Out of responsibility for Austria. Government Programme 2020 – 2024
Reaction statement of the Austrian Science Council
Science and research form the foundation for social progress and innovation. They help individuals to better understand the major challenges of our time, such as climate change and digital transformation, and provide society with the means to respond to them.
With this in mind, the Austrian Science Council welcomes the comprehensive considerations and plans of the new Federal Government on science and research. Among other things, the further development of the study law and governance structures as well as the expansion of research funding and the establishment of an Excellence Initiative are crucial corner stones for strengthening Austria as a science and research location.
Measures to enable a well-based choice of study and high-quality study conditions form the essential basis for the education and training of young people. Accordingly, the Science Council expressly supports, among other things, the implementation of an Austria-wide study on the social dimension, career and study aspirations of Matura students and the development of a life- and performance-related study law.
The Science Council is particularly concerned with the further development of the promotion of young researchers and the improvement of career prospects as well as attractive conditions for researchers. Consequently, the focus on educational export and internationalization on the one hand, and the legal regulation of access to scientific data on the other, are particularly to be welcomed.
Higher education institutions are essential pillars of a knowledge society and centres of knowledge transfer and exchange. To be able to fulfil these tasks, financing- and planning security as well as efficient governance structures are indispensable. The commitment to secure university budgets, the projects to modernize university organization and administration, and the further development of quality assurance in higher education and reporting are all supported by the Science Council. Last but not least, the Science Council welcomes the plan to further promote the development of profiles in the higher education sector while at the same time fostering cooperation between the sectors.
The new Federal Government considers the strengthening of both basic- and applied research to be a particular concern. In this context, the Federal Government's announcement to support the strengthening and expansion of Horizon Europe (2021 to 2027) at EU level is seen as extremely positive.
A comprehensive RTI strategy (including the RTI pact) and the establishment of an annual RTI summit are also very welcome. The Science Council also considers the transformation of the National Foundation into a "Fonds Zukunft Österreich" for research, technology and innovation to be a sensible measure.
The Science Council not only highly welcomes the intention to pass a Research Financing Act, which provides non-university research with funding- and planning security and includes a growth path for research funding, but also urges for rapid decision making. This will make the research landscape more attractive and secure it in the long term by means of competitive framework conditions.
Furthermore, the Science Council strongly supports the establishment of an Initiative for Excellence. In agreement with the FWF, the Science Council is convinced that such a programme - equipped with the appropriate funds and aligned with the highest scientific quality standards - represents an effective lever for the further development of the Austrian science and research system.
On its own behalf, the Science Council continues to consider not only a "review" but also a prompt settlement of the institutional reorganization of the Science and Research Councils to be a sensible measure. It remains central to use the expertise and strengths of the existing Councils in the interest of Austria's diverse science and research landscape and to minimize existing frictional losses.
The Science Council once again emphasizes that it welcomes the comprehensive considerations of the new Federal Government on science and research. At the same time, it urges to take up the preparatory work of the past months and to move quickly from the project level to the implementation level - in the interests of students and researchers, universities and research institutions: out of responsibility for Austria as a science and research location.