University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


World class status threatened, say critics

A new Danish plan forces universities to cut 10 percent starting 2013. But this is only a short-term solution, says university association. Universities' world class status may be threatened

A Danish government economic reconstruction plan which squeezes university budgets is now heavily criticised by university interest groups.

Along with a down-adjustment for research, which counts 1 percent of GDP, savings are set to be DKK 328 million in 2012 and DKK 998 million kroner in 2013.

Furthermore, one billion kroner disappears in 2013, as a special grant from the globalisation agreement in 2006 for renewing laboratories expires.

The Ministry of Science claims that the plan was never to lengthen the grant in 2013. But Jens Oddershede, chairman of the association Danish Universities, understands things differently:

»It has always been our interpretation that the billions given to us for the renewal of laboratories, would later return to us as a part of the research budget«.

Academic side effects

Oddershede says the budget cut will bring consequences.

»It is hard for me to imagine how you can carry out these budget cuts in 2013 without affecting the employees at the Universities«.

Moreover, a circular from the Rector of the University of Copenhagen just announced that 400-700 positions are expected to disappear in the coming years as a result of the budget cutbacks.

Oddershede argues that with the tight budget, it will be difficult to build up an international competitive research and educational environment.

»It seems unlikely that these cuts harmonize with the goals of world-class universities«, Oddershede says.

Not smart politics

In the government reconstructing plan there is a the ambition of investing a further five billion kroner in education, but the proposal is not further specified.

»The proposal to invest in educating more people sound good, but the universities do not know if this money will give the already low educational taximeter a boost«, the Universities chairman says.

However, Oddershede hopes that politicians get smart again by 2013, and that they realise it is short-term thinking to cut research and educational budgets:

»I think we have a good case. It is a question of making a strong bid for the future, and less of a bid on us, the old ones: We need to focus on our children and the future generations«.