Parties pledge structural reforms, new strategies and investments vis-à-vis the Austrian Alliance of Science Organisations.
In the context of the upcoming national elections in Austria on 15 October 2017, the Austrian Alliance of Science Organisations put a list of questions to the political parties currently represented in parliament and campaigning in the elections: SPÖ (Social Democratic Party), ÖVP (People’s Party), FPÖ (Freedom Party), Grüne (Green Party) and NEOS (The New Austria and Liberal Forum). The questions cover a wide area from measures benefiting Austrian universities and investments in basic research or the promotion of excellence to the dismantling of legal barriers in labour legislation and the tax code.
Speaking on behalf of the Alliance for 2017, FWF President Klement Tockner said he was pleased with the tangible feedback received from all the parties approached. “It is important to know how the parties stand on the central themes of the future, science and research, and on universities. We, the members of the Austrian Alliance of Science Organisations, just like the general public, place our trust in the parties as such fulfilling these pledges after the elections – regardless of the individuals involved”, says Tockner with confidence.
Consensus in many spheres
The answers supplied to the five questions clearly demonstrate one thing: there is consensus across the political spectrum that science and research, as well as universities and non-university research facilities, need continued massive support and sustainable backing in the next parliamentary term. Asked about investments in basic research, the parties for instance foresee an increase of funding (SPÖ) and/or competitive funding (ÖVP), one billion euros for basic research (FPÖ), tripling the funds for the FWF (Grüne) or sufficient funding to allow the FWF to attain the level that funding agencies have at their disposal in leading countries such as Switzerland (NEOS).
When it comes to universities and non-university research facilities, all parties perceive the need for structural reforms and/or new strategies. Strategies include university funding reflecting capacities and student numbers (SPÖ), unified admission rules and procedures throughout the country and a higher education funding model (ÖVP), free access to higher education and a budget increase for universities (FPÖ), a reduction in drop-out numbers and better scholarships (Grüne) or more autonomy for universities as regards their selection of students and tuition fees (NEOS).
The list of questions and the respective answers of the parliamentary parties SPÖ, ÖVP, FPÖ, Grüne and NEOS can be found on the FWF and uniko websites:
Austrian Alliance of Science Organisations
The Austrian Alliance of Science Organisations is a platform for regular debates on science policy issues. The members of the Alliance: Thomas Henzinger (Institute of Science and Technology Austria), Antonio Loprieno (Austrian Science Board), Helga Nowotny (ad personam), Klement Tockner (Austrian Science Fund FWF), Oliver Vitouch (Universities Austria) and Anton Zeilinger (Austrian Academy of Sciences). Chairmanship of the Alliance is subject to annual rotation. For 2017, Klement Tockner from the FWF holds the chair.
Head of Public Relations and Science Communication