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Aarhus University

Aarhus University
Aarhus Universitet
Seal of Aarhus University
Seal of Aarhus University
Latin: Universitas Aarhusiensis
Motto Solidum petit in profundis (Latin)
Motto in English
Seek a firm footing in the depths
Established 1928
Type Public university
Budget DKK 6.347 Billion ($1.124 Billion) (2013)[1]
Rector Brian Bech Nielsen
Administrative staff
Students 43,600 [2][3]
Undergraduates 17,504
Postgraduates 16,395
Location Aarhus, Denmark
Affiliations EUA
Logo of Aarhus University

Aarhus University (Danish: Aarhus Universitet, abbreviated AU) is a prestigious public university located in Aarhus, Denmark. Founded in 1928, it is Denmark's second oldest university[nb 1] and the largest, with a total of 43,600 enrolled students as of 1 January 2012,[2][3] after a merger with Aarhus School of Engineering. In most prestigious ranking lists of the world's best universities, Aarhus University is placed in the top 100.[6] The university belongs to the Coimbra Group of European universities.[7] The business school within Aarhus University, called Aarhus BSS, holds the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) Equis accreditation,[8] the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)[9] and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). This makes the business school of Aarhus university one of the few to have the so-called Triple Crown accreditations.

Denmark's first professor of sociology was a member of the faculty of Aarhus University (Theodor Geiger, from 1938–1952),[10] and in 1997 Professor Jens Christian Skou received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the sodium-potassium pump.[11] In 2010 Dale T. Mortensen, a Niels Bohr Visiting Professor at Aarhus University, received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences together with his colleagues Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides.[12]


  • History 1
    • Early developments 1.1
    • Faculties 1.2
    • The main building and World War II 1.3
    • Recent history 1.4
  • Campus 2
  • Organisation and administration 3
    • Main academic areas 3.1
  • Academics 4
    • International Centre 4.1
    • AU Summer University 4.2
    • Degree programmes 4.3
    • Cheminova controversy and academic freedom at AU 4.4
  • Major research centres 5
    • MINDlab 5.1
    • iNANO 5.2
  • Student life 6
    • Student organisations 6.1
    • Clubs and societies 6.2
      • Aarhus Student House (Studenterhus Århus) 6.2.1
      • Aarhus University Sports (AUS) 6.2.2
      • Dale's Café 6.2.3
      • Klubben 6.2.4
      • Studenterlauget 6.2.5
  • Notable Alumni, Faculty and Students 7
    • Former and Current Faculty 7.1
    • Alumni 7.2
    • Students 7.3
  • International Recognition 8
  • Residence halls 9
  • Partner universities and membership 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


View of the main building from the University Park

Early developments

Aarhus University was founded on 11 September 1928 as Universitetsundervisningen i Jylland ("University Studies in

  • Aarhus University
  • Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University
  • National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University
  • Danish School of Education, Aarhus University
  • Aarhus University, Institute of Business and Technology

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^
  5. ^ Albeck 1978, p. 293
  6. ^ QS Top Universities, [1], Aarhus University, 5 August 2013
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Agersnap T., "Theodor Geiger: Pioneer of Sociology in Denmark", Acta Sociologica, Volume 43, Number 4, 1 December 2000, pp. 325–330 (6).
  11. ^ Frängsmyr, Tore (Ed.), "Jens C. Skou: Autobiography"Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1997, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, 1998.
  12. ^ Niels Bohr professor at Aarhus University awarded Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, [2]
  13. ^ a b c d e f g
  14. ^ a b c d
  15. ^ Albeck 1978, pp. 163–165
  16. ^ Faber 1946, p. 62
  17. ^ Faber 1946, pp. 63–64
  18. ^ Faber 1946, p. 67
  19. ^ Faber 1946, p. 74
  20. ^ Albeck 1978, p. 265
  21. ^ Faber 1946, p. 52
  22. ^ Albeck 1978, pp. 266–267
  23. ^ Faber 1946, p. 95
  24. ^ Faber 1946, pp. 99–105
  25. ^ a b Faber 1946, pp. 114–118
  26. ^ a b Møller 1978, pp. 46–58
  27. ^ a b Fode 2005, p. 103
  28. ^ Fode 2005, pp. 102–109
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  39. ^ a b
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  51. ^ [3]
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  55. ^ The Board of the University of Aarhus, Aarhus University,
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  1. ^ The word "university" is here used in the traditional, Danish sense about an actual university. Today the word is also commonly used about all institutions of higher learning, including highly specialized institutions like DTU and CBS.[4] Traditionally, a European university consisted of at least four faculties: theology, law, medicine and philosophy.[5]


See also

Partner universities and membership

The residence halls in the University Park are located on campus; the other residence halls are spread all over the city.

  • Bronzealdervænget
  • Børglum Kollegiet
  • Dania kollegiet
  • Grundtvigs Hus Kollegiet
  • Hejredal Kollegiet
  • Herredsvej
  • Kirsebærhaven
  • Kløvergården
  • Kollegierne i Universitetsparken
  • Ladegårdskollegiet
  • Nørre Alle Kollegiet
  • Ravnsbjerg Kollegiet
  • Rundhøjkollegiet
  • Skejbygårds Kollegiet
  • Skejbyparken
  • Skelager Kollegiet
  • Skjoldhøj Kollegiet
  • Skovkollegiet
  • Stenaldervej Kollegiet
  • Tandlægekollegiet
  • Teknologkollegiet
  • Vilhelm Kiers Kollegium

Residence halls

University rankings
ARWU[65] 73
Times[66] 138
QS[67] 91

In recent years, Aarhus University has been moving up in international university rankings. The 2015 Shanghai Ranking ranks Aarhus University as the 73th best university in the world,[62] while the 2013 National Taiwan University Ranking ranks it as the 86th best.[63] while the Leiden Ranking considers the university as the 77th best among the largest universities in the world. The 2010 CHE Excellence Ranking includes seven research areas: Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Physics, Mathematics, Political Science and Psychology. Aarhus University has been evaluated as “excellent” in the field of Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Political Science.[64]

International Recognition



Former and Current Faculty

Notable Alumni, Faculty and Students

Studenterlauget, [61]


Klubben (which means 'The Club' in Danish) is a bar located at the former ASB (Aarhus School of Business), now under the faculty of School of Business and Social Sciences. The bar is open during regular school hours and weekdays, but hosts larger parties during Fridays and in relation to major sports events. Admittance is usually restricted to students of the School of Business and Social Sciences.


Dale's Café is a meeting place for international students and the university’s PhD students that opened in 2011. The café offers coffee, sandwiches and a wide selection of beers. It has an informal lounge area where students and young researchers can relax while enjoying snacks and beverages. Like the main building, Dale’s Café is named after Aarhus University’s 2010 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Dale T. Mortensen. The Dale T. Mortensen Building houses the International Centre, the PhD House and the IC Dormitory, which contains 28 dorm rooms and two apartments dedicated to recently arrived international PhD students.[59][60]

Dale's Café

AUS is the official sports club of Aarhus University, and is open to all university students. It is an umbrella organisation consisting of 14 independent member clubs, which host a wide range of activities, from badminton to fencing to chess. In addition, AUS also offers independent activities such as indoor soccer tournaments, gym facilities and skiing trips.[58]

Aarhus University Sports (AUS)

Aarhus University offers a free membership in Aarhus Student House to all exchange students. This is the meeting place for international and Danish students in Aarhus. Aarhus Student House organizes social and cultural activities throughout the year, ranging from parties to road trips, to language classes, to weekly international nights (a popular dinner club).[56][57]

Aarhus Student House (Studenterhus Århus)

Aarhus University offers many activities and services for foreign and Danish students. Several "Friday Bars", clubs organized and crewed by students at the university offer cheap beer and drinks, which has a wide appeal to the student body.

Clubs and societies

There are political students organisations at the university, the largest of which include the Social-Democratic Students (Frit Forum), Conservative Students (Konservative Studenter), and Liberal Students (Liberale Studerende). The Conservative Students union publishes the student magazine Critique. The Liberal Students union publishes the leaflet Minerva.

The largest student organisations at Aarhus University are the School of Business and Social Sciences. The Student Union has both student seats on the university board.[55] The Student Union also arranges annual concerts and seminars, and publishes the student magazine Delfinen (The Dolphin).

Student organisations

Aarhus University Sports (AUS) is open to all university students and organises a wide range of activities from badminton, to fencing and chess.

The university also has a number of libraries, some of which are open around the clock. Almost every department has its own library, but the main library is the State and University Library. It has an extensive electronic journal database which students and staff can access either at the library or from home.[54]

Students from different fields meet in the numerous Friday bars, in the Student House Aarhus[53] and at concerts in the University Park and around the rest of the city. The Friday bars are often organised by the different departments who set up a small bar in a canteen or classroom where beers and non-alcoholic drinks are served.

The State and University Library on the University Park campus (Statsbiblioteket)

Student life

The Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (founded in 2002 by Professor Flemming Besenbacher) offers a degree programme in nanoscience with an interdisciplinary curriculum covering a broad spectrum of introductory, advanced and specialised courses, aimed at providing the student with a sufficiently broad basis to conduct interdisciplinary research within nanoscience and at the same time achieve disciplinary depth and specialised skills in selected areas. Hence, the programme encompasses physics, chemistry, biology, molecular biology, mathematics and computer science.


MINDLAB was established with a DKK 120 million grant awarded by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. At MINDLab neuroscientists, psychologists, biologists, statisticians and researchers from other fields work together to understand the brain, its disorders, and its development through physical and social interactions – and vice versa.[52]


Some of the university's other major research centres include MindLab and iNANO.

  • Centre for Membrane Pumps in Cells and Disease (PUMPKIN)
  • Centre for Insoluble Protein Structures (INSPIN)
  • Centre for Geomicrobiology
  • Centre for Materials Crystallography (CMC)
  • Centre for DNA Nanotechnology
  • Centre for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN)
  • Centre on Autobiographical Memory Research (CON AMORE)
  • Centre for Massive Data Algorithmics (MADALGO)
  • The Water and Salt Research Centre
  • Centre for Carbonate Recognition and Signaling (CARB)
  • Centre for Research in Econometric Analysis of Time Series (CREATES) which is one of the best econometrics center according to Currently this center is positioned as second best center of research in econometric time series analysis. Furthermore, this center is considered as one of the best places to study a PhD in Econometrics.
  • Centre for Oxygen Microscopy and Imaging (COMI)
  • Centre for mRNP Biogenesis and Metabolism
  • Centre for Quantum Geometry of Moduli Spaces (QGM)
  • Centre for the Theory of Interactive Computation
  • Center for Theoretical Chemistry (qLEAP)

Aarhus University is home to 15 Centres of Excellence supported by the Danish National Research Foundation[50] and a considerable number of major research centres. The 15 Centres of Excellence are:[51]

Major research centres

The university's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Søren E. Frandsen denies that the university had made any mistakes or threatened the freedom of speech and academic freedom of its staff.[49]

In 2009, senior researcher Mette Jensen emailed her colleagues at AU, asking whether they thought Cheminova should stop selling the controversial pesticides. For this, the university threatened her with dismissal.[48]

Aarhus University is the owner of the chemical manufacturer Cheminova, who controversially has been selling the methyl parathion pesticide to Brazil farmers.[47]

Cheminova controversy and academic freedom at AU

The university offers eight undergraduate and about 60 graduate programmes in English-language[39][46]

Aarhus University offers both undergraduate and graduate programmes in the following fields:[45]

Lakeside Lecture Theatre
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Department of Mathematics

Degree programmes

Starting in 2011 all summer courses and summer schools offered by Aarhus University for Bachelor's, Master's and PhD students will be gathered together and expanded to provide more diversity in a new framework: AU Summer University. In the summer of 2011 more than 80 courses were offered within the fields of humanities, theology, social sciences, health sciences, natural sciences, agricultural sciences, business and educational sciences. Summer courses are open to both Danish and international students.[44]

AU Summer University

The International Centre maintains international partnerships and combines a wide range of services for exchange students, international full-degree students, PhD’s and visiting scholars. The International Centre is often the first stop for foreign students at Aarhus University, since the centre offers advice on finding housing and living in Denmark.[43]

International Centre

As of 1 October 2014, more than 42,000 students were enrolled in Aarhus University.[3] Each year more than 1000 international exchange students come to Aarhus University to study for one or two terms. In 2009 close to 3000 international students were enrolled in full degree programmes.[38] Aarhus University is an international university with a large proportion of students at the post-baccalaureate level: over half of its students are enrolled in master's degree and PhD programmes. In 2011, 59 of the university's 113 Master's degree programmes were taught in English.[39] Talent development of young researchers has been identified as one of the university’s core activities.[40] This means that highly qualified students have the option of starting their PhD studies before completing their master's degree. The university's doctoral programmes allow talented students to enroll in a combined Master's/PhD programme either right after completing the bachelor's degree (the 3+5 track) or one year into their master's degree programme (the 4+4 track).[41] Since 2006 the number of PhD students has risen from approximately 1000 to approximately 1700 in 2010.[42]


Since 1 January 2011, the university has been organised into four major main academic areas:[37]

Main academic areas

The university is governed by the University Board which has 11 members: six members recruited outside the university form the majority of the board, two members are appointed by the academic staff, one member is appointed by the technical/administrative staff, and two members are appointed by the university students.[36] The rector is appointed by the university board. The rector in turn appoints deans and deans appoint heads of departments. There is no faculty senate and faculty is not involved in the appointment of rector, deans, or department heads. Hence the university has no faculty governance.

Organisation and administration

Aarhus University also has a small campus in Emdrup in Copenhagen (approx. 6.000 students), where the university's programmes in education and pedagogy are taught and researched.[34] It is due for expansion by 2020, and the small Environmental Science Unit at Frederiksborgvej 399, Roskilde is due to move there. In the city of Herning, there is also a small campus where a few of the university's business, engineering and technology programmes are taught, the AU Herning division.[35]

Apart from the main campus, Aarhus University has several smaller campuses and departments throughout Aarhus.[32] This includes the campus of Katrinebjerg, where the computer science institute also teach and do research. Archaeology and anthropology takes residence in Moesgård Manor, an old manor house at the new Moesgård Museum.

The campus master plan competition was won in 1931 by the collaborative scheme of Danish architects Kay Fisker, C. F. Møller and Povl Stegmann in collaboration with landscape architect Carl Theodor Sørensen. The design includes a wide variety of buildings over a large space, but each building is composed of the same yellow brick and roofing tile, giving the whole campus a unified look. Construction commenced in 1932 and has continued into the 21st century. The original main building was one of the first Danish functionalist public buildings and has been included in the Ministry of Culture's canon of Danish architecture; it is acknowledged as one of the twelve most significant architectural works in the cultural history of Denmark. C. F. Møller and his company, C. F. Møller Architects have continued as architects of the campus ever since.[29] The main buildings of the university are placed in and around the University Park (Danish: Universitetsparken). The park and campus has been expanded throughout the years, in 1957 the old park of Vennelystparken, just south of the University park was included. In a harmonic interplay with the park, the yellow buildings form a campus that has received international recognition for its aesthetic values and it has been protected by law since 1993, in order to conserve its unique design.[30][31]

Aarhus University's main campus is located in central Aarhus.

Vennelystparken, the southern section of the University Park.
The University Park


In recent years, several higher education institutions have been merged with Aarhus University. Following the Danish University reform of 2006, it merged with the HIH in Herning and the DPU in Copenhagen, making the university nationwide and adding 6,000 students. In 2012, Aarhus University's School of Engineering was merged with the university proper, making it Denmarks' largest.

Aarhus University has hosted notable musical events. The Grateful Dead played here on April 16, 1972. The performance was recorded as part of their Europe '72 tour.

In 1994, the university was a scene of a shooting; 3 people (including the perpetrator) were killed and two more were injured.

Aarhus University was an independent institution until 1970, but with management representatives from the city council and the organization of Universitets-Samvirket. Hereafter, the university became a state-run institution under the first University Act. With the next University Act in 1992, external organizations were once again represented in the administration and under the 2003 Act, all Danish universities are governed by a nationwide university board. This board appoints the rector, deans and heads of departments instead of the students. It commenced in January 2004 for the first time and in August 2005, it appointed a new rector.[13][14]

Recent history

On 31 October 1944, the Royal Air Force bombed the Gestapo's headquarters in residence halls 4 and 5, also killing ten civilian workers. 2 Group Bomber Command carried out the bombing by using 25 Mosquito planes. The air strike on the University of Aarhus took place in a heavily populated area and the campus was surrounded by three hospitals. To avoid civilian casualties, the RAF prepared with a model of the campus, shooting at residence halls 4 and 5 with chalk bags. The architect C. F. Møller was in the main building during the air strike but survived and was later dug free from the rubble. The reconstructed main building opened on 11 September 1946.[25][26][28]

Undergrunden i Jyland ved at blive revet op af Gestapo. Vigtigere at få ødelagt arkiver og bevare vore folk end at bevare arkiver og få ødelagt vore folk. Jeg beder indtrængende om, at kollegium 4 og 5, gentager 4 og 5, må blive ødelagt ved luftangreb. Det er de to vestligste, gentager vestligste, bygninger i universitetskomplekset. Haster, gentager haster.
("Underground in Jutland getting torn up by the Gestapo. More important to get the archives destroyed and save our people than getting our people destroyed and save the archives. I implore that residence hall 4 and 5, repeat 4 and 5, be destroyed by air strike. They are the two farthest to the west, repeat farthest to the west, buildings of the university complex. Urgent, repeat urgent.")

The presence of the Gestapo in Aarhus led to multiple arrests of Danish resistance fighters and the resistance movement soon realized they needed outside assistance. On 15 October, the leader of the illegal Danish underground army in Jutland, Niels Bennike, sent the following telegram to London:[27]

The construction of the building took place during the German occupation of Denmark (1940–45) during World War II, which affected the process in more than one way. No state funds had been involved in the construction of the first university building and a second building for physiology, biochemistry, and a high voltage laboratory, but because the Nazis were against civil use of material and working force, the state contributed to the building. In 1943, the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst, Geheime Feldpolizei and Abwehr set up their regional headquarters in the five student halls of residence on campus. Fearing that the same would happen to the new main building, its completion was delayed. C. F. Møller later wrote that for once there was plenty of time to work on the details of the building, like patterned brickwork, acoustic screens and furniture.[26][27]

In 1938, the university management acknowledged it was time to consider an expansion because of lack of space and the overcrowding of the auditoriums. The solution was not an administration building, as this was not to be built until 1964. Instead a new main building was planned, containing both the different subject areas as well as the administration. The building was to be organized according to a principle of institutes so that teaching and research took place in certain rooms with their own library and study for the professor.[25]

Memorial in the main building to honour the ten victims of the 1944 air strike and the two workers killed during construction in 1941.

The main building and World War II

Courses had been offered in theology since 1932 at the Faculty of Humanities, but in 1942 the Faculty of Theology was formally established.[14] Already on 22 June 1928, Reverend Balslev of Aarhus had proposed that Universitetsundervisningen i Aarhus (not yet university) taught basic courses in theology. Though the proposal was greeted by the management, the Faculty of Theology in Copenhagen pointed out that it would take 3 full-time teachers of the New Testament, Old Testament and ecclesiastical history, respectively as well as education in Latin, Greek and Hebrew by the Faculty of Humanities. At this time, Universitetsundervisningen i Aarhus did not have the financial means to meet these criteria so the case was shelved for the time being. In April 1931, the case reopened, this time by Bishop Skat Hoffmeyer who proposed free teaching in the required subjects. The management asked the faculty in Copenhagen if this was acceptable, but because the teaching was free, the faculty saw it as tutoring rather than actual teaching and they neither approved or disproved of such an approach though they did not see it as actual university teaching. The municipality of Aarhus did not aid with funds and the management deemed a request of the state to be futile so they decided to disregard getting the teaching approved and start it anyway under the supervision of Skat Hoffmeyer. On 5 September 1932 Reverend Asmund held the first lecture in theology. This private education in theology continued until the university could hire its own professors in 1938, and in 1942 Aarhus University could at long last establish the Faculty of Theology.[13][24]

The university established its Faculty of Economics and Law in 1936, but when it offered courses in political science and in psychology (1959 and 1968, respectively), the faculty changed its name to the Faculty of Social Sciences.[13] The faculty had to be funded solely on private donations and once the university demonstrated it had the needed financial means, the Minister of Education recommended the Finance Committee to approve the establishment of the faculty on 27 January 1936 since the state did not have to grant financial support. The Committee approved and by declaration of the king on 5 November 1937, the faculty could hold examinations in economics and law.[23]

Aarhus University had offered courses in basic medical subjects from 1933 and on 10 October 1935 the Faculty of Medicine was formally established.[20] The establishment of a Faculty of Medicine in Aarhus was met with some opposition from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Copenhagen. The professors thought that the state should not establish a new Faculty until the shortcomings of the old one had been solved. In the end, the professors agreed to sign a recommendation for the new Faculty as long as improvements to the old one were not delayed.[21] By 1953, the Faculty of Medicine had been fully built, complete with lectures, professorship chairs, final exams, research facilities and the hospitals of Aarhus had been expanded to meet the demands of clinical training.[22] In 1992, the Faculty of Medicine merged with the dental school and changed its name to Faculty of Health Sciences.[13]

From 1928, Aarhus University offered courses in languages and philosophy, but the students were unable to finish their studies without going to the University of Copenhagen for their final examinations. By request of the Ministry of Education, the Teachers' Association made a draft of how to conduct the final examinations in the humanistic subjects in Aarhus and in the draft, the Association proposed that the faculty was named the Faculty of Humanities by analogy with the corresponding faculties in Uppsala, Lund and Turku. After negotiations between the faculties in Aarhus and Copenhagen, the King declared on 8 May 1935 that the final university examinations could be held at the Faculty of Philosophy in Copenhagen as well as at the Faculty of Humanities in Aarhus. This was the first final examinations Aarhus University was allowed to hold, but on 24 July 1936 the king granted the Faculty of Humanities the right to hold examinations for the magister degree and in 1940 for the PhD.[13][19]


The inauguration was celebrated in a tent on campus and attended by King Christian X, Queen Alexandrine, their son Crown Prince Frederick and Prime Minister Stauning together with 1000 other invited guests.[17] On 23 April 1934, Aarhus University was given permission to hold examinations by the king and on 10 October 1935, Professor Dr. phil. Ernst Frandsen was appointed the first rector of the university.[18] Since 1939, C. F. Møller Architects has been responsible for building activities of the university which today has a floor area of 246,000m2 in the University Park alone and a series of buildings outside the Park with a total floor area of 59,000m2.[13]

In 1929, the municipality of Aarhus gave the university land with a landscape of rolling hills.[14] The design of the university buildings and 12 ha campus area was assigned to architects C. F. Møller, Kay Fisker and Povl Stegmann, who won the architectural competition in 1931. The first buildings housed the Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Anatomy and were opened on 11 September 1933, the same year the name Aarhus University was first used. The construction of the buildings was funded solely by donations which totaled 935,000 Dkr and the buildings covered an area of 4,190m2.[15] One of the most generous contributors was De Forenede Teglværker i Aarhus ("The United Tileworks of Aarhus") led by director K. Nymark. Forenede Teglværker decided to donate 1 million yellow bricks and tiles worth c. 50,000 Dkr and later decided to extend the donation to all bricks needed to construct the building.[16]


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