Österreichische Wissenschaftsrat

Functions of the Austrian Science Board

1. Advice It advises both the Federal Minister and the universities, as well as advising the National Assembly and the regional assemblies about matters concerning the universities and generally on special questions of scientific policy and the arts.

2.Monitoring, analysis and and recommendations Taking into consideration European and international developments, the Science Board observes and analyses the Austrian university system and as well as the related academic systems and prepares recommendations for their further development.

The legal basis of the Science Board is to be found in clause 119 of the University Law 2002. The Science Board is an organ of the State and is subject to the control of the Federal Minister. It was established on 13th December 2003.

The University law 2002 (BGBl 1 2002/120), which came into effect on 1st January 2004, represents a paradigm shift and a culture change in the nature of Austrian universities: the universities are now independent legal entities under public law, invested with autonomy and full legal responsibility. As a result the relationship between university and State is fundamentally reshaped.

New types of state control (Keyword - Performance Agreements) should complement the control processes created through the competition between the universities (Keywords - Profile Development, Knowledge Balance, Special Professorships). Consequently new needs for advice are emerging on the part of government as well as on the part of the universities.


Organisation of the Science Board

The Austrian Science Board comprises twelve members from different spheres of society, in particular from science and art, but also from commerce and industry. The members, acknowledged experts on the grounds of their individual and their institutional experience, are from Austria or from abroad. The Chairman is Prof. Dr. Antonio Loprieno (University of Basel), Prof. Dr. Rainer Blatt (University of Innsbruck) and Prof. Dr. Gabriele Kucsko-Stadlmayer (European Court of Human Rights) serve as Deputy Chairman.

There is an administrative office in Vienna which supports the Science Board in its work.


Working method of the Science Board

The Austrian Science Board produces its proposals in the form of recommendations and position statements. These are published. Every three years the Science Board submits a report of its activity to the National Assembly.

Legitimized by its international and disciplinary composition, the Austrian Science Board regards itself as an independent expert advisory body , authorised by its composition to work on its own initiative, placing its expertise at the service of Austrian scientific work and the Austrian university system.

Faced with what are now 21 autonomous universities the Austrian Science Board sees itself as a facilitating partner, equipped to act as a 'critical friend' in the development of Austrian academic system, in particular the university system; to point out inappropriate developments whether because of limited profile situations or structural weaknesses, and seek to convert these into opportunities. The tasks of the university constantly need to be conceived afresh, and this is certainly the case in the context of other institutions in the tertiary sector (e.g. Fachhochschulen) as well as against the particular background of European research and scientific developments.

Universities distinguish themselves as ever through the institutional linkage between research and teaching and "in an enlightened society should bring to fruition the quest for education and the autonomy of the individual through knowledge, as well as contribute to the solution of human problems" (§ 1 UG 2002). The Science Board also seeks to contribute to the achievement of these tasks through its position statements and recommendations.