University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Eske Willerslev and Jesper Grodal win the Board researcher seats

University elections 2019 — Both researcher seats on the University of Copenhagen board went to candidates from the 'Involve the researchers!' list. The Student Council’s Olivia Boesen won the students' mandate, while Dorte Brix was elected by the technical and administrative staff.

The university elections in 2019 took place after principled debates about conditions for the University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) researchers, administrative and technical staff, and students.

Researchers debated staff involvement and top down management at the university, and ended up selecting two notable exponents for more researcher power.

Other members of staff debated the question of trade union power and the prospect of getting a person elected who had a managerial role. And students attempted, in an unconventional election alliance between the social democrat Frit Forum and the centre-right list of Conservative Students, tried to make the UCPH outrage culture a major election theme.

The researchers: Five election lists, but one of them took it all

Five election lists fought for the researchers’ two seats on the Board of the University of Copenhagen, and both places went to the list Involve the researchers! which was led by Professor in GeoGenetics Eske Willerslev. No. 2 on the list, Professor of Mathematics Jesper Grodal, was also elected.

Willerslev and Grodal campaigned for researchers to get more influence on the university’s important decisions. In an election interview for the University Post, they strongly criticised the current management.

»It has been driven off the rails through top-down management. The researchers are not only not behind the decisions, they are not involved before these huge transformations are put into affect. We want to address this,« said Jesper Grodal.

READ ALSO: »It feels like the decision makers don’t know what they are doing«

Willerslev got 142 personal votes, and Grodal got 104, a lower number than Professor Flemming Dela, who was the only candidate on the KU SUND list, with 218 personal votes, as well as Associate Professor Ravinder Kaur from the list Democratic University – which got 202. The reason both mandates went to ‘Involve the researchers!’ was a large number of list votes (448), and the fact that individual candidates on this list also drew a number of votes, which helped Willerslev and Grodal.

Ravinder Kaur’s list was in an electoral alliance with the list ‘Måske KU vi?’, and was close to getting a mandate – the two lists got 471 votes in total. Had they received 528 votes in total, the second mandate would have gone to Kaur.

The turnout among researchers for the board election was 29.2 per cent. 2,047 people voted.

Students: Landslide for Student Council candidate

Only 16.8 per cent of the University of Copenhagen’s approx. 40,000 students took part in the election for student representatives on the powerful board.

This is a typical turnout for the student body, and the [independent, non-Student Council group, ed.] Frit Forum’s campaign this year against outrage culture did not manage to get the university’s many students up from their sofas.

The Student Council’s top candidate, Olivia Boesen, won a safe victory with 1,438 personal voices at the election for the Board. This was more than the independent Frit Forum and Conservative Students lists could muster, even in combination. To add to this, there were several thousand list votes for the Student Council and their supporting lists.

»I’m very pleased to see that there is so much support for the Student Council. It’s amazing,« says Olivia Boesen.

»I have now spent many months talking about what I want to do, so it’s nice that I now actually get the opportunity to do it.«

What are the first topics you will try to get on the agenda?

»A student life without stress and loneliness. And the climate agenda.«

READ ALSO: Students shouldn’t have to struggle with stress and loneliness

7,151 students voted.

TAP mandate went to Dorte Brix, defeating a manager

1,461 – representing 33.9 per cent of full-time technical-administrative (TAP) staff – voted in the election. Result: A resounding victory for Dorte Brix, who is a laboratory coordinator.

Brix had strong support from the university’s union representatives and represents the HK Danish Laboratory Technician Association in the university’s collaboration committee. She got 406 personal votes, and her first substitute Alexander Memedi got 287.

Her opponent Anne Marie Shuhaiber Clemensen got 157 personal votes.

The election campaign between administrative staff was about representation. In an e-mail, the union representative for HK laboratory technicians Joan Lykkeaa advised against voting for Clemensen because she is a middle manager (she is a department administrator). »We do not want a manager taking care of our interests in the Board, do we?« Lykkeaa wrote – a message that she repeated in the University Post.

Anne Marie Shuhaiber Clemensen countered that she was independent of any union organisation.

In her election interview with the University Post, Dorte Brix said that she will work on the Board to make university management more aware of administrative staff – as in recent years staff loyalty has suffered.

Other elections

In addition to the Board election, the University of Copenhagen students and staff had to select from a raft of candidates for academic councils, study boards and PhD committees.

The Conservative Students had a good election at the Faculty of Law, where they won places on the Academic Council and on the study board for both bachelor’s and master’s programmes.

A list of all the election results can be found here (PDF).