University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Decline in applications, but UCPH still rejecting large numbers

Admissions 2017 — UCPH is admitting 7,270 new students. The natural sciences are attracting more, while the humanities subjects are attracting less. See which programmes are the hardest to get into - and read why UCPH wants to abolish the grade bonus.

Friday night had 7,270 people being offered a place at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). More than 6,000 of them – about 85 per cent – can start the study programme that they marked as their first priority.

Despite a considerable decline in the number of applications for higher education institutions this year, UCPH is not struggling to fill up its classrooms and auditoria and has kept admissions at last year’s level.

“I noticed first that although we have fallen in the number of applications by almost six per cent, we have admitted almost as many as last year,” says Pernille Kindtler, Head of Section at the Education Services office at the University of Copenhagen.

More opting for science

UCPH still rejects the applications of many young people.

One example is the Faculty of Humanities. Here, the decline in applications has been the greatest (16.2 per cent), but more than 7,000 have still applied for the less than 2,000 seats that have been offered.


This may indicate that applicants, generally speaking, have applied for programmes where there is room for them.
Pernille Kindtler, Head of Section at the University Education Services, University of Copenhagen

“We have also seen a decrease in the number of first-priority applications of around five per cent. Yet in spite of this, there are actually more applicants who have achieved admission on their first priority than in 2016,” says Pernille Kindtler.

“This may indicate that applicants, generally speaking, have applied for programmes where there is room for them.”

Especially in the natural science programmes – that are currently being highlighted as the most relevant in the public debate – there has been the capacity to accommodate more students, says Pernille Kindtler:

“There are only four programmes at the Faculty of Science where there are places still available. Last year there were six. And the number has previously been higher. The Faculty of Science also has the largest increase in the number of admitted students – almost five per cent.”

Required grade averages still high – and boosted artificially

Required grade averages have not fallen at the University of Copenhagen, although fewer have applied to study this year.

The most difficult study programme to enter is Psychology. In the last few years it has been the Molecular Biomedicine programme.

“The University is privileged. We get many first priority applications, and we also get many applications from people with good qualifications. There has always been a buffer,” says Pernille Kindtler. “There are more than 14 programmes where the required grade average is 10 or more [on the Danish 12 points grade system, ed.].”

UCPH’s highest required grade point averages 2017

1. Psychology: 11.5
2. Molecular Biomedicine: 11.4
3. Political Science + Medicine: 11,2
4. Actuarial mathematics: 11.1

Pernille Kindtler says that the required grade averages are so high partly as an effect of the so-called quick start bonus.

“We wanted to remove it, because it artificially boosts the grades. An average of 12 may end up at 13.7, going off the scale “

There are two problems with the bonus-inflated grade averages, says Kindtler.

“First, there is no evidence that a student who starts quickly on a study programme is a better student than one who waits a little. So for us, the rule means that we are not allowed to admit those who are really the most qualified. Secondly, it’s stupid to push students who might need good time to consider their options and make a choice. Their opt-in may later become and opt-out.”


The worst thing I hear - as a student counselor - is the phrase from young people: 'Now I am going to use my grade average for something'
Pernille Kindtler, Head of Section, Education Service at the University of Copenhagen

The UCPH criticism of the bonus for quick student starters is supported by the Confederation of Danish Enterprise Dansk Erhverv, which in a 28th July press release blames politicians for giving young people the ‘wrong incentives’.

Don’t choose a subject based on grade average

Pernille Kindtler points out that nothing indicates that programmes with a low required grade average (like say, chemistry) should be easier to study than those with a high one (like say, film and media studies).

“The required grade average is only the price you pay to be admitted to the programme, defined by supply and demand,” says Pernille Kindtler.

“But the required grade averages may fool some people. The worst thing I know – as a student counselor – is when I hear the young people say ‘now I am going to use my grade average for something’. For example, if your dream is to study physics, but have a grade average of over 11 and feel the pressure to apply for a subject that may not be your main interest. I think that’s a pity.”

UCPH takes in more women than men

For many years, the University of Copenhagen has admitted far more women than men, and the trend continues this year. 4,382 women have been offered a place, against only 2,888 men.

Is the gender distribution a concern?

“Basically, no,” says Pernille Kindtler. “Some education programmes are particularly attractive to one gender, and I do not think it should give rise to concern. But we try to communicate about our education programmes in a way that they are relevant to all.”

Follow University Post on Facebook.