More foreigners go to Danish language classes after fees scrapped

The number of people learning Danish at public language centres significantly increased after a mandatory course fee was scrapped last summer.

The end of module fees at Danish language centres has led to an increase in people taking lessons.
The end of module fees at Danish language centres has led to an increase in people taking lessons. Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Cours participants who would have been required to pay fees to attend Danish language lessons under old rules numbered 10,499 in early 2020, before the charge was scrapped.

In the second quarter of this year that number had risen to 18,707, the Ministry for Immigration and Integration said in a statement on Wednesday.

The course fee, revoked on July 1st last year, applied to foreigners termed self-sufficient or selvforsørgende, encompassing people in Denmark for work and study purposes.

The fee was scrapped following an agreement between the government and left wing parties.

Danish lessons at state-owned language centres are offered to foreign nationals who have recently moved to Denmark and reside legally in the country. Refugees as well as people who move to Denmark to because of offers of work or study learn Danish at the schools.

“I’m pleased that more foreigners are choosing to go to Danish language classes. It is key for successful integration that foreigners in Denmark learn Danish,” immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye said in the statement.

“That gives them a better chance to talk to colleagues, neighbours and their daughter’s coach at the local football club – in short, it makes it easier to become part of the community,” he continued.

“At the same time, employers gain more from foreign workers when they speak the language”, Tesfaye also said.

The fee for language lessons was introduced by the previous government on July 1st 2018, meaning people who attended Danish classes had to pay 2,000 kroner every time they began one of the six modules into which the full course of language study is divided.

Danish lessons had been free prior to 2018.

Introducing course fees “probably, to varying degrees, had an effect on the drop in course participants from 2018 to 2019,” the ministry said.

Course registrations in 2020 and 2021 were also impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it noted, citing closures during lockdown periods and the effect of the pandemic on immigration in general.

READ ALSO: Are Danish language lessons worth 12,000 kroner? Here’s what The Local readers think (2018)

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Denmark and Rwanda move forward on asylum seeker transfer plan

Denmark and Rwanda on Friday said they would move forward on a plan which would see asylum seekers in Denmark transferred to an offshore facility in Rwanda while their claims are processed.

Denmark and Rwanda move forward on asylum seeker transfer plan

The two countries signed a joint statement on bilateral cooperation which declared they were “exploring the establishment of a program through which spontaneous asylum seekers arriving in Denmark may be transferred to Rwanda for consideration of their asylum applications.”

It would also include “the option of settling in Rwanda,” the statement said.

The declaration was published on the website of Denmark’s Ministry of Immigration and Integration.

It goes a step further than an earlier partnership agreement, announced by the two countries in 2021, because Rwanda now expressly states that it wants to accept asylum seekers from Denmark.

Earlier declarations referred more vaguely to Denmark’s goal of establishing an offshore or “third-country” asylum centre.

Danish ministers Kaare Dybvad Bek (Immigration) and Flemming Møller Mortensen (foreign development) are currently in Rwanda, where they held a doorstep press briefing on Friday with Rwandan officials to present the new agreement.

Securing an offshore asylum centre has been a long-term, stated ambition of the governing Social Democratic party. The Danish Foreign Ministry recently announced it had opened a local office in Kigali, where two diplomats from the ministry will be based from late this year.

In June 2021, Denmark, known for having one of Europe’s harshest stances on immigration, adopted a law enabling it to open asylum reception centres outside Europe where applicants would live while their case is being processed.

Asylum seekers would still need to submit applications in person at the Danish border and then be flown to the reception centre in another country.

The declaration states that the two lands are working together to enable asylum seekers to remain in Rwanda after their cases are processed.

The two countries say they will speak to the EU Commission and other international bodies to “facilitate international dialogue” about what Denmark and Rwanda view as solutions to the current “dysfunctional” asylum system.

“We are working hard to create a fairer asylum system and we have continuously taken news steps,” Bek said in a press statement.

“At the same time it is important that we don’t rush anything through but instead do our work thoroughly and reach an agreement that complies with Denmark’s and Rwanda’s international obligations,” he said.

When the 2021 Danish law was passed, the European Commission said the Danish plan violated existing EU asylum rules.

Denmark has an opt-out on EU law which keeps it outside of the EU cooperation on laws relating to border control and asylum (but not visa rules and the Schengen area).


However, the Nordic country could find itself in violation of the Dublin Regulation should it press on with the plan.

The regulation sets criteria for how EU member states must process asylum claims.

Earlier this month, the EU Commission told Danish political media Altinget that a legal assessment of whether the Dublin Regulation had been infringed would be initiated if Denmark went ahead with the plan.

The minority government is also likely to face blowback over the plan from left wing parties which usually secure its parliamentary majority.

The immigration spokesperson with the Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre), Kathrine Olldag, told newspaper Jyllands-Posten on Friday that her party “can not put mandates behind a government – regardless of party colour – that fulfils this project” by moving asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Conservative parties have meanwhile called the two ministers’ visit to Rwanda a campaign stunt, with a general election rumoured to be announced this autumn.

The UK government has also announced a controversial policy to deport rejected asylum seekers to Rwanda, but it has stalled amid legal challenges.