News from the senior management team no. 39/2015

Rector: The universities need long-term political agreements

In an article published on the news website Altinget on 10 December, Rector Brian Bech Nielsen suggests that current political micromanagement is misguided in view of the actual situation in the research and educational sector, and that the universities need long-term agreements with broad political support. He calls for a cooperation or governance model which enables the government to set goals for the universities in the form of clear overall performance management. However, these goals must always tailored to the individual universities.

Brian Bech Nielsen is part of a discussion panel appointed by Altinget to focus on management and governance in the university sector. The aim is to create a situation in which the universities can go about their daily business without constant interference, while ensuring that they remain driven by academic ambition, insight and knowledge. 

Strengthening teaching development at AU

In future, the development of forms of instruction and course content must be included in the evaluations conducted by the individual degree programmes every five years, just as teaching will also be a key element of the SDD interviews. This will ensure focus on both individual and collective competency development of teaching staff at Aarhus University.

This was decided by the senior management team at a recent meeting about the possibility of strengthening educational competency development, which will also be a focus point in connection with the institutional accreditation process.

At the same time, the senior management team submitted a number of basic principles for competency development for consultation by the faculty management teams. The principles explicate the roles and responsibilities of the individual management levels in connection with educational competency development.

After the meeting, the senior management team also asked AU’s teaching development centres to explore the possibility of organising intra-faculty courses where it makes sense to do so. Aarhus University’s teaching development centres already work  together closely on the organisation of courses for assistant professors, and in future this cooperation will also cover their offerings for other academic staff groups.

Finally, the Committee on Education has been given the go-ahead to allocate funds so that the educational centres can develop a joint introduction model to be offered to all new teaching staff at the university.

Aarhus University Hospital best in Denmark

For the eighth year running, Aarhus University Hospital can pride itself on being named the best hospital in Denmark. The hospital won in the “university hospitals” category, which comprises the biggest hospitals in Denmark. In the awards, which are organised by the weekly newspaper Dagens Medicin, Viborg and Silkeborg won the categories Denmark’s best medium-sized hospital 2015 and Denmark’s best small hospital 2015, respectively. AU is responsible for research and education at AUH and at the other hospitals in the Central Denmark Region.

Focus on research-based public sector consultancy at conference

The strong political tradition of research-based public sector consultancy  is being threatened by decreasing funding and the increasing use of competitive funding, write Dean Niels Christian Nielsen and Vice-dean Kurt Nielsen from Science and Technology in last Thursday’s analysis in the newspaper Politiken.  The analysis was published on the occasion of a conference on research-based public sector consultancy which was held on the initiative of the Minister for Higher Education and Science on the same day. The agenda included cross-sector cooperation and career paths for researchers. The participants counted representatives from ministries and government agencies as well as from the universities and business and industry. Together with spokespersons from, for example, the Danish AgriFish Agency, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Dean Niels Christian Nielsen participated in a panel debate on business collaboration.

New degree programme resizing requirements take Universities Denmark by surprise

Earlier in the month, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science asked the Danish universities to cut a further 58 student places as part of the degree programme resizing agreement. The requirement has taken Universities Denmark by surprise, as annual recalculation of resizing requirements was not part of the final model which was agreed with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in 2014. For Aarhus University, the extra resizing requirement means that the Master’s degree programme in international studies at Arts will lose three student places by 2019. At the same time, the resizing means that a ceiling will be established on admissions to the English-language programme, which reduces the university’s room for manoeuvre in relation to admissions of international students, including non-EU citizens who pay tuition fees. As part of the resizing agreement, Aarhus University has cut 334 Bachelor’s degree places and 36 Master’s degree places on the degree programmes in question in 2016 alone.

New face on faculty management team at Aarhus BSS

Director of Studies Per Andersen from the Department of Law will be new vice-dean for education at Aarhus BSS as of 1 February.

He is taking over from Peder Østergaard, who does not wish to continue as vice-dean. The faculty will still be able to draw on Peder Østergaard. He will continue in a part-time capacity, and will primarily focus on institutional accreditation and international accreditation.

Per Baltzer Overgaard has been re-appointed vice-dean for research.

Danish Council for Independent Research withdraws calls

As a result of cuts in the Danish Finance Act of DKK 280 million in 2016, the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) has felt compelled to withdraw various calls for grant applications. These include postdoc scholarships for early career researchers and mobility scholarships, which are being withdrawn before the application deadlines. The call concerning Sapere Aude, Step 3 grants for top researchers is also being withdrawn, in fact after the deadline for applying. DFF apologises for the fact that the researchers have applied in vain.

Aarhus University is extremely concerned about these research funding cuts by the Danish Council for Independent Research as a result of the 2016 Finance Act. If the cuts continue in the coming years, this will have a negative impact on the growth layer in Danish research, which is already struggling to win a share of ever-shrinking research funding.

Internal seminar on responsible conduct of research

The faculties’ new advisers on responsible conduct of research met on Monday 14 December for an internal AU seminar with members and alternates from the university’s Research Practices Committee to discuss the new advisory function and the committee’s work, including the implementation of AU’s new policy and regulations for the area as well as the new Danish code of conduct. 

In addition to presentations by internal participants, presentations were given by Nils Axelsen from Statens Serum Institut (SSI) and Mathias Willumsen from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation. 

Earlier in 2015, Aarhus University introduced a new set of university-wide guidelines on responsible conduct of research.

Danish researchers secure good chunk of EU funding

A new survey shows that Denmark’s share of funding from the Horizon 2020 programme has risen since March 2015 and now totals just under EUR 300 million.

While the Danish share is particularly high within the ‘Better Society’ and ‘Excellent Science’ programmes, it has dropped within the ‘Competitive Industries’ programme.

Launched in January 2014, the Horizon 2020 programme will award approx. EUR 75 billion in research and innovation funding towards 2020.

Increased focus on emergency response procedures at AU in 2016

The senior management team has followed up on Aarhus University’s emergency response procedures, including the handling of accidents and critical situations. In 2015, five evacuation drills were held at AU. In 2016, the senior management team will increase its focus on the university’s emergency response procedures, and more evacuation drills will be held in future. The responsible steering committee will take this further.

It is important that evacuation drills are held regularly so that students and employees are familiar with the procedures. The senior management team finds it necessary to increase focus on the university’s emergency response procedures.  


  • 15 December: Universities Denmark meeting
  • 5 January: Main Liaison Committee (HSU)/Main Occupational Health and Safety Committee (HAMU) meeting
  • 6 January: Supervisory meeting
  • 14-15 January: Research and Innovation meeting 2016
  • 24 February: Board meeting

Kind regards, 

The Senior Management Team


The Senior Management Team publishes a newsletter every week. This newsletter includes a brief description of current activities and discussions. You can sign up for the Danish version of the newsletter at, after which you will receive an e-mail whenever the newsletter is issued. If you would like to subscribe to the English version of News from the Senior Management Team, please go to The English version of News from the Senior Management Team is available at You can read previous editions of News from the Senior Management Team at