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Over the last few years, the University of Copenhagen has gotten smaller. But it has accepted a record amount of students and hired more staff. Students and staff complain, but management argues that less space doesn't equal worse conditions
Tiny classrooms where the last students to arrive have to sit in window sills. Lecture rooms where the people at the back cannot see or hear anything. Packed offices with staff sitting packed like sardines. Job seekers who turn down a position at the country’s finest university because of the physical conditions.
Considering UCPH’s large-scale building projects, it may seem strange that there are now more people using less space than before. Between 2008 and 2012 UCPH has reduced its overall work/study area by 45,000 m2, and at the same time the university has accepted more students than ever.
Less space is a plus in budgeting terms – at the University board meeting in October last year it was specifically stated that “UCPH has succeeded in reducing its total area by 15 percent per student-year.”
Since 2001, UCPH has rented its buildings from the state, so to keep costs down the university has reduced its overall physical space by 70,000 m2. Its aim is to have reduced it by 100,000 m2. In order to do so, the University terminates leases of equivalent volumes, as and when to new buildings are ready to use.
“If the University spends less on rent, there is more to spend on education and research.” says Hans Halvorsen, Head of the Programme Committee and responsible for UCPH’s buildings. “UCPH has got more people per m2 than in 2005, but the space is utilised better. For example, many new study areas have been created around the campuses.”
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