University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Director: University heading towards abyss

Universities now need to know where they stand, says university director Jørgen Honoré. As financial meltdown looms, he calls for a political deal on financing

The University of Copenhagen is heading directly into the financial abyss. This is the stark warning of university director Jørgen Honoré, in a recent interview with the University Post’s Danish-language section Universitetsavisen. And only a wide, cross-party, political agreement on university finances, valid for many years in the future, will save it.

According to University of Copenhagen projections, income will drop more than DKK 400 million from 2011 to 2014 as a result of planned cuts to the budget. This includes a DKK 80 million cut as a result of the government’s recent economic reconstruction plan.

»The financing is not good enough, and the economic uncertainty has never been greater in my time as director. The financial abyss has moved forward to the New Year 2011-2012,« says Jørgen Honoré.

Billions in the balance

The precarious situation is due to universities not knowing what plans the government has with a DKK 1.36 billion Globalisation Fund to be distributed in 2012.

A further DKK 3.9 billion in 2013 and DKK 4.2 billion in 2014, currently on the books in the Ministry of Finance, is also in the balance. It may not be going to the universities.

»As long as the money is not channeled over into the Ministry of Science, we cannot be certain that it will go to research and education. We need to see the numbers in writing before we use it,« says the university director.

Will not gamble

University of Copenhagen has a net capital reserve of over DKK 400 million, but the university director rejects the use of these funds to get through the hard times.

If we were certain that we had a decline in income of DKK 100 to DKK 200 million for just one year, management could consider using our savings, and then building up our capital again in subsequent years. But it looks like we are facing a long-term decrease in grants, he explains.

»The criterium is whether it is a permanent or temporary decrease, and we don’t dare gamble on the latter. DKK 400 million doesn’t go far when you compare to the magnitude of the decrease in income that we face,« Jørgen Honoré says.

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