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SDU’s institutional plan has been approved

SDU is now almost ready to submit a plan to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science describing how the University complies with the political agreement on more and better educational opportunities throughout Denmark. While SDU wants to strengthen the University’s regional position, this should not accomplished by reducing the number of student places in Odense.

The Board of SDU board has approved 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’ launched in June 2021.

All universities have been required to submit an institutional plan to be included in an overall sectoral plan, which will be concluded with the political parties during the spring. SDU has been tasked with submitting a plan outlining how the University can reduce or relocate student enrolment in Odense by 10% in 2030, corresponding to 665 student places.

SDU supports regionalisation

SDU welcomes regional education and research activities. For almost 25 years, SDU has established a broad geographical presence, and SDU wants to continue to offer high-quality regional research-based education, as it provides the greatest value for students, staff and the surrounding community.

With its institutional plan, SDU seeks to strengthen the University’s existing campuses in Esbjerg, Sønderborg, Kolding and Slagelse with the establishment of new courses of study and a more distinct, individual campus profile.

Furthermore, SDU also sees opportunities to expand its already strong regional presence with, for example, maritime education programmes in Svendborg and university degree courses in Vejle. Likewise, SDU will investigate the possibility of regionally offering some of the programmes that other Danish universities plan to close.

- We are already a unique, regional university at the highest international level. We know how to run campuses outside the big cities, we have the infrastructure to relocate programmes, and we have an excellent collaboration with local actors, says Jens Ringsmose, Rector of SDU.

Expects a discount

As a university, SDU has many strengths that can play a constructive role in the political ambitions for a new balance between geography and education. 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 educational activities.

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

- SDU appeals that SDU in Odense be exempted from having to reduce student admissions, or that the University should be granted a discount of at least 5%. The University will continue to try to convince the political landscape of this in the next few months.

The regional campuses rely on a strong main campus

The prerequisite for SDU to be able to operate a well-functioning campus structure outside Odense is precisely that SDU in Odense remains a strong research and educational powerhouse with a close connection to the other regional campuses and research environments.

- Another dire consequence associated with reducing student places in Odense is that it will also inadvertently weaken 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. SDU is interconnected, says Rector Jens Ringsmose.

If a reduction of 10% in Odense is realised, about 30% of SDU’s students will be admitted outside of Odense in the future, whereas the other Danish universities will be admitting somewhere in between 0-10% outside their main campus.

A plan in two phases

SDU has chosen to divide the plan 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 120 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.

Relocation and reductions towards 2025

Specifically, towards 2025, SDU proposes to relocate the Bachelor programme Public Health Science to Slagelse, as well as the Master’s degree programmes International Business Communication (English) and MSc in Business Administration and HR Management.

SDU also proposes to relocate a number of student places to Esbjerg – specifically the Master’s degree programme in Medicine and the Master’s degree programme in Sports and Health – Competition and Elite Sports. Finally, SDU is considering establishing an English-language Master’s degree programme in Political Science in Sønderborg.

In addition, SDU proposes to relocate a considerable number of student places from the Data Science education programme as well as the MA in Journalism programme to Kolding.

The demand cannot be fulfilled solely through relocations. Student places at 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 estimates that the plan until 2025:

  • 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 is 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 agreement and the draft institutional plan. Against this background, SDU’s management has submitted the plan to the Board for approval.

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 preliminary 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. Thank you. The process and the result clearly show that SDU is a whole and stands united in our determination to accomplish even the difficult tasks, Jens Ringsmose says.

The future course

SDU must submit its institutional plan to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science on 12 January. As adjustments may be made to the final plan, the entire institutional plan cannot yet be published in full.

- It is important to emphasise that the institutional plan which has now been approved by the Board is our best bid for a plan for the Ministry. The exact final plan is somewhat hard to predict, as it isn’t only up to SDU to decide, explains Jens Ringsmose, Rector of the University of Southern Denmark.

In the subsequent negotiations, the University will fight for the political recognition of its regional presence, so that the 10% reduction may be avoided.

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 the spring of 2022.

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


Watch a video with Rector Jens Ringsmose elaborating on the decisions in the plan and the prior process, at the bottom of the following page:

View a summary of SDU’s preliminary institutional plan in danish only from this link


Editing was completed: 13.12.2021