University of Copenhagen to cut more than 500 jobs

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen warns job losses will see some services ‘cut to the bone’ as 7 per cent of staff exit Denmark’s most highly regarded university

February 11, 2016
copenhagen job losses denmark bohr
Source: istock
The University of Copenhagen was Denmark's top institution in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016

More than 500 staff will lose their jobs at the University of Copenhagen after its funding was slashed by government.

A total of 532 academics and support staff – around 7 per cent of all employees – will leave the Danish university as part of efforts to save money under plans announced this month.

Around half of the job losses (323 in total) will be made via voluntary redundancy, with around half of all cuts falling on administrative services and half on academic posts, the university said.

The job cuts come in the wake of the government’s budget last month, which asked the university to find annual savings of 500 million krone (£52 million), the equivalent of around 6 per cent of total revenue.

More than 330 jobs will be lost across science and health, the largest faculties, while 90 staff will be cut from the humanities, according to the institution. Copenhagen is regarded as the country’s top university, and was ranked 82nd in the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The university will also reduce its intake of PhD students by 10 per cent, which will have a “noticeable effect on Danish research capabilities in 5 to 10 and 20 years’ time”, according to Ralf Hemmingsen, the university’s rector.

He told his university’s internal news site that Copenhagen had managed to find efficiency savings of around 2 per cent a year in recent years, but the new cuts may mean that “important support functions around students, researchers and teachers will lapse or be conducted on a smaller scale”.

“Losing so many good employees is a considerable loss of knowledge and competencies,” he said.

The budget cutbacks are likely to “create an entirely new economic framework for Danish universities”, the university’s news site warned.

Denmark’s universities do not charge tuition fees to domestic or EU students.

“Despite many years of declining education funding, the University of Copenhagen has managed to maintain a stable economy thanks to a stable basic subsidy, a high level of research and the ability to attract more external funding for the university’s activities,” said Professor Hemmingsen.

This economic situation has now been “changed radically”, he explained, adding that “politically, we have no security for our budgetary situation in 2019”.

“So we’re going to have to cut to the bone in some places,” he said.

“We’re now reviewing how the organisation goes about solving tasks. And we will see faculties that will need to make further adjustments as a result of local developments in revenue and expenditure,” he added.

The university is now assessing how many small language programmes will be offered in the future, and it may also review some medical science programmes that require expensive equipment.

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