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Financial statements 2018: Solid finances secure scope for academic development at Aarhus University

With solid, balanced finances at Aarhus University, the Board is confident that AU will be able to continue with its ambitions to strengthen strategic initiatives. The Board is also keenly aware of the challenge of covering overheads as a result of increasing research funding from external sources.

According to the 2018 annual report, approved by the Board at its meeting on 25 April, Aarhus University incurred a loss for the year of DKK 2 million from total revenues of DKK 6.6 billion.

"The result for 2018 is satisfactory in every way. It brings stability with regard to the University's operations, and it allows us to focus on further developing the University through our strategic initiatives,” says Connie Hedegaard, Chairman of the University Board.

Increased external funding challenges finances

Most of Aarhus University's revenues consist of government education and research grants (58%), external grants (29%), public-sector consultancy (6%) and other revenue items (7%). From 2017 to 2018, total revenues from the Danish Finance Act fell (in terms of fixed DKK), and AU has managed to compensate for this decrease by increasing the level of external funding. But this shift from public to private funding holds a challenge in relation to covering indirect costs such as administration, rent, research equipment etc. These costs are commonly known as overhead.

The large Danish public foundations administered by the Agency for Science and Higher Education and the research councils generally operate with an overhead of 44%. By far the majority of private foundations operate with far lower overhead, if any. This reduced coverage of indirect costs is a challenge, not only for AU, but for Danish universities in general. Therefore, the Danish universities have joined forces with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science to engage in constructive dialogue with the private foundations.

"The Aarhus University Board fully acknowledges the tremendous efforts by private foundations to enhance research at Danish universities. At the same time, we need to realise that the increasing share of external funding presents a problem with regard to covering fixed costs; the foundation of any research project. Universities Denmark has engaged in constructive dialogue with the foundations and the Ministry concerning this issue, as it’s in everyone's interest to maintain and further enhance Denmark's high level of research," says Connie Hedegaard, Chairman of the University Board.


Further information:

If you have any questions about the financial statements, please contact Anders Correll, AU’s Head of Press and Communication, ac@au.dk, + 45 28 99 22 35 

Strategic initiatives for Aarhus University:

  • Steer the graduate competency profile towards stronger focus on the private sector
  • Invest in engineering and digitisation degree programmes
  • Strengthen the Faculty of Arts with focus on languages
  • Strengthen the business area with more focus on research
  • Campus development, including the University City and Katrinebjerg
  • Invest in IT and digitisation at AU