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Three US professors are the latest to express their concerns about job losses at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, where up to 80 positions will be axed to meet funding cuts of DKr60m (nearly $10m) by 2017. The lion’s share of the cuts (DKr40m) will come from academic programmes.

In a letter written to Per Holten-Andersen, CBS president, the academics*, who all worked at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, say the cuts will do irreparable damage to what they describe as “the most important programme anywhere in the world that focuses on the integration of the humanities and business education”. The cuts come at a time when many business schools are trying to align management training more closely with the humanities.

It was in November that CBS made the announcement about the job cuts, which will amount to about 10 per cent of academic staff. A statement at the time by Prof Holten-Andersen highlighted a reversal in strategy by the school. “In 2012, we invested in a good deal of new academic staff to raise the quality of our programmes and research, but now we’re forced to bring the quality back to the level prior to that,” he said.

The reasons for the cuts relate to changes in the funding system in Denmark, says Prof Holten-Andersen. “The changed situation is partly due to recent political initiatives and reforms that now and in the near future affects the revenue we as a publicly funded university receive for educating students,” he says. “Also, in 2011 and 2012, the Danish university sector was under strong political pressure to decrease their equity, increase uptake of students and increase the numbers of face-to-face-lectures. Now CBS has to roll back parts of these investments.”

Face-to-face teaching will be the biggest casualty, although student enrolment and the number of programmes will not be reduced.

Meanwhile CBS professors have begun lobbying the business school to change direction, with more than 800 people signing a petition against the cuts.

One particular concern for academics at the school is whether tenure positions will be protected — about 50 per cent of academics at the school hold full-time, time-unlimited academic positions.

The announcement comes at a time when many business schools in Europe, most of which as state-run institutions, are facing similar cuts in funding. In Scandinavia it is a particular issue as the fees for degree programmes are tightly regulated. As a result there has been a rush of mergers by schools, particularly in France, to help build scale and minimise costs.

*Thomas Erlich, Anne Colby, William Sullivan

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