Massive layoffs to hit research and education
The University of Copenhagen is cutting deep into its staff in response to the Danish government's cutbacks. Even though a great deal of the savings are aimed at administration and service, they will affect the quality of education and research many years ahead
More than 500 teachers, researchers and employees in service and administrative jobs will now be leaving the University of Copenhagen. This corresponds to 7% of all staff. 209 employees can anticipate being laid off while 323 jobs are either discontinued or terminated via voluntary redundancy. In addition to this, the university will have to reduce its PhD intake by 10% in the coming years. This is the outcome of the government’s 2016 Budget which imposes huge savings on research and education.
“Losing so many good employees is a considerable loss of knowledge and competencies. We have found the larger part of the savings within administration and service in an attempt to spare education and research as much as possible. But this also means that important support functions around students, researchers and teachers will lapse or be conducted on a smaller scale. And we will have to reduce our PhD production, which corresponds to cutting into the vital research value chain. This will have a noticeable effect on Danish research capabilities in 5-10 and 20 years’ time," says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen.
Around half of the positions now being shed have been found through voluntary redundancy. The university’s administration has also suffered significant cutbacks, with, for example, procurement, the annual celebration and study administration being reorganised. Altogether, the university must save DKK 500 million or the equivalent of around 6% of total revenue. The largest faculties – Science and Health – account for more than 330 discontinued jobs. At the Faculty of Humanities, the number is around 90.
For several years, the universities have increased their production on a broad scale while also streamlining to the effect of more than 2% a year. Among other things, this is a result of the government’s annual cut in taximeter funding for education. Since 2010, funding has been slashed by some 10% per student. But the cutbacks in Budget 2016 have created an entirely new economic framework for Danish universities.
“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. Unfortunately, this economic situation has now been changed radically. And 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. 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,” Ralf Hemmingsen says.
At the moment the university is in the process of assessing how many small language programmes may be offered in the future, just as some of the medical science programmes with expensive equipment, laboratories and stalls will be given a thorough makeover to see if they are financially viable in the future.
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Shed positions in numbers
- Every fourth position to be shed is a researcher
- The layoffs will take place 9-11 February 2016 when the affected employees will be called for consultation meetings and given notice of intended dismissal
- The number of shed jobs at UCPH equals 7.4% of staff
Shed positions* at faculty level corresponds to:
- Social Sciences 5.8%
- Law 7.1%
- Theology 13.2%
- Health 6.6%
- Science 7.6%
- Humanities 8.7%
- Central Administration 8.1%
(*) Shed positions are the total number of voluntary redundancies, discontinued vacant positions and dismissals.
About UCPH finances
With Budget 2016, the University of Copenhagen is certain to lose approx. DKK 300 million a year as a result of the reprioritisation payment on education, reduction of the state research reserve and a special rent subsidy regulation with regard to the new South Campus building on Amager. Around half of the savings will be found within administration and service, with the other half coming from education and research, including the PhD intake.
With redundancies, dismissals and discontinuation of a total of 532 positions, these savings have now been found. However, in addition to this, the Budget has created uncertainty about the universities' long-term finances, just as programme resizing and the study progress reform create uncertainty about revenues. In any case, the University of Copenhagen will lose another DKK 200 million from the Budget funding allocation in a couple of years. These savings are yet to be found. A number of organisational analyses have been initiated in order to find opportunities for additional revenue, cost savings and even more efficient administrative services.