University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Finns studying in Danish - can't speak a word of Danish

A so-called Nordic Language Convention is forcing the University of Copenhagen to admit students with absolutely no knowledge of Danish into Danish-language programmes

Not knowing any Danish is apparently not considered to be a problem for students to follow Danish-language courses. At least if they come from Finland.

Due to the Nordic Language Convention students from Finland, even if they don’t know a word of Danish, are accepted straight into Danish universities just on the basis of their high school diploma.

“It is an agreement between Nordic countries that we accept each others languages,” Pernille Kindtler, chief consultant for Admittance and Guidance at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) states to the University Post.

Proof of linguistic competence not required

Many courses at this University of Copenhagen are in English, but because of the convention, students from Finland can be admitted to Danish-language programmes in Danish universities without knowing a word of Danish.

Minerva Pietllä, who was admitted to the Danish-language literary studies at UCPH, is one of those students.

“The admissions process was quite straight-forward as a fill-the-form type of thing. Submitting my certificates and grades etc. As a Nordic citizen I wasn’t required to have a residence permit or give proof of linguistic competence or anything like that,” she says.

No skills in Danish whatsoever

Minerva came to Denmark expecting her programme to be in English. She is now in an English-language program at Roskilde University after realizing that she wouldn’t be able to complete the program at UCPH. She did not understand anything the first few weeks.

Minerva takes full responsibility for the misunderstanding, but adds:

“However, their misunderstanding was admitting someone into a Danish language study with no skills in Danish whatsoever.”

Non-Nordics have to prove their Danish skills

According to Pernille Kindtler of UCPH, newcomers who are not from countries in the Nordic area have to prove their abilities by either taking classes, a comprehensive test, or applying for dispensation.

Do you have a good story? We would like to hear from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook for features, guides and tips on upcoming events and follow us on Twitter for links to other Copenhagen academia news stories.