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University of Copenhagen
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Mystery deepens over Danish flagpole count

University, and other public institutions. forced to report flagpole numbers. Ministry will not reveal reason for request

All Danish government institutions have to report how many flagpoles they use on official Danish flag days by 11 January, reports Danish broadcaster DR and news site, and the British news website BBC. .

No clear reason has been given for the count, and some media have requested the ministerial decision disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. The flag count comes at a time when universities have been ordered to cut costs on bureaucracy.

Danish-language news site has also requested more information from the Ministry of Finance:

”It’s a survey of the state’s practice of flying the flag,” says head of communication Heidi Birgitte Nielsen.

It’s not because you don’t know why the flagpoles have to be counted, it’s because you don’t want to say why?

”Yes, that’s right,’ she responds.’

New flag law? New flag days’?

Campus Service at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) has confirmed that they have, indeed, counted the flagpoles at UCPH and have informed the Ministry of Education of the result, apparently the official channel.

Theories abound, but the nationwide flag-counting exercise may be the preliminary to new legislation, reckons lecturer in history at UCPH Jes Fabricius Møller.

”My guess is that they are preparing a new flag law. The current one is from 1748,” he says.

Government micro-management

He speculates that it might have to do with the official flag days. There are 17 official flag days in 2016, and when the Danish princes and princesses come of age, under the current legislation their birthdays will be made official flag days.

Excel-spreadsheet sent to all government institutions in January from the Ministry of Finance

With government cuts to tertiary education, the University of Copenhagen has proposed saving money by cutting down on government-imposed bureaucracy. ”If we are to maintain quality of research and education it’s crucial that the state loosens its bureaucratic micromanagement of universities,” rector Ralf Hemmingsen wrote in a press release in September 2015.

There are nine flagpoles at the University of Copenhagen.

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