Aalborg University criticised for financial mismanagement

The university spent 22 million kroner on furniture for its Copenhagen campus when it only needed to spend nine million kroner

The University of Aalborg’s excessive spending on furniture for its Copenhagen campus has led to strong criticism from the state auditor, Rigsrevisionen.

The university spent 22 million kroner on furniture but only needed to spend nine million kroner to outfit the campus with furniture. The excess furniture has been placed in storage, reports Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Rigsrevisionen said the university’s accounts for 2012 were “not satisfactory”, which is the worst criticism that the auditor can give.

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Inadequate financial management
“The university’s financial management has been inadequate. It is very serious and really rather incomprehensible," Rigsrevisionen's head of office, Bjørn Olsen, told Jyllands-Posten. “But there must have been a misunderstanding between the person buying and others who, in the meantime, had changed the layout of the rooms. They just didn’t talk properly to each other.”

Olsen also criticised the university for not setting a budget for the furniture, which he said was highly unusual.

Valid criticism
University of Aalborg's rector, Finn Kjærsdam, acknowledged the criticism.

“We didn’t have an investment plan,” Kjærsdam told Jyllands-Posten. "We are making that now. But I don’t think the money is wasted because we were given a discount for buying in bulk. The equipment can also be used later in other places.”

The university was also criticised for its 2012 budget deficit of 33 million kroner, which adds to the 2011's budget deficit of around 132 million kroner.

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Growing pains
Jyllands-Posten explains that the deficit is a result of accepting an ever-larger volumes of students, but not receiving the funding until the students have graduated.

“Our financial management has not been good enough and we have tightened up significantly to gain a better overview," Kjærsdam said. “Our problem is that growing as quickly as we are makes it difficult to have a full view. We have educations without enrolment limits. So how do you make a budget based on a student body growth of five or six percent, when it actually grows by 24 percent? In 2012 we grew by 54 percent [at the Copenhagen campus]. But we are in the process of fixing the problems."