News from the Senior Management Team no. 20/2013

Education on the agenda

Recently, the Danish minister for higher education hosted the annual Education Summit in Kolding. The minister has announced that the government wants a more coherent higher education system, with more opportunities for individual students. A high-quality educational system which ensures that Denmark will not lose jobs because of a shortage of qualified labour. Educational institutions should gear themselves more to the needs of society and the labour market. Clear and flexible educational pathways through the system are needed together with a culture of learning with a high level of student engagement and activity and motivating and challenging teaching at all levels.

Aarhus University supports the minister's vision of a more coherent and flexible educational system, and has been working towards this end for some time. However, it is crucial to maintain the high standards in the degree programmes, and not to compromise on the quality and the research-based teaching at the universities.

AU has in this connection a positive working collaboration with VIA University College and the Danish School of Media and Journalism, and initiatives such as AU Summer University can be used to create even more coherence.

The minister's statement that degree programmes should be business-oriented is completely in line with developments in the sector, which is generally educating more students for the private sector. However, the large, multi-discipline universities are also educating students for the public sector, for example upper secondary schools, hospitals etc.

Aarhus University's employment survey in 2012 showed that 41% of AU's graduates were employed by the private sector and 55% by the public sector. Finally, it is important not to forget the universities' international perspective and the global labour market. This was not a prominent topic at the Education Summit 2013, but it is crucial for the universities' continued development.

Everyone invited to attend AIAS opening

The Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS) is holding its official opening on Thursday 13 June, and all employees and students are welcome to register for the event.

At the event, AIAS Director Morten Kyndrup and Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen will welcome everyone, after which Professor Björn Wittrock from Uppsala University will talk about the special organisational category to which AIAS belongs. Björn Wittrock is Principal of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS), which is a similar institution in Sweden.

The newly appointed AIAS Senior Fellow Cheryl Mattingly will then give an academic talk before the reception.

The official opening of AIAS takes place on 13 June at 14.00 at Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B.

Recognition for innovative elite researchers

Five researchers from Aarhus University have received coveted grants from the two top tiers of the Danish Council for Independent Research's Sapere Aude programme. Sapere Aude grants are awarded to innovative researchers to give them the freedom and peace of mind to pursue their work for a period of up to five years. The Sapere Aude grants are a distinguished acknowledgement of the researchers' work and their way of tackling research.

Two AU researchers have received the so-called DFF Advanced grants:

  • Lars Birkedal, Department of Computer Science (DKK 11.9 million)
  • Michael Rohr Drewsen, Department of Physics and Astronomy (DKK 11.7 million)

Three AU researchers have been awarded DFF Starting grants:

  • Assistant Professor, PhD, Nikolaj Thomas Zinner, Department of Physics and Astronomy (DKK 4.5 million)
  • Professor with special responsibilities (MSO) Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Department of Political Science and Government (DKK 7 million)
  • Associate Professor Christian Brix Folsted Andersen, Department of Biomedicine (DKK 7 million)

The third tier of the Sapere Aude programme – DFF Research Talent for young excellent researchers – has not yet been awarded for 2013.

Aarhus University contributes to innovation initiatives

Aarhus University has just submitted its comments on the so-called INNO+ catalogue, which constitutes a significant part of the Danish government's forthcoming innovation strategy.

Many of the university's researchers have been involved in the process and have thus contributed to creating the best possible professional foundation for prioritising future innovation projects within themes such as health, environment, foods and production.

The idea with INNO+ is to create a political decision-making platform for implementing new innovative investments and public-private partnerships. Work with the INNO+ catalogue started towards the end of 2012, and in recent months the Ministry of Education has worked with Aarhus University and a range of other stakeholders to assess and prioritise the close on 500 original project proposals.

Several of Aarhus University's strengths are included at the moment in the INNO+ catalogue, and it is expected that the university's researchers will to a great extent be able to contribute to creating solutions to the challenges faced by society which will ultimately be given priority.

Considerable interest in IDEAS grants

A total of 218 project proposals had been submitted when the application deadline expired for the second round of the Aarhus University Research Foundation's special funding programme AU IDEAS. 

The programme is intended to support researchers' creative and original research ideas through two different types of grants.

  • Project development: 1-2 years for testing the viability of a new research idea
  • Pilot centre: 3-5 years to investiage whether an idea can lead to a proper research centre

Ninety-one applications have been received for the pilot centres and 127 for project development.

The applications will be initially assessed by expert committees from all four main academic areas, before a jury makes the final decision on which projects will be financed.

AU IDEAS was established in 2011, and a total of 45 projects received support in the first round of grants.


Kind regards,

The Senior Management Team

The Senior Management Team publishes a newsletter every week. This newsletter includes a brief description of current activities and discussions. You can sign up for the Danish version of the newsletter at, after which you will receive an e-mail whenever the newsletter is issued.

If you would like to subscribe to the English version of News from the Senior Management Team, please go to The English version of News from the Senior Management Team is available at You can read previous editions of News from the Senior Management Team at