May 22, 2017

Alliance of Austrian Science Organizations congratulates Harald Mahrer on being appointed Minister of Science

The promised billions for basic research, as well as the enrollment-based funding scheme for higher education, are initiatives essential to science and universities, and the implementation of these programs must not be delayed.

Now that Harald Mahrer has been inaugurated as the new Federal Minister for Science, Research, and Economy, the Alliance of Austrian Science Organizations is looking forward to a smooth continuation of the constructive and trusting cooperation that began during Harald Mahrer’s tenure as state secretary.

“With Harald Mahrer at the helm, we have a leader in the scientific sector who is ideally prepared for the position, and as such requires no transition time,” enthused FWF-President and spokesperson of the Alliance Klement Tockner. “Important decisions can be made quickly, and ongoing projects can be continued without delay.”

Of particular concern to the Alliance are the billions in funding for basic research that were previously promised by the federal government. These subsidies would greatly strengthen science and research in Austria, and their effects would be long-lasting. The members of the Alliance are unanimous in their conclusion: “The cancellation of these initiatives—which have already been approved by the government—would have devastating consequences for Austrian science and economy.” As new increases in research premiums have already been announced and will be implemented before the elections this fall, further decreases in research funding must be avoided at all costs. Basic research must be significantly built up and strengthened.

“Therefore, the Alliance appeals to Science Minister Mahrer, in the strongest possible terms, to prioritize the promised billions in research funding, and moreover to implement these measures before the next elections,” continued FWF-President Klement Tockner in his role as spokesperson of the Alliance. “This appeal is also addressed to Federal Chancellor Kern and Finance Minister Schelling, who have given their full support and helped bring about these resolutions for funding basic research,” concluded Tockner.

An equally important issue to the Alliance is the implementation of enrollment-based funding for higher education. “The new financing system for universities is one of the most significant projects in higher education policy in recent years, and we are a step away from its successful finalization,” stated uniko-President Oliver Vitouch. “In terms of financial stability, quality of education, and future viability, a conclusion to this process before the fall elections is necessary—otherwise, the matter will be put off until 2022.”

The Alliance of Austrian Science Organizations provides a platform for regular discussions of questions in science policy. Members of the Alliance comprise Thomas Henzinger (Institute of Science and Technology Austria), Helga Nowotny (ad personam), Klement Tockner (FWF, the Austrian Science Fund), Oliver Vitouch (Österreichische Universitätenkonferenz), and Anton Zeilinger (Austrian Academy of Sciences). The spokesperson of the Alliance changes annually; during 2017, Klement Tockner of the FWF acts in this capacity.