News from the senior management no. 3/2019

Rector: AU should have five faculties instead of four

The Faculty of Science and Technology at Aarhus University has grown so large that Rector Brian Bech Nielsen is now proposing to split it into two faculties. The goal in doing so would be to make the dean’s leadership task more manageable, which in turn would improve quality and create better balance at the university as a whole. In this connection, Dean Nielsen Christian Nielsen has decided to step down six months before the end of his current contract.

New funds for UN SDG partnerships

In connection with the Aarhus University conference on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it was announced on 4 February that the Aarhus University Senior Management Team has allocated funding for partnerships between AU researchers, public bodies and private enterprises. Each network must address at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in interdisciplinary partnership.

If you wish to apply for funding for an SDG network, applications for 2019 must be submitted no later than 15 March.

The conference was a huge success. The conference was fully booked and attracted participants from the private sector, public organisations, NGOs and universities. Connie Hedegaard was the keynote speaker, and ST Dean Niels Christian Nielsen rounded off the conference. ST has been the prime mover in getting the conference up and running and has mobilised an interdisciplinary AU cooperation on the Sustainable Development Goals.

... and more sustainability:

Seminar: How do we create a more sustainable AU?

On 21 March, Aarhus University will be holding a seminar on sustainability for all interested staff members and students. 

The seminar will feature inspirational presentations by AU researchers with various perspectives on environmental sustainability, as well as a brief presentation of specific sustainable solutions with which the university is already working. It will also be possible to provide input at the seminar and work together with others to develop ideas for more sustainable solutions. 

This seminar heralds the start of more focused sustainability efforts at AU going forward, and the specific ideas that emerge out of the seminar will subsequently be presented to the AU senior management team. Moreover, the discussions that take place at the seminar will also serve as inspiration for the sustainability strategy that AU is currently developing. 

The sustainability seminar will take place between 2pm and 5pm on 21 March.

Good, important debate on freedom of research 

On Monday, 28 January, Aarhus University highlighted the issue of freedom of research with a public panel debate involving researchers, university leaders and representatives of Danish foundations. This debate was a follow-up on the work on freedom of research done by the academic councils and the senior management team, who last year launched an investigation into freedom of research at Aarhus University

The survey and the subsequent debate have resulted in a number of proposals being made by the senior management team, one example of which is the establishment of a research ambassador scheme at each faculty. This research ambassador should act as an independent channel that researchers can approach anonymously for support and advice if they experience internal or external pressure in respect of freedom of research.

The proposals by the senior management team are being considered by the academic councils. 

A really good and important debate was held on Monday, 28 January. It is available to view now at the Aarhus University YouTube channel (in Danish). View the debate on freedom of research and pressure in academia here.

  • View part two (panel debate and questions from the floor)
  • View part one (welcome, review of the report and presentations from panellists)

Teaching staff: Apply for Educational IT project funding

One key aspect of the EDU IT initiative at Aarhus University involves earmarking funding for EDU IT projects between 2018 and 2024 for which AU teaching staff may apply. The main purpose of the funding is to give teaching staff more opportunities to experiment with the use of digital learning technologies in their own teaching. 

Staff can apply for funding for 2019 EDU IT projects until 11 February.

New AU centre to conduct research into better blockchain technology

On Friday, 1 February, Anders Samuelsen, Minister of Foreign Affairs, cut the ribbon to open the new Concordium Blockchain Research Centre at Aarhus University. The centre will be conducting research into blockchain technology, with a focus on security, transparency and general usability. The Concordium Foundation is donating funding of DKK 50 million (EUR 6.6 million) over five years, and is based at the Department of Computer Science at AU.

In addition to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Rector Brian Bech Nielsen and Lars Seier Christensen, Chair of the Concordium Foundation, also participated in the opening event in cooperation with representatives from business and industry, researchers and students.

Five AU researchers receive Semper Ardens grant from Carlsberg Foundation

On Friday, 1 February, five researchers from Aarhus University were awarded a Semper Ardens grant by the Carlsberg Foundation. According to the foundation, these grants will help create scientific breakthroughs that will secure Denmark’s top position in international frontier research and contribute to solving the world’s great challenges. A total of 13 grants were awarded.

The following AU researchers received a Semper Ardens grant:

Further information:

DKK 31 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for advanced research technology

With major investments in laboratory equipment funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, three researchers from Aarhus University have been able to boost their research into proteins, nanoparticles and biological molecules.

The three recipients are:

Read more about their grants
Read the press release from the Novo Nordisk Foundation

AU now officially a “space university”

At precisely 1pm on Thursday, 31 January, Aarhus University officially joined the ranks of world universities that have a satellite in space. This was when the Delphini-1 was sent into orbit from the International Space Station, ISS. Everything has gone according to plan so far since the Delphini-1 was launched with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 5 December 2018, travelling to the ISS.

At the end of January, Aarhus University was notified that the astronauts aboard the ISS were ready to launch the Delphini-1. This means that the Delphini-1 is now orbiting the Earth, where students will hopefully be able to communicate with it and retrieve data over the next year. The students are still waiting to be able to connect to the satellite, but another attempt will be made later this week. 

The Delphini-1 is a collaboration between the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Engineering and the Department of Geoscience, as well as North Jutland company GomSpace A/S, which specialises in nanosatellites. The launch itself was sponsored by the European Space Agency, ESA, via the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

University director’s blog: exciting projects in the pipeline in studies administration

Arnold Boon has been visiting the studies administrations for the four faculties and gained new insights into the digitisation and process optimisation efforts. The purpose of his visits was to gain a better understanding of what the studies administrations units are working on, and how they are working to develop their processes. There is plenty of activity in the departments - and plenty of enthusiasm too. The centres are also maintaining their focus on digitisation and optimisation as they embark upon studies administration work and future projects.

Information security a collective responsibility

The information security of Denmark’s five largest universities has received a somewhat critical evaluation from the Danish National Audit Office. Aarhus University welcomes this focus on improving information security, since the university is already taking measures to increase security at the organisational and technical level.

One of the main points of criticism in the Danish National Audit Office’s review of information security at Danish universities is that employees are permitted to bring their own electronic equipment to work. Aarhus University has made a conscious decision to give its researchers the opportunity to connect their own computers. But this requires awareness of the relevant security requirements; information security at the university could be jeopardised otherwise. 

It was decided by the university’s senior management team in 2018 that DKK 32.7 million will be invested in improving information security between 2018 and 2022. Furthermore, starting in 2023, DKK 7.2 million annually will be invested in continuous upgrades to information security. 


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.