Question 5

How are you going to ensure that Austria's research infrastructure will continue to meet international standards? What will be done to provide sufficient funding for construction projects involving universities and other research institutions?

SPÖ – Social Democratic Party

Infrastructure has of course been considered in the preparation of the budgets which "Plan A" foresees for higher learning and research. We need to address this challenge by defining individual, site-specific solutions that meet the needs of the different fields. Construction projects to improve the teaching situation (e.g. new lecture halls) should be financed indirectly, through the general funding base granted under performance agreements. In the research field, proportionate overhead costs for the use of infrastructure should be charged to users, for example in the context of publicly funded projects that are awarded in competitions.

ÖVP – People's Party

Austria is among the top European players in the field of research. To ensure continued success we have to stay committed to the goal of raising research funding to 3.76% of GDP. At the same time, we have to maintain our consistent support for basic research and foster a stronger focus on output in applied research. This presupposes increased competitive research funding. Moreover, we want to launch a genuine excellence initiative by reserving more monies for the best research institutions.

Furthermore, we need to curb the uncontrolled proliferation of funding bodies and instruments, both at national and at EU level. Eliminating excessive bureaucracy should reduce the time and cost involved in submitting applications, reports and bills. Companies should have to submit no more than a brief, one-page description in order to quickly obtain preliminary information about potential funding options. Applications and all further processes should be done electronically.

In long-term research funding, we believe that we should follow the example of our neighbour Germany, whose "Pact for Research and Innovation" secures long-term funding for the country's major research institutions. Any long-term planning of this kind would also have to consider non-university research institutions in which the public sector has a participating interest.

FPÖ – Freedom Party

While infrastructure has to be ensured as part of university funding, the academic field has to undergo a restructuring process to effect profound changes in some areas. Collaboration between the universities and other research institutions should be intensified. We need to support projects such as "Silicon Austria" to bundle research activities.

Die Grünen – Green Party

Apart from the obvious answer – more money – cooperation is an immensely important factor in this respect. The joint efforts of as many scientific institutions as possible should contribute to the running of expensive research infrastructure. And we should finally get some insight into how much tax money is being paid out by the universities for rent and under other contracts to the government's real estate management corporation (Bundesimmobilien-Gesellschaft), and whether funds are misspent in this financial merry-go-round.

A completely new framework is required for non-university research institutions, many of which have clearly suffered as a consequence of the abolition of government support by Science Minister Beatrix Karl in 2010. Government support should be made available for these institutions as well, subject to clear-cut criteria based on scientific parameters and relevance.

NEOS – The New Austria and Liberal Forum

We advocate the creation of a results-oriented funding system. Public monies for basic infrastructure and for teaching, research and knowledge transfer should be allocated based on performance. To do this, the government needs to implement appropriate education and research strategies to actively promote teaching and research activities. We want the government to control further development through specifically adjusted performance agreements. Universities and universities of applied sciences have to pursue diversified strategies; they must collaborate in many areas, especially in research, and facilitate a high degree of mobility among students. Research infrastructure should be used concurrently and efficiently by multiple institutions.