The Senate Chairpersons' Conference of the 22 Austrian public universities, SVK for short, held its most recent meeting on 24 October at the University for Continuing Education Krems and elected Prof Stefan Krammer, University of Vienna, as its new chairperson. In the run-up to the meeting, Prof Edith Gößnitzer, University of Graz, spokesperson of the Senate Chairpersons' Conference of Austrian Universities SVK and chairperson of the SVK meeting, spoke out in favor of better framework conditions and the transfer of more responsibility to young researchers in order to strengthen the research location and universities.

Prof Stefan Krammer was elected chairman of the Senate of the University for Continuing Education Krems at its meeting on 24 October. Krammer is Chairman of the Senate at the University of Vienna as well as Chairman of the Curriculum Commission and Head of the Center for German Didactics.

Prof Anja Grebe, Chair of the Senate of the University for Continuing Education Krems, acted as host of the SVK meeting. Grebe herself was represented by her deputy, Kay Mühlmann. The Vice-Rector for Research and Sustainable Development at the University for Continuing Education Krems, Prof Viktoria Weber, welcomed the committee on behalf of the university's rectorate.

Financial hardship situation

With regard to the financial situation the Austrian universities face, the SVK urgently warns against the looming budgetary crisis and demands that the additional costs of 1.2 billion Euros, as documented by the universities, be made available. On the subject of financing universities, Gößnitzer, as a member of the SVK spokesperson team, advocated for renegotiations in the run-up to the meeting she chaired on 24 October, otherwise, the negative effects will be discernible for years, says Gößnitzer. Apart from solid university funding, she said, universities are those entities where the great challenges of the day are addressed. "This is highly relevant, to see the societal responsibility and performance that is taken on here."

Furthermore, Gößnitzer called for young researchers to be given more responsibility in order to strengthen domestic universities and Austria as a research location. " This group should be given the opportunity to lead their own research groups at an early stage," she recommends. "The 'faculty model' should be strengthened, as well as tenure-track according to §99 [5] UG. It enables freedom in research, which Nobel Prize winner Prof Anton Zeilinger recently emphasized as essential for achieving excellent scientific performance," says Gößnitzer.

Regarding the senates, Gößnitzer said she would like to see more of an eye-to-eye approach among the Rectorate, the University Council and the Senate. “In its role to represent all members of the university, the senate is closest to research and teaching and should be more clearly perceived as a governing body in its design."

About the Senate Chairs Conference

The Conference of Senate Chairs of Austrian Universities (SVK) is a voluntary body comprising all senates of the currently 22 Austrian universities. Members of the SVK are the chairpersons of the senates of the public universities according to UG 2002 and their deputies. The committee's goal is to strengthen the universities' position as the most important research and educational institutions in Austria in the awareness of political actors and the general public. For this purpose, ideas and experiences are regularly exchanged, joint positions are formulated, among other things, in statements on draft legislation and represented externally. The activities of the SVK are based on the tasks of the senates as elected representative bodies of all university members as defined in the UG 2002, the freedom of science, teaching and development and the development of the arts, the autonomy of the university as well as the goal of maintaining and expanding the high quality of the university's services.

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