News from the senior management team no. 14/2019

Debate at Folkemødet on Bornholm: How much do flexible degree programmes cost?

More flexibility in the education sector is a good thing. But flexibility also has a price, and we have to discuss this openly.

This was what Pro-rector Berit Eika said as a prelude to a debate on the research vessel Aurora at Folkemødet - The People's Democratic Festival last week. During the debate, the pro-rector expressed her concerns about whether extending the legal right of admission could end up lowering the overall level of education of Danes. This could become a reality if Bachelor's students don’t return to  university to take a Master's degree after working in the labour market for a number of years.

Lars Qvistgaard, President of the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC), Johan Hedegaard, President of the National Union of Students in Denmark, and Professor Torben M. Andersen also took part in the debate.

More from Folkemødet - Denmark's Political Festival: Research news and debates on the deck of Aurora

In addition to the debate on flexible degree programmes, Aarhus University again made its mark on the scientific agenda at Folkemødet on Bornholm. 

Aarhus University invited people aboard the research ship Aurora from the quay in Allinge to take part in an intensive three-day programme. More than 20 events with news about the latest research and debates were held on Aurora during the Folkemødet, and Sunday rounded off with a free guided tour of the research vessel. This year, among other things, AU researchers talked about the importance of play in society, public-sector management, and food’s journey from spoon to mouth to stomach. There were also various climate debates.

Some of the debates were organised in collaboration with the Technology Pact, Universities Denmark, the Danish Association of Upper Secondary Schools, the Danish University Extension, the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs and many more. 

Aurora is in the Baltic Sea throughout June in connection with a research expedition.

Strategy, the ST split and sustainability on the agenda at Board seminar 

The Aarhus University Board held its annual seminar on 6-7 June, and the draft AU strategy 2025 was a focal point in the discussions. There was basically considerable support for the draft presented by the senior management team following the discussions at the management seminar in May. The Board's discussions focused in particular on three areas: Interdisciplinarity at AU, the future of further and continuing education at AU and how AU transfers knowledge to society. 

Board approve division of ST

At a board meeting after the seminar, there was full support for the proposal to split ST. The Board was aware that the consultation showed that the university generally supports and understands the proposed split. The Board sees a clear strength in that the faculty structure will now consist of five equal faculties.

Board priority on sustainability 

Sustainability work at AU was also on the Board's agenda. Back in 2018, the Board decided that AU was to have a sustainability strategy. In this connection, the senior management team set up a working group, consisting of staff and students, to help draw up the strategy. The working group received ideas from staff and students at the Sustainability Seminar on 21 March, and there was input from a new sustainability network. So far they have come up with the following focus areas:

  • Smart Campus: find smart solutions for more sustainable operation of the university
  • Buildings: reduce energy and resource consumption in buildings
  • Waste: recycle more of the university's waste
  • A greener campus: create a greener campus to benefit both the environment and users
  • Transport: reduce carbon emissions and pollution from transport
  • Procurement and tendering: promote a holistic approach to procurement and tendering, with the environmental impact as an important parameter.

The Board expressed satisfaction with the draft strategy and the good initiatives. They also pointed out that AU should establish very specific and achievable targets. The Board decided to prepare a baseline with the current environmental impact as part of the strategy.

The new academic year has already begun for AU student advisers

There’s still almost three months to go before the new students at Aarhus University arrive on campus. But work of giving them a good welcome has long since begun for AU's approx. 1,200 student advisers. During the spring, they have been able to participate in a new course – a student-adviser summit – for ideas and information about the important role of the student adviser when studies start.

The Danish Evaluation Institute is behind an analysis, which shows that a good commencement to studies reduces the risk of drop-out. Moreover, a study from the National Union of Students in Denmark shows that 16% of cases of uninvited sexual advances take place In connection with the commencement of studies. Therefore, the Education Committee has decided to focus on a good commencement of studies by supporting student advisers’ preparations.

125 years of uninterrupted fertilisation trials at Askov Research Station

AU celebrated 125 years of uninterrupted fertilisation trials at Askov Research Station this week. This is a unique research platform that attracts Danish and foreign experts from a wide range of research areas.

New head of National Centre for School Research

On 1 June 2019, the deputy head of department at the Danish School of Education, Christian Christrup Kjeldsen became the new head of the National Centre for School Research. He takes over from Professor Lars Qvortrup, who wants to move on to other work.

DKK 203 million for more productive crops

Together with an international team of researchers, plant researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics have been allocated DKK 203 million by the Novo Nordisk Foundation for a research project aiming at generating basic knowledge about the interactions of plants with the complex communities of micro-organisms living in and around them.

The ambition is to increase food production and ensure sufficient food for a growing global population by developing more intelligent and sustainable agriculture based on biological methods.

DKK 10 million for research into Parkinson's disease

Professor Daniel Otzen from iNANO at Aarhus University has received DKK 10 million from the Lundbeck Foundation for a new research centre, CytoPad, to help develop new and better methods to diagnose and prevent Parkinson's disease, among other things using antibodies from llamas.


  • 5 July: Deadline for Quota 1 applications
  • 26 July: Notification of places offered to applicants 

The senior management team publishes a weekly newsletter This includes details of decisions and initiatives from the Senior Management Team, plus current activities and discussions.