News from the Senior Management Team no.41/2012

Strategy submitted for consultation

A draft of Aarhus University's strategy for the 2013-2020 period was submitted for consultation Thursday 15 November. The consulting parties comprise the academic councils, the four interdisciplinary fora, the Main Liaison Committee as well as the university's student political organisations.

The draft for the forthcoming strategy refines and clarifies AU's present course. The draft is based on comprehensive strategy work at the departments, main academic areas and in the cross-faculty bodies concerned with the core activities for research, education, talent development and knowledge exchange.

The strategy for 2013 to 2020 will decide the general framework for the concrete strategy work. It will then be implemented while respecting the diversity that also characterises Aarhus University. Once the strategy has been formally adopted, it will be implemented through action plans involving collaboration between managers and employees with the aim of realising Aarhus University's vision for 2020.

The consultation phase ends on 14 December 2012. Any contributions will then be considered during the last phase of the process as part of revising the draft which will result in the final strategy. It must be submitted for adoption by the University Board on 27 February 2013.  

Please address any questions you may have about the strategy process and content to Pro-Rector Søren E. Frandsen at or 8715 2032.

Finance Act provides scope for manoeuvre

At the time of writing, the effects of the Finance Act (Finanslov) for 2013 which has been agreed by the Danish government and the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) are being calculated – and how the Finance Act will specifically affect Aarhus University. It is encouraging that the parties behind the agreement are maintaining the universities' basic funding at 2012 level despite the recessionary mood. Together with the granting of DKK 770 million for strategic research by the parties behind the

Finance Act, (read more in newsletter no. 40) the research budget for 2013 totals DKK 20.2 billion, or 1.07% of GDP. Denmark is thereby living up to the Barcelona objective of public investments of at least 1% of GDP in research and development (R&D). In total, Denmark has committed to investing 3% of GDP in R&D.  

The Finance Act for 2013 is a vote of confidence in the universities and emphasises that research-based knowledge building and knowledge sharing are crucial for ensuring society's development, growth and well-being.

Another very important factor is that the basic funding is being distributed over a three-year period. Previously, a one-year agreement was the norm, which in reality meant that Aarhus University needed to maintain sufficient equity to counter any funding fluctuations. Now, with basic funding for the next three years at 2012 level, the question of equity is not such a priority. This makes it easier to sustain and develop strategic initiatives within research, education, talents and knowledge.

Attention on EU budget negotiations

Expectations are running high when, this week, the EU’s heads of state and government discuss the EU budget for the 2014-2020 period.

Here, both the European University Association (EUA) and Euroscience have sent an open letter to the negotiators who are meeting in Brussels on 22-23 November.
Both letters draw attention to the fact that investments in research, education and innovation are necessary in order to maintain Europe’s competitiveness while expressing their support for the EU Commission and the EU Parliament's proposal for Horizon 2020 and the new Erasmus For All programme.

Euroscience is also encouraging the politicians to please act, and suggest that the present budget is increased by EUR 5 million by cutting the agricultural subsidies by a corresponding amount.
Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen is President of Euroscience and Vice-President of EUA.

Forty-two Nobel prizewinners, including Professor Dale T. Mortensen from Aarhus University, and five Fields Medal prizewinners have had an open letter to EU heads of state and government heads published in the Financial Times in which they explain why a greater level of investment is necessary.

AU behind large media architecture event

Last Thursday, the Danish Minister for Culture Uffe Elbæk and AU’s Pro-Rector Søren E. Frandsen and others opened the Media Architecture Biennale 2012 (MAB) conference which, over the next two days, brought together researchers, architects, designers and business players to discuss the media architecture of the future.

The purpose of the conference is to examine how technology, art and architecture can be combined, and over the next month up to 60 examples of how Aarhus's squares and building façades can be used as interactive and experiential media will be exhibited.

AU’s new interdisciplinary research centre, PIT, was the main player at the conference and is responsible, among other things, for the digital exhibition 'City Bug Report', which has transformed the City Hall tower into an interactive platform for the citizens of Aarhus.

All the exhibitions are free and can be seen at Godsbanen – The Freight Yard – from 15 November to 15 December.

Far more PhD students receiving external funding

Smartphones for helping women in labour in Ghana. New knowledge about what makes IT projects succeed in an organisation. These are just two of the industrial PhD projects from Aarhus University which are now seeing the light of day after being approved by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation.

In this round, the agency has approved a total of nine project proposals based at Aarhus University and an external partner, while two have been given conditional approval. Eight of the projects are taking place om collaboration with the private sector, while three are being carried out in the public domain.

However, the industrial PhD scheme is far from being the only type of collaboration between PhD students and external partners. And reports show that interdisciplinary collaboration is becoming increasingly widespread.

In 2011, 1,456 PhD students – almost three-quarters of all PhD students at Aarhus University – had received full or partial financing from an external partner.

This is a marked increase in relation to 2010, when more than half of AU's 1,822 PhD students were financed in full or in part by external funding.

Good idea resulted in textbook prize

An idea for a new book on cognitive psychology has won Simon Nørby from the Department of Education (DPU) the Lærebogsprisen 2012 (Danish textbook award).

The prize, which is given by the publishers Samfundslitteratur at this year's BogForum book fair, is being shared with Maria Nørby from the University of Copenhagen.

The Danish textbook award is for the best ideas for textbooks within all academic areas on long and medium-cycle further education programmes and supplementary training courses.

In 2011, the Lærebogspris was awarded to a group of AU researchers (in Danish) for their idea about a book on fictionality.


Kind regards,

The Senior Management Team, 19 November

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