The picture to the left is the hallway of the main building of the University of Vienna. Although it doesn’t look like it, it is the hallway of a ‘worldclass’ university. At least, that’s what the government wants us to believe. ‘Freed’ into autonomy at the beginning of 2004, the universities in Austria are now fighting a battle which can’t be won: Against the fact that there’s not enough money.
Institutes for various faculties and branches don’t have enough money to pay their lecturers. There’s not enough money to rent or buy enough space. There are not enough professors to mentor thesis-papers. There’s not enough money to offer enough classes and courses for everyone, often resulting in the loss of a whole semester or even a year.
The list could go on and on and on. Still, government denies responsibility, stating that the universities have enough money, they just don’t know how to sensibly use it. Federal Minister for Education Gehrer, who used to be a crafts-teacher at a primary school before going into politics, obviously is a lot more knowledgable regarding money than, for example the rector of the U of Vienna, with years of experience at economic departments all over the world.
With an already desastrous number of academic graduates, Austrian government does nothing to improve the situation. Instead, there’s talk to establish so-called ‘elite-universities’, which should receive extra funding and have strict admission rules. This is so much of a stupid idea, and another sure sign the government has lost it’s already not exactly firm grip on reality, that commenting on it would be futile.