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SDU’s institutional plan has been submitted

SDU has submitted a plan to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science describing how the University intends to comply with the political agreement on more and better educational opportunities throughout Denmark. The content is largely identical to the draft presented to the Board in December. SDU wants to strengthen the University’s regional position, but this should not happen by reducing SDU’s student places in Odense.

The Board of SDU has now submitted the plan that presents SDU’s proposal on how the University can strengthen its regional position and thus contribute to accomplishing the set task the University was given as a consequence of the political agreement ‘More and better educational opportunities throughout Denmark’ from June 2021.

All universities have been required to submit an institutional plan which is to be concluded with the political parties this spring. SDU has been required to submit a plan outlining how the University can cut back or relocate student enrolment in Odense by 10% in 2030, corresponding to 665 student places.

SDU stands firm on its messages

SDU is still positive about the task of operating a broad, regionally based university. For almost 25 years, SDU has built up a broad geographical presence, and SDU wants to continue to offer high-quality regional research-based education programmes, as doing so provides the greatest value for students, staff and the surrounding community.

SDU wishes to shoulder the responsibility of regional presence, which it has done for years with its existing campuses in Esbjerg, Sønderborg, Kolding and Slagelse. The plan describes a desire to give each campus city a clearer and individual campus profile.

Furthermore, SDU also sees opportunities to expand its already strong regional presence with the establishment of new education programmes. Most recently, a letter of intent has been signed with Vejle Municipality in Jutland to find a basis for offering IT and engineering programmes in the city, while SDU is planning a maritime engineering programme in Svendborg, Funen.

SDU still expects a discount

As a university, SDU has many strengths that play a part in the political ambitions for a new geographical balance of higher education programmes. More than 20% of SDU’s student enrolment is located at the campuses in Sønderborg, Slagelse, Kolding or Esbjerg. SDU thus already fulfils the intentions of the political agreement on regional programme activities.

In the light of this, there is a clear expectation that SDU will not have to invoke a 10% reduction in Odense. Jens Ringsmose, Rector of SDU, explains:

- A reduction of this magnitude will inadvertently end up weakening SDU’s presence in the other campus cities. Several education and research groups transcend campuses, and reductions in Odense will ultimately affect all of the other campuses. Therefore, SDU finds it reasonable that SDU in Odense should be granted a discount: Instead of having to reduce 10% of the student places in Odense, we should be allowed to settle for 3-5%, Rector Jens Ringsmose says.

If a 10% reduction in Odense becomes a reality, about 30% of SDU’s students will be admitted outside Odense.

A plan in two phases

SDU’s plan to cut 665 student places in Odense is divided into two phases:

The first phase runs until 2025, when SDU will be making concrete proposals to relocate 316 student places, to establish at least 367 student places and to cut 330 student places in Odense, as is required of SDU.

The second phase runs from 2026 to 2030. At this stage, the plan is still a blueprint to be developed in the next few years in the light of societal development and SDU’s strategic priorities. With a demand to cut 10% of its student places, SDU will have to scale down by a further 335 student places by 2030.

Relocation and reductions towards 2025

Specifically, towards 2025, SDU proposes to relocate the Bachelor programme in Public Health Science , as well as the Master’s degree programmes International Business Communication (English) and MSc in Business Administration and HR Management to Slagelse. At the same time, SDU will work to offer Clinical Psychology in Slagelse in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen.

In Esbjerg, SDU will create a completely new Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programme in Law from 2023. In addition, already from 2022, SDU will relocate a number of student places on the Master’s degree programme in Medicine to Esbjerg. The University will also relocate the Master’s programme in Sports and Health – Competitive and Elite Sports to Esbjerg.

In Sønderborg, SDU plans to establish an English-language Master’s degree programme in Political Science and set up a new programme within Psychology and Technology.

In Kolding, SDU expects to relocate a larger number of student places on the Data Science programme, the Master’s degree programme in Journalism (Cand. Public) to Kolding as well as academic superstructure programmes in Climate Adaptation and Environmental Chemistry.

The demand cannot be fulfilled solely through relocations. Student places on a number of education programmes will have to reduced by 2025 if the reduction requirement of 10% by 2030 is to be implemented.

The programmes have been selected on the basis of three criteria: unemployment, quality of education and strategic considerations for SDU.

SDU’s management still finds that, until 2025, the plan:

  • will not affect students who have already been admitted and enrolled at SDU, in relation to their chances of completing their planned programmes.
  • will not result in unsolicited redundancies of employees.

An inclusive process

The approved institutional plan has been preceded by a comprehensive and thorough effort, in which the five faculties and all of the collegiate bodies of SDU have been involved and have had the opportunity to comment on the institutional plan.

And even though it has been a difficult set task, SDU’s Rector, Jens Ringsmose, is happy with the procedure over the last few months and the final result.

- I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation on the plan. It has been a very constructive process of involvement, and we have received lots of great contributions and arguments for the final plan. Having to cut student places is never fun, but at the end of the day, I am pleased that no redundancies are planned, even in a worst-case scenario, says Jens Ringsmose.

Further developments

The plan is currently with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, which will submit it to the political conciliation group for decision. It is expected that the institutional plan for SDU as well as the overall sector plan for all Danish universities will fall into place during winter 2022.

SDU will continue to communicate about the situation on a regular basis.

On the webpage, you will find all communications and information about SDU’s approach to the regionalisation process and here you will find the submitted plan as well.

Editing was completed: 12.01.2022