News from the Senior Management Team no. 6/2013

Committed employees despite demanding reorganisation

Aarhus University recently published the in-depth psychological workplace assessment (WPA).

More than 6,300 employees completed the questionnaire, resulting in a high response rate of 82.5%. In 2009, this figure was 77%. Moreover, it is a very thorough study which goes considerably beyond statutory requirements. The study gives the management and employees at all levels a useful tool for continuing the work of strengthening the work environment at Aarhus University.

The results of the WPA show that AU employees are dedicated and committed, and that there is a high level of well-being. However, the WPA clearly shows that there are two areas which demand attention now and in the long term. In relation to the previous WPA, a significantly higher proportion of employees are experiencing severe stress symptoms. While in 2009 a quarter of employees felt exhausted, the proportion rose to one-third in 2012. Employees who have been most affected by the reorganisation have the highest incidence of stress symptoms.

The WPA also provides a clear signal to the senior management team from employees that internal communication needs to be improved. Also, it is necessary to strengthen local management and give it better conditions for making decisions and communicating directly with the employees.

The senior management team will ensure that the feedback in the WPA will be acted on, and has agreed with the Main Liaison Committee (HSU) and the Main Occupational Health and Safety Committee (HAMU) on how to proceed with the follow-up process. Together with the management and union representatives, it is particularly important that employees in all departments and units ensure that the problems are discussed in depth and that concrete action plans are laid.

Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen spoke at a seminar for all Aarhus University's managers before the WPA 2012 results were published. Read the speech (in Danish)

English translation: The first report– the one for Aarhus University as a whole – has been translated into English in its entirety, along with the first chapter of each of the remaining five reports, each of which summarises the main results for the main area in question. The translations will be available on the WPA website on 1 March 2013.

Stakladen debate kicks off SU proposal

Last week, the Danish government presented its proposal for a new Education Grant and Loan Scheme (SU) reform. The proposal covers eight specific measures which are designed to bring students through the educational system faster while reducing state expenditure on SU.

The government's proposal includes the following points:

  • The size of the completion bonus which the universities receive will depend on whether the universities manage to cut the average study period by 3.7 months by 2020
  • A 'progress pack' containing changed rules for awarding credits for internships, stays abroad and changing degree programmes, as well as the so-called 'bachelor fence'
  • Tougher progress requirements for students in the form of automatic exam registration and stricter rules for inactivity

Over a number of years, the average time to degree has been reduced, and it is not sensible that the government, in its proposal, is preparing to punish the universities financially for something which depends on the economic climate and the students themselves.

Aarhus University is working to introduce greater flexibility to the educational system, among other things by strengthening student guidance and processes related to credit transfers, which the students have said can cause problems. At the same time, students must be aware of the responsibility they have for ensuring that requirements for awarding credits are fulfilled in connection with study abroad and internships.


Large turn-out for minister debate

The lid was lifted on parts of the reform proposal by Minister of Education Morten Østergaard at a debate in Stakladen organised by Aarhus University and the Student Council. Here, almost 400 students showed up to discuss the Education Grant and Loan Scheme (SU) with the minister. In addition to the Minister of Education and Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen, the debate panel included representatives of the Student Council, Frit Forum and Konservative Studerende.

Larger intake, but fewer students completing their studies within the prescribed study period

In the wake of the government's SU proposal, Universities Denmark has published key figures for the study area from 2012.

The so-called Statistical Service confirms that in 2012 more new students were admitted than ever before. Partly following the merger with theEngineering College of Aarhus, Aarhus University admitted more Bachelor’s degree students than any other university. In all, 7,256 students started at AU in 2012, an increase of 41% since 2007. Altogether, the Danish  universities’admissions to Bachelor’s degree programmes  increased by 36% in the same period. 

The figures also show that the proportion of AU students who complete a Master's degree within the prescribed study period is smaller within all academic areas than it was in 2011. However, it should be noted that the way in which Universities Denmark categorises the subjects does not correspond exactly to Aarhus University's main academic areas.

For the humanities, the proportion has fallen from 11% to 9%, for the social sciences from 30% to 25%, for the health sciences from 62% to 36%, and for the natural sciences/technical subjects it has fallen from 28% to 27%.

The fall within the health sciences is primarily due to a change in which study programmes are included within this category.

The difference in the completion rate from 2011 to 2012 is less marked among students who complete their Master's degrees within the prescribed time plus a year.

The other topical statistics from Universities Denmark also include study activity levels and internationalisation. The remaining key figures forsuch topics as finances, staff and buildings will be updated in June.


  • 5 March: University Board meeting at 15.00
  • 18-19 March: Management seminar

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