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Why Copenhagen is one of the cheapest cities in the world to attend international school

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Why Copenhagen is one of the cheapest cities in the world to attend international school
Danish laws keep the cost of international schools low. Photo by rivage on Unsplash

New research has been published placing Copenhagen as one of the cheapest cities in the world for international school fees. The result is no surprise, by why are private international school costs so low in a relatively expensive country like Denmark?


The annually-published International Schools Database is a comparison of international schools in cities across four continents.

First published in 2019 and updated annually, the research now has worldwide price data from 75 cities in 49 countries. It plots this data in graphs that display the upper and higher limits of international school fees, along with the mid-range and median values.

Copenhagen is the 71st most expensive of the 75 cities on the least, with only Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Kampala (Uganda), Cape Town (South Africa) and Ipoh-Perak (Malaysia) offering cheaper international schools. That also makes Copenhagen the cheapest in Europe.

By far the most important factor keeping private school (including international school) costs low in Denmark is the fact that they are heavily subsidised by the state.

Private schools (friskoler og privatskoler in Danish) are regulated in a special law for private schools.

Under the law, private schools receive 75 percent of the average cost per student in public subsidies. Although this covers a large proportion of their costs, parents are still charged fees – albeit lower fees than in almost all other countries.

READ ALSO: 'The cheapest in Europe': A guide to international schools in Denmark

The combination of state subsidies and fees mean that school budgets per student are often higher at private schools than at Denmark’s state schools, folkeskoler.

“We believe that Denmark has (comparatively) cheap international education available because in Denmark government-approved private schools (including international schools) often receive the same amount of government funding as public ones,” Andrea Robledillo, co-founder of International Schools Database, told The Local back in 2019.


“This may explain why education is so affordable - comparatively speaking - in Copenhagen, as international schools in the rest of the world tend not to be subsidised (or are only partially subsidised) and the full cost of them is normally paid by parents,” he said.

That is “still the case” in 2024, Robledillo said via email after the latest edition of the research was published on Wednesday.

Only those cities with seven or more international schools, and with prices publicly available representing at least 25 percent of the schools in the city, are used in the ranking. Prices were converted from the local currency into US dollars. It should also be noted that there may be additional international schools in the cities discussed in the research which have not been included because their data was not available.



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