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Dean: New Anthropology head of department by this coming summer

Response — Dean Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen has appointed himself as temporary head of the Department of Anthropology. This has been criticized by the chairman of the Board of Studies. But the criticism includes a number of mistakes, the Dean writes in this response.

It is legitimate to disagree with the way I manage the Faculty of Social Sciences. But at a university the facts need to be straight.

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Despite good research, the intake of external research funding has dropped significantly at the Department of Anthropology. Despite talented students, graduates from Anthropology have significantly higher unemployment than at the faculty’s other study programmes.


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Since 2018, external research grants to Anthropology have dropped by 33 per cent. This year, the department’s researchers are 20 per cent below the faculty’s average. With an expected DKK 3.6 million loss at the end of the year, the intake of funding needs therefore to be significantly increased in the coming years.

With the decision to implement the [Danish government, ed.] regionalisation requirements, the Faculty of Social Sciences has to reduce the annual admissions in Copenhagen by 180 student places. In the framework for regionalisation set by the Board of the University of Copenhagen, unemployment is a key element. The unemployment rate in Anthropology measured over 4-7 quarters after graduation was at 17.9 per cent in 2021, while the unemployment rate for Economics was 1.7 per cent. Closest to Anthropology, Sociology had an unemployment rate of 12.4 per cent.

Reductions distributed evenly

The decision to implement the faculty’s reduction entails that admission to anthropology is reduced by 25 places on the bachelor’s degree and 12 places on the master’s. In Sociology, admissions will be reduced by a total of 28 places. Admission to Economics will be reduced by 30 places, while admission to Political Science and Psychology will be reduced by 35 and 50 places, respectively. So the faculty’s reduction of 180 student places has been distributed widely so that all degree programmes have a sufficiently critical mass of students, also in the future.

To balance the Faculty of Social Sciences’ budgets, it has been necessary to find permanent savings of DKK 15 million a year. Of the DKK 15 million, DKK 5.2 million was distributed among the five departments. As part of this, the Department of Anthropology has to cut DKK 1.5 million, corresponding to 10 per cent of the total cuts at the faculty.


One element in the faculty’s cuts is the dismissal of ten employees, which includes both technical and administrative staff and academic staff. These dismissals are based on principles agreed in the faculty’s collaboration committee and are in accordance with the UCPH rules for dismissal.

After the department head at Anthropology resigned his position, a process has been initiated to find a new head. On 25 October, the outgoing department head and I, together the staff representatives at the department, agreed that at the meeting on 7 November we would discuss the appointment process, and the employees’ expectations for the period until a new head of department is hired.

The goal is to appoint a new department head at Anthropology before the summer holidays to start in the course of 2023.

On the basis of Mikkel Vedby’s response, Heiko Henkel has sent the following to the University Post:

»The Dean’s calculation is misleading. It conceals the fact that the Department of Anthropology is much smaller than the other departments. Also the cutbacks were organised in a way that only two academic staff were fired on the basis of the cost reductions (one at Sociology, but another academic was hired at the same time). The Dean’s comments on research funding are misleading because he fails to mention that it is quite natural that the income from research funding fluctuates. Anthropology is also coming from a very high level, and that there are many new applications and projects in the pipeline. Regarding unemployment, it is important to emphasise that we are only talking about unemployment shortly after completion of the study programme. In the longer term there are no major differences between the subject areas.«