SDU forced to cut 515 student places on its bachelor programmes

The University of Southern Denmark is being forced to stop admissions to 19 degree programmes and reduce the number of students in several other programmes to meet the government’s requirements

The University of Southern Denmark must cut 515 student places on its bachelor programmes, 28 places on its professional bachelor programmes and 351 on its master’s programmes.   

This is the result of the University’s negotiations on the dimensioning of degree programmes which SDU has held with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science in recent months.

The background of the negotiations is the government’s decision to cut 3,500 undergraduate and 2,400 graduate study spaces nationally in the areas where unemployment has historically been highest.

“The Ministry identified in advance where the cutbacks needed to be made, and they are mostly in the humanities”, says Vice-Chancellor Henrik Dam. “This means that we have had to make the cuts within the relatively narrow range of programmes.”

When negotiating the cuts, SDU has been aware of the risk of creating small and vulnerable academic groups by cutting a fixed percentage of all the programmes specified by the government. Therefore, the University chose to focus on fewer academic groups and to give them the best opportunities for development. Unfortunately, this means that the University must close down admissions to entire degree programmes.

Cutbacks at SDU

As mentioned, the reductions mainly affect degree programmes in the humanities, where admissions will be closed to 17 programmes. Six of these programmes are provided in cooperation with social science. Two programmes in the natural sciences are stopping admissions.

“We need to start making cuts, but they won’t be as dramatic as suggested in the Ministry’s initial proposal. However, we’ve been somewhat taken aback by how heavy-handed the government has been with young, growing universities like SDU and Aalborg University, and by the fact that the model only takes past figures into account”, says Henrik Dam.

“We are helping to boost the development in parts of Denmark where a little extra push is needed to create progress, and for some of the affected academic areas we expect a better labour market than the past figures show. This is part of the reason why SDU has been sceptical of the model and its implications throughout the process.”  

The reduction in student places will be gradual, and the last part must be completed by 2020. It is estimated that the dimensioning – when it has been fully implemented in 2024 – will lead to a decrease in revenue of DKK 48 million.  

The campus towns

In Odense, 403 student places will be closed on bachelor programmes and 312 on master’s programmes. In Sønderborg 79 bachelor places and 12 master’s places will be closed. In Slagelse 33 places on two bachelor programmes and 28 places on one professional bachelor programme will be closed. 27 master’s places will be closed in Esbjerg. No changes will be made in Kolding.


SDU has approximately 24,000 full-time students in five towns: Odense, Esbjerg, Kolding, Slagelse and Sønderborg.

In September 2014, SDU admitted 5,418 new students.


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