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Funding worries continue for Danish universities

Staff and students will spend the greater part of this year not knowing whether or not the university is in serious financial trouble from 2013. This is after politicians refused to commit to long-term funding

Neither the Minister of Education nor representatives of the opposition gave any indication as to the future funding of Danish universities during a conference 16 january on Danish universities at the University of Copenhagen.

The so-called ‘globalisation fund’ – which is supposed to put Denmark on the map as a leading country in terms growth, knowledge and new business – ends at the end of 2012. Danish politicians have yet to commit to any further funding. And with the economic crisis, they might not do so at all.

Management at the University of Copenhagen has warned that the university may have DKK 100-300 million less per annum from 2012.

Ill-timed negotiations

Jørgen Honoré, the university director, has appealed directly to politicians. Settle on a long-term agreement on university funding, so the universities know what sort of income to expect over the next few years, he has previously argued.

Read: Director: University heading towards abyss

»We have to make our initial budgets for 2013 before Easter, so it’s no good not knowing anything until after the budget bill negotiations at the end of the year. Would you please keep this in mind?« he said to the politicians Tuesday.

According to the Danish constitution, a budget bill proposal has to be presented to the government at least four months before the start of the fiscal year. The negotiations take place in the late autumn, and an agreement is reached in December.

Minister: ‘Promote yourselves’

Sofie Carsten Nielsen, MP for the Social Liberal Party, said that they could not have an agreement ready by Easter.

»We say ‘yes please’ to long-term funding for the universities, but we also have to acknowledge the political reality: The politicians are elected by people with different interests, and how the money should be prioritised is still being discussed,« she said.

She encouraged universities to promote themselves and prove their long-term worth to the general population.

Chasing answers

Politicians from the centre-right opposition criticised the present government for not taking a clear stance, though Tina Nedergaard of the opposition party Venstre admitted that they hadn’t been overly generous with long-term funding when they were in power themselves either.

She added that the Danish people were increasingly accepting the investment in universities.

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