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University of Copenhagen
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Canteens point to ´not enough customers´, ´contracts´

They seem to be always closed when you need them the most. But by the University of Copenhagen canteens' own reckoning there is not enough demand for longer service, and then there are contractual obligations

Why on earth are the University of Copenhagen canteens open for shorter hours than other universities?

An honest question asked by Xiaozhou Li, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences who was ‘fed up’ (no pun intended) of the hole in her stomach in the evening. All she really wanted to do was to work on campus.

The canteens that the University Post spoke to claim a lack of demand for evening and weekend service.

“We are 1½ employes and with 37 hours work a week it can’t be longer. I don’t think there are enough customers to extend opening hours. We can’t earn enough to pay the food and the staff for more hours,” says Maria Houmøller, the chef at the Niels Bohr Institute’s in-house canteen. Her response is typical of a number of canteens with short opening hours.

Breakfast only drew a few customers

Most canteens on UCPH campuses are operated by a food service company known as Chartwells. Operating hours of the University’s canteens have been determined through negotiations between Chartwell’s and UCPH are codified in a contract.

A change in the operating hours of the canteens would require a renegotiation. Most of the chefs that the University Post spoke to, don’t have the authority to extend the hours themselves, but can only explain why.

“We’re open from 11 to 14 because of the agreement between our company and the university. We have tried to open at breakfast but we only drew a few customers. We’re only open for lunch because that’s when we get the most customers,” says Dorte Hansen, the chef at Gumle Canteen.

H.C. Ørsted open for longer

At the H.C. Ørsted Institute at the Faculty of Science, students and scientists have slightly better conditions, but still no open evenings.

“I can only speak for the canteen at HcØ. Our opening hours are: Monday-Thursday: 08.00-15.00; Friday: 08.00-14.00. It´s a little bit difficult to extend the opening hours, since our work hours are 07.00-15.00. However, the canteen at the department of sport sciences is open until 20.00 every day,” says Eric Burstrøm, chef at the H.C. Ørsted Institute’s canteen.

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