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University of Copenhagen
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Why us? Deans attempt to explain in newsletters

Toxic issue of staff cuts in the most-affected Science and Life faculties is taken on by the deans

It’s a hard sell.

While the University of Copenhagen tightens its belt, the Faculties of Life Sciences and the Faculty of Science have been squeezed so hard they are gasping for breath. Now, in a new development, the Deans of these – the two most-affected – faculties have attempted to explain the cuts to angry staff in faculty newsletters.

While Life is in the middle of a 50-job cull, Science – still stumbling after a tumultuous downturn in 2009 – has been sideswiped by a new, deep, job cutback.

Freezing savings

Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences Per Holten-Andersen says in his letter to staff (scroll down for English) that
LIFE has been hit relatively hard by the cutbacks for several reasons.

»It has not been possible to shift quite as many employees as expected to external financing among other things because at some departments many members of staff are already paid through external financing,« he says.

Also a university decision in December to freeze all savings, had larger consequences for Life than other faculties, he adds.

»As LIFE has large savings, this decision forced a number of departments to cancel planned activities for which employees had already been appointed and which were to be financed by drawing on departmental savings«.

No more cuts in 2011

Cuts will lead to merged courses, more PhD student hours spent class teaching, cancelled elective courses and a postponement of new equipment.

While »teaching at LIFE will continue to be of high quality and to be research-based… the cutbacks have meant that, to a greater extent, we have had to focus our research to our areas of strength,« he says, adding that »we will also revamp a number of administrative routines in order to save time by reducing the number of meetings in committees and other initiatives«.

»With the knowledge we have today about budget 2011, we do not expect any drastic reductions in next year’s budget.«

»It is particularly sad to have to say good-bye to good colleagues and employees and to competencies that have served the Faculty well for many years,« he writes.

Necessary to balance budget

Faculty of Science dean Nils O. Andersen, blames the job cutbacks on the increased share of funding being earmarked for specific purposes, with reductions in the public funding that are left to the university’s own discretion.

»The fact of the matter is that the taximeter system and basic funding have for many years been cut by 2 per cent a year and are expected to be cut even further in future. We are receiving more funds earmarked for PhDs, postdocs, infrastructure etc., and we are having to compete to a much higher degree with other universities for public and private research funding. Our educational grants are increasingly dependent on our ability to recruit, reduce student drop-out rates and improve completion times,« he says,

Especially the Department of Biology and the Department of Geography and Geology managements and employees face having to say goodbye to colleagues who have been hit by the cuts, he says, adding however, that they »are necessary to balance our budgets in the coming years.«