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New initiatives intend to mitigate the prospect of a massive study progress reform fine being imposed on Health

The research year increases the average time to degree for medical students – and that costs Health. A range of new initiatives that integrate student research on the medical degree programme will gradually replace the research year and diffuse a potential bomb under Health’s finances.

2017.06.01 | Mette Louise Ohana

Work is underway to determine whether a range of new initiatives that integrate student research throughout the medical degree programme can help prevent Health receiving a study progress reform fine that could – in a worst-case scenario – amount to DKK 28 million in 2020. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU.

If the medical students do not complete their degree programmes faster, then Health can expect a dramatic fall in revenues over the coming three years. A new prognosis shows that a fine running into millions of Danish kroner awaits due to degree completion times being too long in relation to the requirements of the study progress reform. At the same time, the faculty will miss out on major revenues from completion bonuses. The prospect of facing a shortfall of DKK 28 million if we continue as present is causing worry for the management team at both AU and Health.

With the introduction of two study progress reforms in the past year, valid reasons for delays in study completion have already been significantly tightened up. The research year – which approximately one third of all graduates make use of – has therefore come sharply into focus, as is clearly reflected in the financial situation. The initial reaction was a reduction in the number of students admitted twice annually from fifty to forty, which comes into force immediately.

Student research is a high priority 

However, there is consensus that the difficulties the study progress reforms causes for the research year must not be allowed to reduce the faculty’s ambitions for student-driven research.

"Involving the medical students in research is still important, both for the researchers and the students. Our vision is for more students to be engaged in student research in 2020 than today. At present, where we have been forced to reduce the number of research year students, we are instead working on several new initiatives to ensure that research will be integrated throughout the whole degree programme in medicine," says Dean Lars Bo Nielsen.

The faculty aims to increase the number of places on the new research-orientated honours programme that will already begin in the autumn. The faculty is also focusing on more fellowships for the PhD students who are enrolled on their PhD already while taking their Master's degree programme, and also on allowing them to begin earlier (the so-called 4+4 and 3+5 schemes). 

In addition, the plan is to develop one-year introductory scholarships for aspiring researchers, so that some research years are transferred from the actual degree programme to immediately after the final examination. Finally, the faculty will also work to integrate more research activity within the medical degree programme as part of the vision process that is currently being carried out on the degree programme. The number of research year students will gradually decrease between now and 2020 concurrently with the introduction of the new initiatives. 

Implementation requires preparation

Work is now ongoing on the new initiatives.

"Before we start, we need to examine what is possible financially and look into the financial consequences with regard to study plans and ministerial orders. That analysis begins now," says Lars Bo Nielsen.


Dean Lars Bo Nielsen
Health, Aarhus University
Tel.: (+45) 8715 2007
Email: larsbo@au.dk 



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