On the occasion of the start of the semester, the ÖH presents a 3-point plan for fair universities.
Under the motto “Universities for students”, the Austrian Student Union is starting the new semester with a 3-point plan for fair universities. In their first joint press conference, the presidency team presents solutions for the most pressing problems in everyday student life and sees a clear need to catch up in the areas of university financing, studyability and social justice.
“It is no secret that universities are chronically underfunded. Last year, TU Vienna even had to close temporarily due to inflation and high energy costs. This is not a state of affairs that we want to or can accept. Who saves at the education, saves us the future away!”, explains Nina Mathies from the ÖH chair team. There are still 525 million euros missing in the university budget for the year 2024 alone. But also the FH financing and development plan presented in the spring leaves much to be desired despite revision. “Instead of funding all universities, they are forced to compete even more with each other. If the first priority of an educational institution is its competition and no longer its students, then you are destroying our education system,” Matthies notes.
However, in order to relieve students in their everyday lives and to create justice at universities, more than monetary means are needed. Student teachers in particular are feeling the pinch. “A reform of the teaching profession is urgently needed!” demands Sarah Rossmann from the ÖH chair team, herself a student teacher. “It can’t be that student teachers get less ECTS for the same course than other students who attend it.” The ÖH also sees a need to catch up in the area of climate protection. “A course of study educates us for the future and must therefore also deal with the climate crisis and its consequences. Especially with regard to the last heat months, we as ÖH therefore demand: Climate protection must also flow into the curricula at the universities,” emphasizes Sarah Rossmann.
At the start of the semester, studying remains only a dream for many, since social selection is anchored in the education system from the ground up. Austria is far from having free and open access to higher education. “There is a lot to be done in terms of education policy, but in order to make studying possible for everyone, additional measures are needed – especially in the social sector. Therefore, we as ÖH demand a freeze on rents, a student grant that is sufficient to live on and affordable mobility for all students,” says Simon Neuhold from the chairmanship team. According to the Student Social Survey 2019, two thirds of students live below the poverty line. In order to relieve students, the ÖH sees in particular the omission of tuition fees for EEA and non-EEA students as necessary. “Tuition fees force many students to discontinue their studies because they simply can no longer afford their education. This is completely unacceptable!”, criticizes Neuhold.
Education for all is only possible with a strong ÖH as a representation of interests. The ÖH chairmanship team therefore concludes by emphasizing the importance of the ÖH and appeals to the government: “We have ideas and the drive to make studying a reality for everyone. It now takes the political will of the government and especially the Ministry of Science to work together to implement our demands.”