17 April 2018

Margrethe Vestager named new distinguished alumnus at the University of Copenhagen


EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is the new distinguished alumnus at the University of Copenhagen. The University of Copenhagen is adding her to the list of other prominent alumni such as Lars Rebien Sørensen, Søren Ulrik Thomsen and Bodil Nyboe Andersen, who have all been honoured for their outstanding contributions within their field of expertise and who have demonstrated commitment and loyalty to the University.

“With the appointment of Margrethe Vestager, the University of Copenhagen will have a distinguished alumnus, who in no time has become recognised on the international political scene to the extent that she is often referred to as a 'rockstar'. She literally makes Denmark bigger. However, she often returns to her old university to debate with alumni and students,” says Lykke Friis, Prorector for Education at the University of Copenhagen.

The celebration of Margrete Vestager as a distinguished alumnus takes place on 6 October 2018 in connection with the Alumni Day at the University of Copenhagen.

From the University of Copenhagen to Christiansborg

In the late 1980s, Margrethe Vestager swapped the vicarage in West Jutland for student life in Copenhagen. And even though the young girl was looking forward to a more anonymous life in Copenhagen, it did not take many days, according to Berlingske Business, before her fellow students at the University saw Margrethe Vestager get up on a box, committed to changing the world that was now her everyday life.

However, according to Margrethe Vestager herself, it was not concrete career plans that took her from the University of Copenhagen to a high-profile job in the EU.

Margrethe Vestager holds an MSc in Economics from 1993, and that  same year she became General Secretary of the Social Liberal Party where she had already been active for several years. The first part of her political career was within the Party, but in 1998 Margrethe Vestager was appointed Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, the then youngest female minister in Denmark. Then followed some difficult years for Margrethe Vestager and the Social Liberals with declining support until the party in the 2011 general election won a record number of votes and, with Margrethe Vestager as 'kingmaker', Helle Thorning-Schmidt became Prime Minister.

Taking on giants

Since taking office as EU Commissioner in 2014, Margrethe Vestager has had a highly visible profile on the international scene, where she has taken on giants such as Google, Amazon and McDonalds. The Economist has pronounced Margrethe Vestager the most effective cartel breaker for years, and with great flair she has managed to firmly put cases of tax evasion and fair market conditions on the popular agenda.
She is the only Dane to appear on Time Magazine's 2017 list of the most influential people in the world, and in Denmark she was named  Dane of the Year 2016 by the Berlingske newspaper.

Margrethe Vestager has transcended from being a successful politician to the EU citizens’ watchdog at the very highest level. She says that if her hands are trembling when she is up against one of the giants, she thinks about the 500 million citizens behind her.

Education and knowledge create strong societies

Through her political work, she has advocated for more education and training for more Danes. “I believe in a future where we can create a strong and vibrant society through education, knowledge and cooperation," she pointed out, for example, in her Constitution Day speech in 2013.

About her time at the University of Copenhagen, she says:

“I remember my student life as a time when we 'slept in piles' and many of my friends go right back to my student years. It was intense, tough and fun at the same time. It has shaped me - both professionally and socially.


University of Copenhagen Alumni Association
Senior Consultant Lisbeth Ihlemann
Tel.: + 45 35 32 39 55
Mobile: + 45 21 22 49 55
Email: lii@adm.ku.dk