. If needed, the student starts with an introduction of up to two weeks in order to plan further participation of the individual. Participants participate in one of three different tracks:
- general basic education
- basic production education
- basic vocational training
Even though there are three main tracks and students are taught in classes, teaching is highly differentiated to meet the needs of every individual. Students with disabilities can have assistive devices and accessible learning materials for this education; however, mentoring is considered as being built into the programme and therefore cannot be granted specifically. Participants in the education are entitled to a scholarship, the amount of which is dependent on their age, whether they live with their parents or independently, and there is also a child benefit for participants who are parents. As the programme is newly established, the outcome has not yet been measured.
General and vocational upper secondary education – 15–20 years of age
According to Act no. 69 of January 28, 2020, all pupils and students with disabilities and special needs are entitled to support. The aim of such support is to provide all young people with the opportunity to get an education, regardless of their impairment. Individuals who can apply for support under this act include young people who have dyslexia, ADHD, a hearing or visual impairment, a physical disability or a chronic disease.
Specialised youth education (særligt tilrettelagt ungdomsuddannelse, STU) – from finalising compulsory education to 25 years of age
A specialised youth education for people who are not able to participate in ordinary youth education is established in Act no. 610 from May 2019. This education is fully managed and funded by the municipalities. Students are young people who cannot complete an ordinary upper secondary education in spite of extensive support. The target group is young people with intellectual, physical, or psycho-social disabilities. The participants have to be below 25 years of age when starting the education. The education has a duration of three years, and the programme is individually planned to meet the needs and interests of the participant. The content is planned on an individual basis and is often a mix of schooling and workshops.
Higher education – from 18 years of age
In higher education, students can have disability specific support when having a documented impairment. The aim of this support is to ensure that students with disabilities can, to as large a degree as possible, participate in education on an equal basis with others. When a student considers that he or she is in need of support, the student can contact the educational institution and the institution will draft an application for the Ministry of Children and Education requesting the specific support required for the student. Support takes many forms and is highly individualised. Support can be assistive devices such as laptops with special programs for reading for people with dyslexia or who are blind or have low vision; it can be specialised keyboards for people with rheumatism or other impairments affecting the ability to use their hands. Support can also be sign language interpretation or captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. For people with dyslexia or psycho-social disabilities, mentoring can be granted to develop reading strategies or plan and structure work routines, collaboration, and participation. Also, students in some situations are in need of practical support (e.g. to take out books from their bag). Often, the individual student has more than one kind of support.
Students in higher education have access to a complaints procedure if the application for support is rejected or if the student finds that the approved support in not sufficient.
It is possible to apply for support during international mobility (special educational assistance (support scheme)) for instance during studies or traineeships abroad. The support during studies or traineeships abroad cannot exceed the support the young person would be eligible for in Denmark.
Support for transportation
Students enrolled in upper secondary and higher education are entitled to a discount on public transportation from their home to the education institution. Different schemes exist:
The Youth Card for young people enrolled on recognised formal education. With a Youth Card, young people are entitled to unlimited travel between the home and the education institution. Prices vary depending on age and municipality of residence. Prices are higher for students enrolled on formal higher education after 1 July 2016.
Alternatively, students may be entitled to a mileage allowance when they use their own vehicle. The scheme compensates students for long distances and physical or mental impairments.
In order to be eligible for mileage allowance, the young person must be entitled to the Youth Card and must fulfil one of the following criteria:
- Public transportation is not possible on the entire distance.
- The waiting time for public transportation is at least two hours each day.
- The travel time using public transportation will be prolonged by more than two hours compared to transportation in own vehicle.
- Due to physical or mental impairment, the student is eligible for a subsidy to purchase a vehicle according to § 114 in the Law on Social Services (serviceloven).
The student must direct the application to the education institution with documentation for travel time when using public transportation as well as the distance from the home address to the education institution. If a physical impairment influences the distance and speed at which the student is able to walk, this should be documented in the application with a doctor’s note.
If students have to travel by ferry, they can be entitled to a discount. The discount can be included in the Youth Card or be a separate discount – this depends on the ferry company.
Flexible scheme – youth educations
Students enrolled on FGU (preparatory basic education and training) and EGU (before 1 August 2019) are entitled to a transportation discount when they participate in short term and changing courses. The education institutions decides whether the student is entitled to the flexible scheme discount.
In special instances, when the processing of the granting of the discount could not be completed, and the applicant has had to pay out the full amount, the applicant can be entitled to a cash discount. The education institutions decides whether the student is entitled to the cash discount.
State educational grant (SU)
Besides the targeted support for students with special needs, a universal education grant targets all students from 18 years of age regardless of social standing. Young people from 18 years of age are entitled to the state educational grant (SU) when they are enrolled in approved formal education programmes. Furthermore, the tuition at Danish public and most private educational institutions is free for Danish students and for EU/EEA students, as well as for students participating in an exchange programme.
In addition to the ordinary state educational grant, students with a permanent functional or mental disability that substantially reduces the students’ ability to take a student job may be eligible for a grant supplement of 8991 DKK (2021 rate) per month before tax. The impairment must be documented by a general practitioner.
As of 2019, the state education supplement due to impairment has been extended to vocational education and training (VET) programmes. Students with permanent functional or mental disability enrolled in VET programmes may be entitled to a supplement of 5639 DKK (2021 rate) before tax.
Students applying for the supplementary grant must receive or have applied for the state educational grant already.
There is a limit regarding how much students are allowed to earn when receiving the state education grant. This limit will be reduced when receiving the additional grant because the grant compensates the earnings that the student could have made without the impairment.
In 2019, the government launched a measure targeting dyslexia. One of the targets is to adjust dyslexia tests for pupils and students with Danish as their second language so that they receive the correct support in primary and lower secondary education, upper secondary education and basic preparatory education (FGU).
As of 2020, the Ministerial Order on Examination at the Danish Universities (BEK nr 22 af 09/01/2020) entitles a person who provides documentation of a legal change of gender to a new diploma with the new personal data. The original diploma is cancelled and shredded. If the person has completed part of the education programme, the education institution is obliged to issue documentation for the completed parts of the programme.
In 2018, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science launched the Technology Pact. One of the objectives of the pact is to get more young people interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and in the long run to get them to take a STEM education. The target is to increase the number of people completing a STEM education by 20% in 10 years. Because STEM educations primarily attract males, the Technology Pact focuses on including more females in STEM educations. Several projects in the pact target girls.
Democracy and active citizenship campaign In 2018, the Ministry of Children and Education launched a campaign on democracy and citizenship, promoting freedom of speech, tolerance, and active participation to ensure that democratic values are passed on from generation to generation in compulsory school and youth education. The campaign encourages compulsory schools, youth education institutions, and lifelong-learning institutions to have a focus on these subjects. The Ministry of Children and Education has developed a vast toolbox to support all educational institutions in their efforts. The intention of the initiative is to prevent radicalisation and improve participation and active citizenship for all.
Prevent bullying Since 2017, all primary schools and upper secondary education institutions have by law been obliged to have a strategy for preventing bullying, including digital bullying. To ensure effective efforts, the legislation also requires schools to react to inquiries from pupils, students, and parents within 10 working days with a written plan on how to prevent the bullying from occurring. Parents of pupils and students below 18 years of age, as well as students above 18 years, can file a complaint if an institution does not have a strategy or if they consider a plan related to a specific incident or row of incidents to be insufficient.