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Copenhagen under threat from rival Aarhus

New figures show UCPH may lose its position as Denmark's largest university. Aarhus University got only 138 fewer students this year. Copenhagen plans to fight back

The University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) leading position is under threat from national rival University of Aarhus, according to Ministry of Education figures

This year’s intake of 7,268 students has almost been matched by Aarhus University’s acceptance of 7,130. A trend that has become increasingly obvious since 2010, with Aarhus coming close in student numbers to UCPH, according to ministry statements.

Denmark’s oldest, and traditionally largest university is now facing calls for comprehensive physical improvements in order to reverse the trend and create room for students at the university.

UCPH struggles to increase space

Overcrowding is one of the largest reasons that UCPH has such restricted growth. The limit for admissions has been met each year and the great demand for student places in the capital could not be met.

»We are so to speak, unable to grow, our capacity has been fully exploited,« says UCPH study director Claus Nielsen. »Every time we absorb more students a new space must be created for each one of them« he continues.

Other Danish universities such as the University of Southern Denmark and Aalborg University have had numerous places available in recent years. This meant they could offer courses without access restrictions for every applicant. Aalborg, for example, increased its intake by 18 per cent this year compared to last. At UCPH it was a struggle to increase space for five per cent.

Copenhagen remains first choice

However, UCPH remains the first choice on application for more students than their competitors. This means that higher grades are required to enter UCPH, driving applicants to other universities.

According to UCPH’s own figures it received 12,609 first choice applications compared to 9,140 at AU. So even if Aarhus is creeping up on Copenhagen in terms of undergraduate numbers, UCPH remains by far the most popular university.

See a previous article on UCPH overbooking places here

New space on the way

To cope with ever larger student numbers there must be more student places. A new wave of construction is under way, with thousands of square metres of new space under development.

The university is located in the city there is a natural limit to how far the university buildings can spread, so it is important to utilise the space better than we do today, says Vice President and Head of Campus Services Anders Boe Hauggaard.

He mentions the prestige projects Panum tower and the Niels Bohr Science Park as examples of modern thinking. A science campus with student cafés where scientists from all disciplines can collaborate in an inspiring environment.

New buildings will help

The Ministry of Education wants more young people to enter higher education, and the University building spree is a reaction to the expected student growth, argues Anders Boe Hauggaard.

»Construction projects are created in close collaboration with [UCPH’s administration unit] Education Service, which together with the faculties provides forecasts for student admission,« says Anders Boe Hauggaard.

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