Mette Thunø on the cuts to be made at the Faculty of Arts

Dean Mette Thunø comments on and explains the circumstances involved in the financial situation and the cuts to be made at the Faculty of Arts.


To all the staff at the Faculty of Arts

By now most of you will have been informed that the whole of Aarhus University, including the Faculty of Arts, will have to make budgetary cuts in the years ahead. On Wednesday you had the opportunity to hear what the rector had to say via the internet; and then to hear from your department and centre managers at further staff meetings held during the course of the day. You can also keep updated at the staff portal, where the rector’s speech is also to be found.

I am sure that this situation has come as an unpleasant surprise for many of you, because for a number of years we have enjoyed an increasing level of income and therefore an increasing level of activity. But now the time has come to apply the brakes, because our income will not continue to rise in this fashion. As a result, the Faculty of Arts as well as the administration and the other main academic areas are now forced to make the necessary cuts to ensure that we can establish a better balance between our income and expenditure in the future.

At the Faculty of Arts we have a stable source of income in the form of all our many educational activities. But even though you and the students work hard and ensure that the number of full-time students increases, an annual reduction of 2% in government funding based on the number of students will still result in a slight decline in income. As a result, we are forced to find permanent cuts in the budget in the years ahead. At the same time, we also have to increase our income from education and seek to attract external funding that includes cover for overheads.

A number of figures have already been mentioned, so I think it would be a good idea to add a few comments about them. The model which will be employed to decide where cuts should be made involves distributing these cuts depending on the level of turnover of the units concerned. This model has been chosen based on a principle of solidarity. For the Faculty of Arts, whose turnover constitutes 17 per cent of the turnover of our main academic areas, this means that we are expected to find cuts in 2014 amounting to at least DKK 16.8 million, with an additional DKK 7.5 million in 2015, resulting in a total permanent saving of DKK 25.3 million at least.

However, it is important to underline that there is some uncertainty connected to these figures. For instance, you should remember that these cuts are based on predicted figures and prognoses for our income and expenditure. We will not know the precise financial situation of the Faculty of Arts until January, by when we will have received the final accounts for 2013 and a budget for 2014. So at the moment we cannot state any precise figures for the specific cuts to be made in 2014.

Even though these cuts must be viewed in relation to our total turnover of DKK 1 billion, the size of the figure is still significant because the largest proportion of our expenditure is tied to salaries. So I am afraid we will be forced to part company with a certain number of staff. But I will be joining forces with the department and centre managers to explore all the options in this connection. And of course we will do everything we can to find the best possible solutions. The cuts will have an effect at faculty level as well as at our departments and centres.

Naturally, the criteria on which specific cuts are made will be discussed with the liaison committees at all levels.

I encourage you all to keep an eye on the process at the staff portal, where you will find a plan outlining what is going to happen. This is also where you can read the answers to the questions (only in Danish) which the rector did not manage to answer during the staff meeting on Wednesday 27.11.2013.

We in the faculty management will do our utmost to find financially viable and lasting solutions to prevent demands for cuts from becoming an unfortunate event that occurs on an annual basis. And we will also continue the tasks of adjusting our departments, following up on the workplace assessment, discussing our agreements for working hours etc.

Like the rector, I regret very much that this situation has come about. But there is no way around it: we are simply forced to balance the books.

Mette Thunø

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