University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Firing at home, hiring abroad

The University of Copenhagen is firing its own staff while actively seeking international PhDs. This apparent paradox has a simple explanation, according to the Faculty Director of Life Sciences

»Boost your Career in Copenhagen!« is the headline of the job advertisement placed in the latest issue of SCIENCE magazine, by the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Sciences, Pharma, Health and Life sciences.

However, the advertising gloss is marred by the fact that while the University of Copenhagen actively recruits overseas, the university is in the process of firing 130 employees on the home front.

Good salary and prestigious degree

The Danish news website for researchers ForskerForum drew attention to the advertisement which appeals to a wide audience of international PhDs.

»The University of Copenhagen is Denmark’s leading University, based in its capital city and one of the top institutes for research and education in Europe,« it says in the ad.

It promises potential PhD students a wage of DKK 26.500 per month, boasting that »the University of Copenhagen is ranked 1st in Scandinavia and 8th in Europe on the ARWU 2009 Academic Ranking of World Universities«.

Funds already earmarked to PhDs

One of the hardest hit of the affected faculties, the Faculty of Life Sciences, has already named the 50 staff members who have lost their jobs.

To the University Post, director Søren Hartz of the Faculty of Life Sciences says that the funding for admitting the international PhDs has been earmarked specifically for this purpose by politicians.

»This is one of the core elements in the recent globalisation accord (2010 political agreement, ed.) and the funds are earmarked to PhDs, so the hiring of international PhDs makes good sense,« Søren Hartz says.

Tutors fired

The University Post has not yet been able to reach staff representative Leif Søndergaard for a comment on the specific advertisement campaign for international PhDs. But he and other staff representatives have criticised the firing process in general, and in particular the fact that PhD students have experienced the sacking of their tutors.

»The younger scientists are asking themselves: Is there a future for me at at the university at all? Or should I instead look elsewhere before I get too old?,« he wrote in a recent featured article on University Post.

Firing staff is not good branding of the university abroad, Leif Søndergaard wrote in the recent featured article.

»Ph.d.-students are wondering how the university management can see fit to fire their tutor. I have heard of an international PhD student, who had just come to Denmark because they had heard that the University of Copenhagen was a good place to study, and who is in complete shock because their tutor has been fired«. and