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The Rectorate’s Column

A look into the crystal ball: What will 2024 bring?

At the start of a new year, it is customary for various newspapers and self-proclaimed futurologists to gaze into their crystal ball and guess which events and trends will have a particular impact on the coming year.

By Rector Jens Ringsmose, 1/31/2024

By the end of the year – and with twenty-twenty hindsight – however, most forecasters will likely have to admit that only a small proportion of their predictions stacked up. Notwithstanding, the fact that the predictions often miss the mark should in no way deter the ‘Rectorate’s newsletter’ from proposing three themes that will leave a significant mark on SDU during 2024. 

Firstly, it is fairly safe to predict that the master’s degree reform is going to require a lot of time and effort this year. The specific elements of the implementation plan for translating the framework agreement from June 2023 into concrete actions are planned to be adopted in October. However, I expect that by the end of February we will already know how the extra 1,100 international students places included in the agreement will be distributed. I also estimate that within a few months we will know how the decided sector dimensioning (at undergraduate level) will affect the individual universities.  

I believe – and sincerely hope – that the politicians will take into account that SDU, as part of the 2021 Regionalisation Agreement, prepared an ambitious institutional plan that calls for the setting up of a significant number of new degree programmes outside the ‘four largest cities’. If the Regionalisation Agreement is respected, the dimensioning of SDU will be more lenient in Jutland. 

My second prediction is linked to SDU’s total income from external funding. In 2023, for the first time in the University’s history, we reached DKK 1 billion in ‘external research funding’. It’s a milestone worth celebrating. Not because bringing home extensive research funding is a goal per se, but because external funding is a pivotal means if we are to fulfil the ambitions to raise the University’s research quality further. It is my prediction that we will achieve in excess of DKK 1 billion in 2024. At the same time, I believe that we will be awarded more EU funding – and not least ERC funds. Compared to the other Danish universities, we still have unfulfilled potential in the EU area. 

Finally, my third prediction is that we in 2024 will see roughly the same number of student admissions as in 2023. On the one hand, demographic developments – and fewer young people – point to a lower intake; on the other hand, there may well be young people who, due to the uncertainty about the consequences of the master’s degree reform, choose to start their studies in 2024 instead of postponing it until 2025. Finally, there may be some who decide to apply for admission sooner because they are aware that SDU will introduce a minimum entry grade requirement of 7.0 from the summer of 2025.  

We will be all the wiser about that – and everything else – in about 11 months and one week. Happy New Year! 

Jens Ringsmose

Rector at University of Southern Denmark

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Editing was completed: 31.01.2024