News from the Senior Management Team no. 25/2019

Finance Bill shows promise – but important negotiations are waiting ahead 

"We will be following the negotiations on the new Finance Bill very closely," says Rector Brian Bech Nielsen after the announcement by the government of its legislative proposal for the next Finance Act, which does not include a prioritising of an increase in taximeter funding for social science and humanities degree programmes. As announced earlier by the government, however, the Bill does include a very clear stance on the reallocation contribution.

"Dropping the reallocation contribution is an important and welcome step by the government. The reallocation contribution has severely eroded the finances of degree programmes and their leeway for development. So we encourage the government to go the full distance and retain the taximeter increase. In fact, we’d rather that it was made permanent," says Brian Bech Nielsen, adding:

"It's important that - as a society - we have strong humanities and social science degree programmes, and in this context the taximeter increase is very important."

For Aarhus University, in 2020 alone, cancellation of the taximeter increase will result in a budget shortfall of DKK 75 million for the relevant programmes.

"However, in view of recent political statements about an extension of the taximeter increase, I remain optimistic about upcoming negotiations on the Finance Act. I’ve noted that the government has set aside the necessary resources for genuine negotiations," says Brian Bech Nielsen.

Dean Johnny Laursen and Dean Thomas Pallesen also have positive expectations for the upcoming negotiations. Read more (Omnibus)

In addition, the senior management team is very pleased that the research reserve funds are being increased, so that research can contribute even more to ensuring the green transition and stronger sustainability efforts. 

AU supports new recommendations: Getting more international graduates into jobs

More international graduates from Danish universities should be employed in Denmark once they have completed their studies. This is the goal of seven general recommendations and 29 sub recommendations issued by a partnership for the retention of international students.

Under the auspices of Universities Denmark, Aarhus University is part of a partnership including the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC) and the National Union of Students in Denmark.

Aarhus University fully supports the recommendations, which are largely aimed at the members themselves. Pro-Rector Berit Eika highlights the benefits of a joint effort.

"With a joint effort across businesses, universities, students and trade unions what we do will have more clout. At Aarhus University, this is an important focus area now, and this will continue so that we can attract highly qualified international students with the competences in demand on the labour market. The key to retaining graduates in Denmark is access to jobs, and this is where the university can help bridge the gap," she says.

For example, since 2017, the Department of Computer Science together with Destination Aarhus have had good experience in inviting potential international students to Aarhus in the recruitment period, giving them an opportunity to meet Danish companies. The preliminary results are positive, and the majority of the people who said yes to a place at the university today have student jobs.

AU's Dual Career programme for entrepreneurs is also capitalising on the potential among international students, and today, about 10 per cent of the programme comprises international students.

"There are many good initiatives underway at Aarhus University - we need to cultivate and develop these, as well as create new ones. However, success depends on political backing, and we would like to see the removal of the government’s cap on degree programmes taught in English," says Berit Eika, referring also to the partnership's recommendations that politicians remove other barriers such as user fees for Danish courses and the cap on Education Grant and Loan Scheme in Denmark (SU) expenditure for migrant workers.

The recommendations of the partnership are based on calculations showing that international students are already making a positive contribution to the Danish economy.

Academic Councils support more sustainability at AU

Last week, about 60 members from Aarhus University's four academic councils came together at their annual seminar at Sandbjerg.

This year, the academic councils focussed on three main topics: AU Strategy 2025, freedom of research and research integrity, and finally sustainability.

Members of the academic councils spent much the time discussing sustainability at the university, both in terms of sustainability in our organisation as well as within the core tasks of education and research. The councils discussed both concrete ideas and possible ways to organise ongoing initiatives across the university. The discussions showed unequivocal support from the academic councils to place climate and sustainability high on the agenda.

Rector Brian Bech Nielsen also participated in the seminar, at which he presented the draft for AU's strategy up to 2025, which is currently in consultation at the university. In addition, he reported on the follow-up to the research freedom survey from December 2018, and the university's work on developing research practice guidelines, which now also cover the issue of pressure on freedom of research.

The academic councils at AU have played a key role in the follow-up to the research freedom survey. Anyone who wants to contribute to the work of the academic councils will soon have opportunity to run for election to the councils. This year, the members of the academic councils are up for election in connection with the university elections on 11 and 14 November. Read more about the academic councils and stay up-to-date on important dates for the election.