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The government is to offer the University of Copenhagen a rent discount of up to DKK 100 million a year, pending a number of unsettled arbitration cases. At the same time, the minister promises to help the university if the final rent level is »unsustainable«.
After a long period of hesitation, the Danish government now steps in to rescue the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) in the wake of the Niels Bohr Building scandal.
The university will now not have to pay the full DKK 200 million a year rent when the building is scheduled to be completed in July 2022. The university will instead have to pay the original rent of approximately DKK 91 million a year – plus cost increases resulting from requests by the University of Copenhagen itself.
This is according to the Minister for Higher Education and Science Jesper Petersen in a statement that was released the same day he answered questions on the issue in an open consultation in parliament.
The university will pay the lower rent while a number of arbitration cases are pending. The University of Copenhagen has instituted an arbitration case against the Danish Building and Property Agency, and the agency has itself claims pending on a number of contractors.
Should the outcome of these cases end up in a large rent increase to the University of Copenhagen, then the minister promises that the government will try to help the university.
»We also want to send a clear signal that if the rent ends up being completely unsustainable for the University of Copenhagen, then the government will seek support from the Danish parliament for aid in this situation,« Jesper Petersen says in a press release.
»This is important because it is, ultimately, about funding education and research. And we want UCPH funding to go to this rather than an unfortunate building case.«
His message was well-received at the University of Copenhagen.
»We are extremely pleased that the government and the minister will focus on this, and that the UCPH funding should go to education and research rather than on extra bills for buildings. This is very positive,« says Uffe Gebauer Thomsen, who is Deputy Director of Campus Service at the University of Copenhagen.
The University of Copenhagen was otherwise lined up for paying an outsized rent for the Niels Bohr Building as the rent was determined by the final building costs. And these costs have exploded from the original DKK 1.8 billion to DKK 4.6 billion.
This led to the expected annual rent increasing by approximately DKK 100 million. It is this increase that the government wants to protect the University of Copenhagen from as long as the arbitration court proceedings are in progress.
The Kammeradvokaten law firm, which functions as legal adviser to the Danish government, reckons that the cases will conclude during 2023.