News from the Senior Management Group no. 31/2012

Finance Bill maintains 2012 level

Even though Denmark is in the throes of an economic crisis, the Danish government has chosen to maintain the level of funding for research and education in its new draft Finance Bill for 2013.

It is proposed that basic funds be maintained at the current level and run over three years, that the FTE rate increase of DKK 5,000 be maintained for humanities and social sciences and that funds are found to finance the increasing educational activities as a result of the universities’ increased intake this year.

According to the draft Finance Bill, in 2013 DKK 20.2 billion will be invested in research and development, corresponding to 1.07% of GDP. For the past three years, the level has been 1.08-1.1%. The draft Finance Bill also mentions the launch of university building projects for DKK 6.5 billion. Of this, DKK 6 billion stems from the agreement on laboratory renovation.

In an information letter to the universities, the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education sets out more funding conditions, including: the establishment of data warehouses, joint chart of accounts, transition to Navision Stat, figures for the number of hours of teaching per study programme, intensified digitalisation, safeguarding strong research environments and PhD programmes that support the university college’s academic areas, formulating talent strategies and maintaining the total number of PhDs enrolled at 2,400.

At the time of writing, the actual consequences for Aarhus University are being assessed.

Rigsrevisionen criticises universities

The quality of the Danish university study programmes is criticised in a new report from Rigsrevisionen, the state auditor, which has studied the effects of the FTE rate increase of DKK 5,000 a year for social sciences and the humanities.  The Danish Minister for Science, Innovation and Higher Education will now demand that the universities document both the number of hours of teaching and the level of research in future.

Aarhus University has performed well in the survey. The number of teaching hours has increased by 10%, while the proportion of teaching by researchers has increased by 60% on the selected study programmes. Aarhus University has, like other universities, guaranteed a minimum number of hours in 2014 of 12 lessons while emphasising that efforts will generally be made to develop the educational environment and the learning processes at the university.

Rigsrevisionen has also measured the average number of hours offered to Bachelor’s degree students, and here Aarhus University tops the list of the multi-faculty universities with 15 hours a week.

Aarhus University has indicated that the report from Rigsrevisionen does not take the complexity and framework conditions for the universities into account as it is too simplistic to just look at lessons and the proportion of teaching by researchers as indicators of research-based education. An important precondition for AU to guarantee a minimum number of hours for Bachelors is that the Danish government has announced in the latest Finance Bill that it will maintain the increase in FTE rates for Humanities and Social Sciences.

ERC Starting Grant for researching social inheritance

The 36-year-old professor with special responsibilities Mads Meier Jæger from Aarhus University has been awarded a Starting Grant of DKK 10.2 million from the European Research Council’s elite research programme for his research project Understanding Intergenerational Transmissions: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach (UNITRAN).

The project will study which mechanisms lie behind social inheritance, and how it is possible to prevent certain family patterns from being passed on from one generation to the next.

The research project, which will draw on models from both economics and sociology, runs from January 2013 until December 2017.

Each year, the European Research Council (ERC) awards two types of grants: Starting Grants and Advanced Grants. Last year, the following researchers at Aarhus University received ERC grants:

Advanced Grants 2011

  • Life Sciences: Professor Bo Barker Jørgensen, Department of Bioscience
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering: Professor Poul Jørgensen, Department of Chemistry
  • Life Sciences: Professor Preben Bo Mortensen, Department of Economics and Business
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering: Associate Professor Lars Peter Nielsen, Department of Bioscience

Starting Grants 2011

  • Life Sciences: Associate Professor Trine Bilde, Department of Bioscience
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering: Associate Professor Lars Bojer Madsen, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering: Associate Professor Jesper Buus Nielsen, Department of Computer Science
  • Life Sciences: Senior Researcher Matthias Ketzel, Department of Environmental Science, is a partner in this multi-partner project which is being coordinated by the Danish Cancer Society

New strategic grant for research into membrane proteins

The senior management team has granted DKK 15 million of the university’s strategic funding for research into membrane proteins. Backed by the new grant, Professor Søren Kragh Moestrup from the Department of Biomedicine is heading a new research centre, MEMBRANES, where the body’s membrane proteins will be studied at the highest academic level.

The new research centre, MEMBRANES, is building bridges between biomedicine, molecular biology and clinical medical research. The centre has its roots in the main areas Health and Science and Technology, and many of the researchers in the new membrane centre are also affiliated to the new study programme in molecular medicine.

For decades, the membrane protein field has been a prominent area at Aarhus University. The foremost practitioner is Professor Jens Christian Skou, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997 for his discovery and characterisation of the sodium-potassium pump.

AU inaugurated new teaching facilities at Fuglesangs Allé

The new S building on Fuglesangs Allé, which was inaugurated last week, houses a brand new learning and study environment for BSS students with modern facilities and more space.

Several of the new teaching rooms are equipped with the latest technology, and will, for example, support teaching which is more IT-based and inclusive.

In addition to about 600 new reading spaces and various meeting and group rooms, a new communal area will provide space for up to 1,200 students for large academic and social events. At the same time, several functions, including Study Administration and the IT help desk, will be merged in a joint unit so that students only have to visit one place when they need help.  

Annual celebration for as many people as possible

There has been an overwhelming level of interest in tickets for the annual celebration event in Concert Hall Aarhus on 14 September. By now, everyone who has applied for tickets should have been informed how many tickets they have been allocated for this evening event. The tickets have been distributed according to a first come, first served principle.

However, to ensure that as many people as possible can join in, Kongreskompagniet, which is responsible for distributing the tickets, would like to hear from anyone who knows that they will be unable to attend. Please let us know if you are unable to come by sending an email to or by calling tel. +45 8629 6960.

At the same time, we ask that you return any tickets you do not need to Kongreskompagniet, Nordhavnsgade 4, 8000 Aarhus C. As we are unable to reprint tickets and do not know the location of your seats in the auditorium, we would like the tickets back so others can use them.

Extensive help in seeking research funding

The proportion of external research funding has increased markedly in recent years, and there are many opportunities for applying for significant contributions for your research. The funding can be for general purposes as well as for very specific research areas, equipment, specially targeted postdocs, travel grants etc.

Examples of financing possibilities from foundations, authorities and businesses which have application deadlines in the near future include:

  • Region Midtjyllands Sundhedsvidenskabelige Forskningsfond – DKK 27.3 million for awarding in 2012 – deadline 15/9
  • COWI – approx. DKK 2 million – deadline 15/9
  • Villum Foundation (postdoc scholarships) –  DKK 40 million – deadline 1/10
  • Carlsberg Foundation – DKK 100 million – deadline 1/10
  • AIDS-Fondet – approx. DKK 6 million – deadline 15/10

Information about the various financing possibilities can be found in the on-line database Using the database’s different search options, researchers are able to find information about individual foundations and the grant donors’ objective, deadlines, application requirements, budget framework, websites, contact info etc. The database also enables researchers to create a personal profile, and then receive reminders by email with information about new foundations which are targeted at their particular research area, and approaching deadlines for selected foundations.

The database was developed by the Research Support Office at Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University. The Research Support Office provides assistance in connection with the database and applying for external funding.

CULT pays a visit

On Wednesday 29 August, representatives from the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education visited Aarhus University. The participants included the committee’s chair Doris Pack (MEP from Germany) and the Dane Morten Løkkegaard (MEP for Venstre, the Liberal Party of Denmark), who is vice-chair.  

The purpose of the visit was to learn more about the university’s experiences with international educational partnerships at a time when tomorrow’s educational programme “Erasmus for All” is being discussed within the EU. In addition, the committee visited the Alexandra Institute and CAVI, where they were shown examples of strong partnerships between the university, the business community and the public sector.