Politics

Now the university reform is milder – but there are hefty penalties for plagiarism

Austria’s rectors was the first draft law, according to which students must provide a minimum level of performance in their studies, far too mild. Science Minister Heinz Faßmann proposed 24 so-called ECTS points (one ECTS point corresponds to around 25 working hours) as a minimum. That went way too far for student representatives.

Faßmann has now agreed on only 16 ECTS points with the Greens science spokeswoman Eva Blimlinger, which is “manageable”. In response to criticism from rectors and students, Blimlinger only said: “If both sides are not completely satisfied, we have done the best.” If so decided, this will only apply from the winter semester 2022/23 onwards.

Ineligibility for two years

Faßmann also acts mildly with the threatened bans if students do not achieve this minimum performance. The university’s ban is not ten, as originally planned, but only two years.

The terms of office have also been reorganized. Rectors may only be reappointed a maximum of two times, which limits the maximum term of office to twelve years, but there is no longer an age limit (the limit was initially given as 70 years).

For members of the university senate (next to the rectorate and the university council, the highest governing body of a university), the term of office of the senate (which is elected every three years) is limited to a new limit of four terms of office (12 years). A re-appointment of the rector only requires a simple majority of the university senate and university council.

Improvements for fast students

Improvements are also planned for students – or no worsening: It remains, for example, that universities have to offer three examination dates per semester, Faßmann wanted to reduce that to two first.

An even greater advantage for the students: those who achieve 120 ECTS points (around 180 ECTS points are required for a Bachelor’s degree) can conclude a “Learning Agreement” with their university and are privileged, for example for seminars that are full , lined up. Professors must undertake to take over their master’s theses and correct them on time.

Because one goal is to get the students through their studies faster; the novella would give universities and students the certainty that those who are about to graduate will actually finish their studies. The other big goal: Faßmann wants to have at least two Austrian universities in the top 100 in the international university rankings (Times Higher or Shanghai) by 2030. The University of Vienna is currently the best in 134th place on Times and 151-200th in Shanghai rankings.

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