News from the senior management team no. 16

Fewer specialised studies packages at upper secondary level will improve academic standards

The new upper secondary school reform aims to reduce the number of specialised studies packages to a total of 49 at Danish upper secondary schools (STX), technical upper secondary schools (HTX) and commercial upper secondary schools (HHX). The senior management team would welcome an even more drastic reduction in the number of specialised student packages to no more than a small handful based on its conviction that such a move would strengthen the core academic competencies of students.

This was the message from Rector Brian Bech Nielsen and Pro-rector Berit Eika, who last Friday joined the debate about the new upper secondary school reform in Denmark.  Their article on is intended to set the scene for the forthcoming debate at Denmark’s Political Festival. 

Debate about priorities in the healthcare system

Allan Flyvbjerg, dean of Health, and Rikke Søgaard, professor of health economics, want to involve the wishes and values of citizens more in decisions about priorities in the healthcare system. In a comment in the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende on 23 May, they make the point that the price of medicine is not the only factor to be taken into consideration. The article is intended to set the scene for the forthcoming debate at Denmark’s Political Festival. 

Addressing gender inequality in research

In an article in the newspaper Information published on 23 May, Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, Vice-dean of Arts Anne Marie Paahus and Vice-dean at Health Lise Wogensen Bach describe how Aarhus University intends to remove the structural and cultural barriers encountered by women in their daily work at the universities. The aim is to increase the proportion of female researchers at the top of the career ladder.

An action plan for AU as a whole was recently adopted after a broad consultation process at the university. Departments, schools and centres are already in the process of identifying initiatives to be included in their local action plans between now and 2020. 

AU to contribute to more informed debate on research and education at Denmark’s Political Festival

Through its presence at Denmark’s Political Festival on Bornholm on 16–19 June, Aarhus University aims to contribute to a more informed debate about the universities and to push research higher up the political agenda. The programme includes debates on progression in the educational system, smarter research investments and presentations of research on some of the challenges currently facing society.

The AU research vessel Aurora will again this year be hosting the activities as part of a research expedition in the Baltic Sea.

If you are going to be on Bornholm for Denmark’s Political Festival – in either a professional or private capacity – you are welcome on board the ship on 16 June, when AU is hosting an informal get-together for AU employees. 

Accreditation panel visits AU

An accreditation panel will be visiting Aarhus University on 1 and 2 June. The eight-member panel is composed primarily of managers from Scandinavian universities, but also includes one student. 

The panel visit is the first of two visits which will taking place this year as a key element of the institutional accreditation process. The purpose of the visit is for the panel to gain more in-depth insight into the AU’s quality assurance policies and systems, which they have read about in AU’s evaluation report. In addition, the panel needs a basis for deciding what they want to look at in more depth when they pay a second visit. During the visit, the panel will be holding meetings with managers, teaching staff and students to learn more about AU’s quality work within education.

The senior management team is looking forward to welcoming the panel, and to offering the members new insight into how we work every day to ensure a high level of quality in Aarhus University’s teaching and educational activities.

Before the next visit, which is scheduled for the week commencing 31 October 2016, the panel will identify a number of audit trails intended to shed light on AU’s quality assurance in practice.

Award for excellence in chemistry and political economics

Last Wednesday, Professor Karl Anker Jørgensen and Professor Torben Iversen received the Rigmor and Carl Holst-Knudsen Award for Scientific Research 2016. At the formal ceremony in the Main Hall, five talented PhD graduates were also honoured.

Two Niels Bohr professorships to AU

The National Centre for Register-based Research at Aarhus BSS and the Department of Physics and Astronomy have each received a DKK 30 million (approx. EUR 4 million) grant to fund a Niels Bohr Professorship. The professorships are being established to promote increased collaboration between Aarhus University and international top researchers.

Directors of studies want to increase response rate in forthcoming study environment survey

How can we improve the response rate in the forthcoming survey of the physical and psychological study environment?

This was one of the questions discussed last week when the Committee on Education gathered all the directors of studies for the Directors of Studies Forum.

Two students from the Student Council were invited to the meeting to give their views on how the ambition could be realised. They suggested, among other things, drawing more attention to the improvements to the study environment which have resulted from previous study environment surveys.

For the last study environment survey in 2014, the response rate was 40 per cent, which is good for a survey of this kind. However, Pro-rector Berit Eika would like to see an even higher response rate:

“The best people to provide feedback on developments within the study environment are the students themselves. We are therefore very keen to know what can be done to motivate and encourage them more. And then, of course, we must do our bit by continually working to transform talk into action.”

The next study environment survey will be carried out in the autumn.

Seven new recommendations for the physical study environment

At the meeting, a new inspiration catalogue was presented, which sets out seven specific recommendations for the future study and campus environment at AU.

The seven recommendations should be seen as a preliminary attempt to strengthen the local efforts being made to improve the study and teaching facilities at departmental and faculty level, but they are also intended as a contribution to AU’s strategic work with the physical development of the Aarhus, Herning and Emdrup campuses.

The Committee on Education will now present the recommendations to the faculties for further discussion, and the recommendations will also serve as a source of inspiration for the future campus development of the AUH Nørrebrogade area. 


·        1–2 June: First visit by the Danish Accreditation Institution panel

·        14 June: Aarhus University Board meeting

·        16–19 June: Denmark’s Political Festival on Bornholm

·        23 June: Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, visits AU

·        27 June: Opening of the International Conference on Agricultural Engineering, Concert Hall Aarhus

·        30 June: Main Liaison Committee (HSU) meeting



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