DENMARK: Scientists not sacked

On 14 February, University World News published a report titled DENMARK: Sackings create confusion and anger. The article stated that more than 80 scientific staff in the departments of geology and biology at Copenhagen University had been sacked in January "with immediate effect".

The story was based on reports in a university newspaper Universitetsavisen of 28 January that we subsequently learned has no official status. Professor Katherine Richardson, Vice Dean for Public Outreach at the university, has pointed out that some details in our story were wrong.

She says the number of staff immediately affected was 14, none were "sacked with immediate effect" and all have at least six months salary and the right to work in that period.

In an email to University World News, Professor Richardson writes:

"In addition to these 14, a further 20 staff have either taken early retirement or have moved to other positions/funding forms. The background for this is that (in response to the current government's stated political objective) the block funding for the faculty as a percentage of total budget has fallen from 65% to 39% over the past five years.

"During that same time, there has been an increase in both the amount of money coming into the faculty (20%) and in the number of scientists employed (increase of 27%). As there is a budgetary requirement that expenditures do not exceed income, there is a need to adjust the numbers of scientists traditionally supported by the block grant.

"Personnel adjustments are also being made among the academic staff in three other faculties of the university at the same time in order to bring all institutes in a position where their expenditures do not exceed income.

"It is also relevant to note here that there has been a drop in student numbers for these disciplines in the past decade that also helps explain the need for a reduction in faculty. In geology, the drop in numbers of newly enrolled students has been 56% over the past 10 years. In geography, the drop has been 32%," she says.