18 January 2019

The District Court has ruled in favour of the University of Copenhagen in doctoral degree dispute


The University of Copenhagen now has the Court's word that the revocation of Milena Penkowa’s doctoral degree was lawful. The decision is welcomed by the Academic Council, which awards doctorates and revoked Penkowa’s degree in 2017.

The Copenhagen District Court today found for the University in a doctoral degree case, which had been brought by Milena Penkowa. A doctoral degree is the highest academic recognition and is awarded on the basis of high academic credibility, considerable scientific insight and maturity. The Academic Council at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences had assessed that Milena Penkowa did not meet these criteria and, accordingly, that she could not keep her doctoral degree. Today, the Copenhagen District Court upheld this decision.

"We are satisfied with the Court's ruling, which underpins our own assessment of the case. The doctoral degree is the universities' finest scientific recognition, representing the highest academic level. Since the beginning of the case, we have said that we would see the case through and that the University takes scientific misconduct very seriously. We have also sought to foster a culture where research groups and managers in fruitful dialogue can discuss good scientific practice", says Dean at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Ulla Wewer. She also chairs the Academic Council at the Faculty.

Background of the case

Milena Penkowa submitted her first doctoral dissertation in 2001, where part of the animal testing referred to in the dissertation had not been carried out. To cover for this, Milena Penkowa falsified documents, which was later established by the Eastern High Court in 2016. She withdrew her dissertation and later submitted another one on which she was awarded a doctoral degree in 2006.

If the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences had known of the situation, which was subsequently uncovered in criminal proceedings in the Eastern High Court, the Faculty would have refused acceptance of the second dissertation, which gave Milena Penkowa her doctoral degree. Therefore, the Academic Council unanimously decided to revoke the degree in September 2017.

Good scientific practice

The University of Copenhagen seeks to ensure good scientific practice and has launched initiatives in the form of strengthened education in good scientific practice, clearer rules for reporting misconduct and poor scientific practice as well as specially named persons to deal with enquiries about these issues. Read more about the University's rules for good scientific practice.


Jasper Steen Winkel
Director of Communications
Phone: +45 3532 4262
Mobile: +45 2875 4262
Email: jsw@adm.ku.dk