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Top of Rector´s agenda: Internationals

Ralf Hemmingsen will continue to make the University of Copenhagen more attractive to international students and scientists, he says

Re-appointed for a new term as Rector Monday, Ralf Hemmingsen says he will continue to push for an internationalisation agenda at the University of Copenhagen.

In a first interview, conducted in co-operation with Danish-language site, he explained to the University Post that the University of Copenhagen had still not fully achieved the goals it had set itself in attracting non-Danish scientists and students to a truly internationalised university.

“We still have some way to go before we achieve our goals in recruitment, a tenure track system, and within the area of ensuring a parallel language at the university” he says.

More non-Danes in councils

There are now just as many non-Danish as there are Danish postdocs at the University of Copenhagen. And the number of international PhDs has tripled over the past five years, he writes in a letter to all students and staff at the University of Copenhagen.

“We can not avoid some meetings being held in Danish” he says to and University Post. But with more international scientists and researchers eligible for the universities’ democratically-elected bodies and councils, some meetings are bound also to be held in English, he adds.

In some international Danish companies, like Vestas and Novo Nordisk, English is the official corporate language, expected to be spoken by staff. The University of Copenhagen will not go this far, says Ralf Hemmingsen.

Invite newcomers home

“The University of Copenhagen’s corporate language is not to be English. The University should be an international one, but it should also be firmly anchored in Denmark”, he says.

This said, a culture change, especially among Danes at the University of Copenhagen, will make non-Danes feel more welcome. And he will try to foster it.

“I am not talking about inviting an international scientist with you for a two-week vacation. But about inviting them home for a drink on a Saturday night. This brings people together, and it makes a difference to newcomers,” he says.

Not ’19th century’

The policy is more internationalisation, not less.

“Historically we have always been a gateway to the outside world for Denmark. This is not new. But if we are to maintain this role, we cannot stay in the 19th century. While the rest of society strives for internationalization, we shall continue to do the same,” he says.

A full interview with Ralf Hemmingsen will soon be published on and

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