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University of Copenhagen
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UCPH to stop all new hiring: PhD cuts, closure threats

First consequences after University of Copenhagen management introduces hiring freeze and threatens layoffs. No new 'open' PhDs at the Faculty of Humanities to be advertised

The University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) animal hospitals are threatened with closing. And the Faculty of Humanities has pulled its planned advertising for fiscally allocated PhDs, effectively cutting new PhD numbers by half.

These are just two of the consequences after a University of Copenhagen-announced hiring freeze effective 5 October. The hiring freeze means that there will be no replacements for individuals that leave UCPH through retirement, maternity leave or regular turnover. The UCPH decision follows the Danish government’s proposed budget cut to education and research. A proposal that UCPH reckons will cost it DKK 300 million in 2016.

“The government’s budget proposal will have considerable consequences. Rector’s office is imposing an immediate hiring freeze and is also working on a savings plan. This will in all probability result in a round of layoffs in spring 2016,” the University of Copenhagen wrote in its first release on the issue.

No more ‘open’ round PhDs

The Faculty of Humanities is in particular difficulties with cuts to all expenses already announced. Now, the Faculty of Humanities has frozen all of the so-called ‘open’ PhD appointments financed through Faculty of Humanities’ fiscal allocations. This will effect roughly half of the total PhDs taken on. Around 20 PhDs were given grants through this process last year and the deadline for applications would normally have been 1 December.

Head of Humanities’ PhD School: “The University of Copenhagen is in a crisis, but the Faculty of Humanities is in a particular crisis”

“No PhD scholarships belonging in this category [‘frie stipendier’, ed.] will be advertized until the hiring freeze has been lifted and the Faculty is able realistically to assess its financial situation and attendant possibilities or constraints,” the Humanities’ PhD school writes in the release.

Assistant professor Sune Auken, head of the PhD school at the Faculty of Humanities explains to the University Post that “at the present time the University of Copenhagen is in a crisis, but the Faculty of Humanities is in a particular crisis”. He adds however that he “does not know what the fate will be of allocations to this category of PhDs in 2016.”

Animal hospitals may go

The UCPH veterinary schools’ hospitals’ (one facility for large farm animals, and one for smaller animals like dogs) future is also uncertain, according to the Danish-language university news site that has talked to the Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Ulla Wewer.

UCPH Health Dean: “We cannot continue starving other programmes and departments to pay for the hospital operation”

“The state pays to educate vets, but this is not enough to run two animal hospitals, that are necessary to give students practical training. With the budget proposal as it is now I am concerned as to whether we can afford running the hospitals on the level that we need,” she says.

“For years we have had to run the animal hospitals with a considerable supplement from research funds. We have just carried out cuts in the veterinary departments to make ends meet. We cannot continue starving other programmes and departments to pay for the hospital operation,” Ulla Wewer says.

Departments uncertain

Individual departments at the University of Copenhagen have been communicating to staff and students about the consequences of the hiring freeze. The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences’ release is typical of many:

“We now await the final state budget and the university boards’ decisions. Until then we do not know which implications this could have at PLEN, for our budget for 2016 and the years to come. We will keep you informed as best we can,” department head Svend Christensen writes.

In the meantime, all recruitment at the University of Copenhagen is at a standstill.

“Only in very special circumstances may a vacancy be posted and it will require approval by the dean in question. At faculty level, a job posting will require Rector’s approval. Vacancies that have been posted can be filled, while vacancies that are currently being processed by HR will be cancelled,” the University of Copenhagen writes in its 1 October hiring freeze release.

Staff rep ‘astonished’

The Board of the University of Copenhagen will make a decision on the 2016 budget at its December meeting.

UCPH Rector: “.. we intend to push for an answer from the Ministry about a relaxation of government regulation and micro management.”

In the release, Vice-Chairman Ingrid Kryhlmand of the staff-and-management General Collaboration Committee says this is a very grave situation for the University.

“I’m astonished at the extent of the savings. The main thing now is that we investigate which tasks the University will have to do away with. We don’t want a situation where the staff must just work faster while all teaching, research and administration continue regardless. There are activities we need to discontinue, and the University will not be able to deliver the same service as before,” she says.

Rector: Looking for answers

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen adds that “we will take the time to involve all stakeholders just as we welcome all ideas. We are going to check for any double functions at the University or tasks where we could perhaps go from three to two administrative levels. And we intend to push for an answer from the Ministry about a relaxation of government regulation and micro management.”

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