News from the senior management team no. 33/2015

Research reserve funds have been allocated, but developments are still worrying

As a result of the broad political agreement on the allocation of the research reserve funds, DKK 124 million of strategic research funding will be allocated to the Danish Council for Independent Research. There is, however, every indication that the government will maintain its decision to cut the council's budget by DKK 400 million, which means that the council will be able to grant DKK 924 million in 2016.

The Danish National Innovation Foundation will also be hit hard by the Danish government’s Finance Bill. Whereas the foundation awarded grants of DKK 1.6 billion last year, the amount for 2016 will be DKK 924 million. With an additional DKK 298 million of research reserve funding, the Danish National Innovation Foundation will be able to distribute a total of DKK 1,222 million in 2016.

Aarhus University is extremely concerned about these research funding cuts. Although the allocation of the research reserve funds will offset some of the reduction, cuts of this magnitude will have major consequences for the current research boom. It may be too late to make amendments to this Finance Act, but if the cuts are retained in the coming years, it will be a serious setback, in particular for young researchers, who are already struggling to get their share of increasingly limited research funds.

High Danish standards for research on compulsory schooling

The research funded by the PhD Council for Educational Research maintains a high international level.   

This is the overall conclusion of an international evaluation made by a council established in 2011 to strengthen practically oriented research into compulsory schooling. The council members are appointed by the Minister for Higher Education and Science, and the council is based at Aarhus University.   

The evaluation shows, among other things, that the PhD Council is well-run and makes sound academic choices in its selection of projects. The evaluation also points out that there may be a general need for more didactic research in all primary and lower secondary school subjects, as well as more statistically based research.  

The PhD Council for Educational Research has so far funded 45 PhD scholarships, of which the first two were completed earlier this year. The research, which is carried out in collaboration between a university and a university college, may focus on didactics, pedagogics, inclusion of all children, initiatives for children with special needs and the transition from daycare to basic education and from basic education to youth education. 

New centre to promote Danish technological healthcare and welfare solutions

The Centre for Healthcare Cooperation officially opened its doors on 27 October. The purpose of the centre is to consolidate and improve Denmark's leading position within innovative technological healthcare and welfare solutions. Professor Carsten Obel is director of the centre, which will prioritise cooperation across the boundaries of traditional sectors and disciplines to find answers to the challenges addressed by the centre's research activities.

Good ranking news for yet another two academic environments 

Times Higher Education (THE) ranks Arts at Aarhus University as number 65 in the world within the field of Arts and Humanities, which is one of the subject rankings made by THE. The current ranking is 26 places up on last year's ranking at number 91. 

Food and Agricultural Sciences at Aarhus University also achieved a very good ranking earlier this month. This field has an overall ranking as number nine on the most recent ranking list from U.S. News Best Global Universities, which bases its rankings on the Thomson Reuters bibliometric analyses.

AU to host international conference on the Arctic

The 2015 MatchPoints Seminar will bring together Danish and international researchers, ministers, leading politicians and diplomats to discuss the current challenges in the Arctic.

The Earth's northernmost region is now the object of more global interest than ever before. New power relations are being established, and new patterns of collaboration must be established and maintained. As the climate changes and the Polar ice melts, new trade routes, new oil and gas fields, fishing waters and tourist destinations are opening, and this poses a risk – to the environment, to the local population and to other people in the Arctic. These are some of the questions to be discussed at the MatchPoints Seminar.

Participants at the seminar include Professor John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago, Rob Huebert from the University of Calgary, three former Danish Ministers for Foreign Affairs, the ambassadors to Norway and Canada as well as representatives from both the US and Russian governments. Professor Ellen Margrethe Basse, Professor Søren Rysgaard and Senior Researcher Anders Mosbech, among others, from Aarhus University will participate in the discussion of the challenges from an environmental perspective. Minister for Foreign Affairs Kristian Jensen will attend the opening of the conference in the Main Hall.

This is the eighth MatchPoints conference organised by Aarhus University, this year in cooperation with the City of Aarhus and a number of other Danish and Nordic universities. 

Journalist and Arctic expert Martin Breum will act as moderator. You can hear him introduce the conference (in Danish only), or read more about speakers and the conference

Health contributes to political debate

In a feature article in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten on 30 October, Dean Allan Flyvbjerg draws attention to the risk of unreliable registrations of causes of death in Denmark. Together with Christian Lindholst, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Aarhus University, he explains that a historically low number of autopsies is being performed, which means that we no longer have an adequate understanding of the causes of death. 

Earlier this month, Dean Allan Flyvbjerg wrote an article about the need for improved psychiatric care, stressing, among other things, the need for more coherent treatment programmes, modelled on the progress that has been made in the treatment of physical illnesses.

This week, Vice-Dean Lise Wogensen from Health also contributed to the research policy debate on the education of Danish PhDs. She emphasises that PhDs employed in the public sector help to ensure that research is conducted into prevention, and that their work is an extremely important supplement to private-sector research, which, to a greater extent, focuses on the development of new medicines.

Anne Lindholm Behnk is new deputy director of AU HR

A unanimous appointment committee headed by Brian Bech Nielsen, AU rector and acting university director, has appointed Anne Lindholm Behnk new deputy director of AU HR. There were 29 applicants for the position. Anne Lindholm Behnk has served as manager of the Organisational Development and Working Environment unit in AU HR, and since 1 August as acting deputy director of AU HR.

Fire guard monitors Navitas roof

An independent investigation has discovered that the roofing felt on Navitas is flammable. Until the problem has been solved, a fire guard will monitor the roof around the clock.

In the coming days, the owners' association behind Navitas will be talking with various experts on how to best handle the fire risk. The authorities have previously inspected the building without finding any safety issues.  


  • 4 November: University Board meeting
  • 6 November: Aarhus Symposium
  • 12-13 November: MatchPoints Seminar 2015


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