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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Danish immigration agency fires staff member for misuse of database

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has fired a member of staff and reported them to police after discovering they looked up data of up to 3,300 individuals without authorisation.

Danish immigration agency fires staff member for misuse of database

SIRI, which processes applications for Danish work and residence permits on behalf of the immigration ministry, released a press statement on Tuesday relating to the matter.

The agency was last autumn contacted by a member of the public who said that a staff member at SIRI had accessed their information without authorisation.

Following this, SIRI identified the employee in question in November 2022.

This resulted in confirmation that the person had searched for information and accessed data which were unconnected to their job role.

The information included personal registration (CPR) numbers, income details, family relations and decisions on immigration cases.

SIRI said in the statement that as many as 3,300 personal files may have been accessed by the staff member in the period from January 2021 until November 2022.

The agency has contacted members of the public affected by the issue, it said.

The issue has also been reported to the Danish Data Protection Agency (Datatilsynet).

“This is a very regrettable matter which I take very seriously. This is a case of an employee who has grossly abused their access to personal information and whom we have fired and reported to police,” director of SIRI Trine Rask Thygesen said in the statement.

“We will do everything we can to stop it happening again. We will therefore also review our existing procedures and guidelines to see whether we can do more to prevent misuse of access to personal information,” she said.