Horak sums up: “The universities have had their day as the immediate place of revolt.” But it doesn’t always have to be a revolution. Being political can also be a little tamer without the desire for a complete overthrow.
And politically, the students are now as they were then, believes the Green Club woman and former ÖH chairman Sigrid Maurer. “Every generation of student representatives says: ‘We were much more political and the others are apolitical’. But there is always discussion. ”Sometimes there are smaller or larger waves. The current generation is absolutely critical. “Universities are and will remain a place of critical discussion and also of exploring boundaries. That is inherent in science, ”says Maurer.
Others aren’t so sure. They fear that Austria’s universities are increasingly coming to grips with the idea of Universitas – comprehensive education as an aid to understanding the world. “Due to the Bologna system, the pressure is much stronger today, there is less freedom and less room for personal development,” says social scientist Andrea Schaffar.
She teaches at various universities and was previously chair of the ÖH at the University of Vienna. “I feel sorry for today’s students,” she says. “They don’t have time to try around and find out what they stand for politically. Everything they do has to be economically usable or at least measurable. ”And political engagement is only poorly measurable. So is it increasing schooling, deadlines, career and labor market orientation that turn universities into training factories instead of places of political discourse?
It’s not that simple, says Horak. According to his thesis, the origins of the problem lie much further in the past. “Since the end of the bipolar world order, it has become much more difficult to locate oneself politically.” Today you have to know a lot to be political at all. “One is no longer the good one and the other is automatically the bad one. Even the outrage has become more difficult because you have to be very careful what you stand for or against. “