What is a

sports folk high school? 

Sønderborg sports folk high school

A Danish folk high school, often referred to as a “højskole” in Danish, is a unique type of educational institution in Denmark. These schools are residential, non-formal, and adult education centers that offer courses and programs covering a wide range of subjects, including arts, humanities, sciences, and practical skills.

Idrætshøjskolen Sønderborg is typically chosen by individuals aged 18-25 as a gap year before or during their academic journey and are used as an opportunity to have unique experiences in a fun environment and meet new people, which develop into lifelong friendships.

Folk high schools were established in the 19th century by Danish educator N.F.S. Grundtvig as part of a movement to provide education for adults, with a focus on personal development, cultural enrichment, and community engagement. The philosophy behind folk high schools emphasizes a holistic approach to education, encouraging students to explore their interests, engage in critical thinking, and participate actively in a supportive community.

Residential Setting: Students typically live on campus, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. The residential nature of the schools allows for a more immersive and communal learning experience.

Non-Formal Education: Folk high schools do not provide formal academic degrees or certifications. Instead, they focus on personal growth, creativity, and fostering a love of learning.

Diverse Course Offerings: Courses at folk high schools cover a wide range of subjects, including sports, arts, music, philosophy, outdoor activities, and more. (See under “subjects”) The goal is to provide a well-rounded education that goes beyond traditional academic disciplines.

Student-Centered Approach: The learning environment encourages active participation, dialogue, and collaboration among students. Teachers, often referred to as “course leaders,” play a facilitative role, guiding discussions and activities rather than delivering lectures.

Democratic Values: Folk high schools embody democratic principles, encouraging open debate, critical thinking, and active citizenship. Students are encouraged to express their opinions and engage in decision-making processes within the community.

Practical information

At IHS you get accommodation, food and teaching for 1,775 DKK per week.

We start a new class twice a year in the spring and fall.

See specific dates when you apply

Both semesters are divided into more periods, so you can choose more subjects during your stay.

Spring Folk High School // 24 or 25 weeks

1st Period : indoor period + skiing trip to the Alps 

2nd periode: outdoor period

  • Additional option: Trip to Iceland (+ 1 week)

Fall Folk High School // 19 or 21 weeks

1st period: outdoor period + trip to Crete

2nd Period: Indoor period.

  • Additional option: Trip to Tanzania & Zanzibar (+ 2 weeks)


What happens during the indoor period?

Here we focus on indoor sports and our outdoor sports are adapted as best as possible to be done indoors, with a twist.

What happens during the outdoor period?

In addition to our own facilities – beach volleyball, football and various fitness subjects – our location close to the water and the forest provides unique opportunities to participate in activities like kitesurfing, windsurfing, adventure, mountain biking, sailing and several other sports.

Common to both periods

In addition to all the sports subjects, we also have many formative and perspectival subjects where your personal development and social skills come into play.


We are constantly developing our range of subjects. The subjects you find on the website are valid for the current semester.

However, we reserve the right to make adjustments and adaptations according to the number of students in the semester.

Subjects to choose from

You can read about our subjects here on the website. At the beginning of your stay all the subjects will be presented. Afterwards you can choose a subject from four different subject blocks; specialization subjects, sports subjects, interest subjects and subjects of general nature.

Click on the tab “our subjects” to find more information about the subjects

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