Question 3

Top researchers work in global networks. Austria has to remove legal barriers in its labour code and tax law that stand in the way of active academic exchanges by way of scholarships, fellowships and other forms of short- and medium-term quasi-employment. What are your plans to strengthen Austria's position in the international research community?

SPÖ – Social Democratic Party

Eliminating the present labour code and tax law barriers confronting foreign researchers who wish to work in Austria is a top priority for us. Scientific excellence critically depends on frequent, unhampered international exchanges of researchers.

However, the removal of barriers, while eminently necessary, is far from sufficient. The make-or-break factor for the attractiveness of Austria's academic and research sector is the quality of the work done here and the international reputation it enjoys. Efforts to improve excellence in research, as mentioned under item 2, are key in this respect as well.

ÖVP – People's Party

Excellence in science and research depends on the best minds of tomorrow. We therefore want to create more positions for young researchers at our universities to improve their career opportunities and give them reliable prospects in research work. Additionally, we need to further develop existing instruments to attract highly qualified staff to Austria so that our country can successfully compete for top talent.

FPÖ – Freedom Party

Barriers that affect the work of top experts have to be removed. Instead of offering a "welcoming culture" for all, Austria should welcome precisely these individuals. Moreover, measures should be taken to make staying in their home country an attractive option for top Austrian researchers. Examples could include long-term funding commitments and the development of excellence clusters. Legislation on research funding (which the government has been promising since 2009) should be urgently adopted. The term of performance agreements should be extended to five years to improve visibility for medium-term human resources planning.

Die Grünen – Green Party

Many problems in this field are unfortunately linked to xenophobic attitudes which we need to combat at all levels. Generally speaking, excessive bureaucratic processes should be reduced, not only for researchers coming to Austrian universities, but also for students. Barriers that need to be eliminated include double tuition fees, required proof of assets and barriers to gainful employment while residing in Austria as a student as well as after graduation.

NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum

Government policy-makers should work with research communities to define the strategic goals of structural funding policies, but they should abstain from intervening in specific contract awarding processes under funding programmes. On the other hand, funding agencies have to act independently, subject to applicable legislation, and take full responsibility for outcomes. Political parties should be absolutely barred from interfering in funding or staffing decisions.

As regards non-university, non-profit research institutions, their activities should be ensured by basic infrastructure funding, along the lines of that provided for universities and universities of applied sciences. This should be awarded in competitive tender and assessment processes based on the competing institutions' presentations of past achievements and plausibility of demand. Funds should be granted on the basis of performance agreements, to be concluded with the involved institutions subject to official approval by the relevant public authorities. In addition to potential basic funding for non-university, non-profit research institutions, we believe that further, project-based financial support should be provided to non-university (and collaborative) research along the lines of project finance granted for university research.