University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Bonus? That is for UCPH managers to give each other

Wage trends — Employees who have the job title of ‘manager’ get significantly higher one-off bonuses than the university's other employees, according to figures from the website

“One-off remuneration is granted for a special effort up and above ordinary duties”, it states in the University of Copenhagen University salary policy.

If this is correct, the employees with a title of manager must be doing a much better job than the university’s other employees.

This is according to a calculation by the University Post based on figures from the website, which is based on the actual wages paid out to state employees – including the University of Copenhagen.

Top managers got the most

According to the statement, 159 employees with a manager title received an average of DKK 19,143 in one-off remunerations in 2017, while the other employees had to settle for DKK 3,232 on average.

This is a kind of self-service buffet, as the managers give each other bonuses.

Henning Jørgensen, labour market researcher

If you only look at the top managers at university; for the 6 deans, 6 faculty directors, 34 heads of department, 11 associate deans and 8 deputy directors, the bonus was an average of DKK 34,950 on top of their normal salary.

In addition to the 159 with a ‘manager’ job title which the University Post has found on, there are UCPH employees with responsibilities for personnel (like research group managers) that have a job title of, say, associate professor or professor. It has not been possible to identify them.

Managers get the bonuses easier

The figures do not surprise Henning Jørgensen, professor at the Centre for Labour Market Research at Aalborg University.

He says it is much easier for managers to get a bonus than employees working in daily operations.

This is how we did it

  • The calculation is based on figures from the website Lø, where the Danish government’s Agency for the Modernisation of the Public Sector collects salary payments for all employees on state collective agreements.
  • The number of employees is counted in FTE (full-time equivalent). So a full-time employee counts as 1.0 FTE, while a part-time employee is 0.5 FTE.
  • Loenoverblik does not include job titles with less than 3 FTE.
  • Employees with a looser connection to the workplace, such as employees on subsidised salaries, reduced-hours jobs and with jobs of less than 8 working hours per week are not included.
  • Senior consultants are excluded from the calculation as the job category contains both managers and employees. There are also managers, like managers of research groups, included in the job category of professors. But it has not been possible to calculate how many there are as it would require a review of the individual’s employment contract.
  • All averages are weighted according to the number of FTE in each job category.

“This is a kind of self-service buffet, as the managers give each other bonuses,” says Henning Jørgensen.

According to UCPH salary policy, individual managers negotiate salaries with their own supervising manager.

Bonus for delay

According to the labour market researcher, many managers in public service today are on fixed-term contracts. They can therefore negotiate different individual bonuses themselves, and in many cases the payment of the money does not depend on how well they have performed.

As an example, he mentions the case of the director of the new light rail line in Aarhus, who got a DKK 1.4 million bonus in addition to his DKK 2.1 million annual salary. This was even though the budget was exceeded by 50 per cent, the light rail service was delayed, and the opening celebration had to be cancelled.

“They justify the need for bonuses to attract good public managers, but this is nonsense as studies show that there is virtually no exchange of managers between the public and private sector,” he says.

DKK 500,000 bonus

Documents received by the University Post under the Freedom of Information Act includes bonuses of up to half a million kroner paid at UCPH last year to scientists who managed their own research group.

It was the US stem cell scientist Steven Goldman who got DKK 500,000 on top of his annual salary of DKK 1.754 million. He is the university’s best paid after rector.

His wife Maiken Nedergaard also received a DKK 375,000 bonus. The couple moved to Denmark in 2014 after 30 years in the United States to set up the Center for Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

Neuroscientist and Professor Ole Kiehn, who received DKK 200,000, says that he received the bonus when he moved his research to UCPH from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, when he got a Laureate Research Grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“The bonus is paid from this, just like my salary is, and just like the salaries of my employees,” he says.

Martin Gustaf Ehrensvärd, who has been paid approximately DKK 100,000, explains that he is employed as associate professor at the Faculty of Theology for 1/3 of his working time. In 2017 he had large work assignments at other faculties in connection with the projects ‘collegial feedback’ and ‘resources space for grammatical learning’. The salary was subsequently paid out in a one-off payment and therefore appears as a bonus.

The others on the list did not wish to participate in this article.

The 10 largest bonuses in 2017

1. Steven Goldman, professor and head of the Center for translational Neuromedicine: DKK 500,000

2. Maiken Nedergaard, professor and head of the Center for translational Neuromedicine: DKK 375,000

3. Sonja Joy Vermeulen, no longer employed at UCPH: DKK 370,755

4. Cathal John Mahon, vice president of the Quantum Innovation Center (Qubiz): DKK 220,000

5. Ole Kiehn, neuroscientist and professor: DKK 200,000

6. Søren Isaksen is no longer employed at UCPH: DKK 195,000

7. Jorge Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Niels Bohr Professor at the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute: DKK 132,200

8. Charles M. Marcus, professor and head of the Center for Quantum devices at the Niels Bohr Institute: DKK 125,000

9. Martin Gustaf Ehrensvärd, associate professor at the Faculty of Theology: DKK 106,131

10 Juliette Miriam Fritsch, senior consultant at the Danish Natural History Museum: DKK 99,000

(The one-off remunerations are from recruitment supplements, bonuses/results-based salary and for remuneration for temporary tasks and/or special/extraordinary efforts. The statement does not include severance payments, final disbursements in connection with Marie Curie grants, availability duty allowances and fees for participation in councils and boards.)

Not enough money for fixed supplementary allowances

Signe Møller Johansen, staff representative for technical-administrative (TAP) employees organised in the AC organisation has, in connection with a previous article, said to the Universiy Post that staff representatives often find that too little funding is being set aside for fixed supplementary allowances to employees in the annual salary negotiations.

It varies from faculty to faculty, but generally there is more money for one-off remunerations, and this can mean that experienced employees with a good deal of UCPH experience have stagnating salaries, the staff representative thinks.

“At the AC Club, we have been concerned with compliance with the university’s own remuneration policy. In particular with the stipulation that salary policies should emphasise equal treatment in comparable functions and qualifications, but also that they should be open and transparent, so It is clear what is needed to go forward in terms of salary,” she said.

Predictable difference

Tina Wandall, staff representative for biomedical technicians at UCPH, finds that little funding has been set aside for salary improvements for employees at the university.

In her own field, there are sometimes no funds and generally only between 0.3 and 0.5 per cent of payroll.

“The size of one-off remunerations are affected by the level of pay, since a one-off remuneration must be able to be noticed. So someone with a low salary-level will get a small remuneration, while more is required for someone with a high salary. So there is some predictability in any differences there are in wage trends,” she says.

UCPH: Management does not recognise the numbers

Management has previously refused to comment on the University Post salary numbers, which are based on data from

“The University of Copenhagen states that it does not recognize the numbers that the University Post has calculated. The University of Copenhagen does not believe the numbers are correct. The university has found, for example, in connection with the threatened industrial dispute, that there are more staff with managerial responsibilities at the university than the University Post shows (research managers, deputy department heads, centre managers, etc). In the University Post calculation they are listed as associate professors and professors, that is, as employees and not managers. This is just one example of how the data that the University Post presents is misleading,” UCPH writes in a statement.