The Danish UNIK Initiative: An NPM-Inspired Mechanism to Steer Higher Education

  • Kaare AagaardEmail author
  • Harry de BoerEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Global Higher Education book series (PSGHE)


This chapter presents an analysis of the Danish UNIK initiative ‘Investment Capital for University Research’ (‘Universitetsforskningens Investeringskapital’) established in 2007 and implemented from 2009 to 2014. Specific funding for the UNIK initiative was provided through the Danish Finance Acts of 2008 and 2009, amounting to DKK 480 million (€64 million). The UNIK initiative was introduced as a new research funding mechanism aiming to strengthen the strategic steering capacity of the Danish universities. The initiative offered competitive funding to encourage Danish universities, as institutions, to strengthen their strategic efforts to prioritise research and to create a distinctive research profile. The idea was to fund a limited number of centres of excellence (CoE), based on proposals submitted by university management. The latter was novel in the Danish higher education (HE) system where almost all other project funding mechanisms are based on proposals from individual researchers or research groups. This new approach fits the logics of New Public Management (NPM), which favours, among other things, strong organisational management and competitive, market-based instruments, but stands in contrast to the traditional ways of funding research as well as the traditional notions of university organisation.


Globalisation Strategy Funding System Iris Group Funding Period Competitive Funding 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Center for Hr Education Policy StudiesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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