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University of Copenhagen wants to buy its own buildings

UCPH is looking to buy nearly DKK 9 billion worth of properties from the Danish state. So far, however, the government has said they are not for sale

Rather than renting its classrooms, labs and administration buildings from the Danish state, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is seeking to purchase buildings from the government in what it says is a cost-effectivity measure.

UCPH reportedly pays more than DKK 926 million a year in rent for the use of 822,807 square meters across 391 buildings spread across Copenhagen.

The University of Copenhagen claims these rents are too high, and that having the buildings owned by the state is difficult to work with. Danish governments, on the other hand, have argued that it is the state, and not the University of Copenhagen that can most effectively manage the buildings. Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) own their own properties.

“Inflexible, bureaucratic and expensive”

The University tried to buy the buildings from the state two years ago, offering approximately DKK 8 to 9 billion.

The government response has been delayed, slowed by the processing of requests through various committees. Minister of Research and Education Sofie Carsten Nielsen (R), informed the university recently that yet another committee will research the sale more closely.

The work is expected to be done in September 2015, according to the minister, the cause of impatience by the University’s Board of Directors.

“The system we have now is inflexible, bureaucratic and expensive. It takes us much longer to build something new for our researchers, than it would have if we ourselves had the responsibility for the large processes we have to go through” said UCPH chairman Nils Strandberg Pedersen, to the Danish newspaper Politiken.

University: State control is costly

According to the University of Copenhagen the government’s rent is 20 per cent too high for market prices and that the government does not handle its construction and upkeep well. This to be especially the case in specialised buildings like laboratories, dental clinics and animal hospitals.

“Even on the South Campus, KUA, we have had to go through some difficult processes that have led to delays. We believe this puts the University of Copenhagen in a difficult position in relation to international competition,” said Pedersen.

“If the construction process is constantly extended, we will miss the opportunity to attract new researchers from throughout the world, who are offered positions at other universities instead,” he says.

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