The legal foundations for the appointment of management staff at universities, universities of applied sciences (UAS) and university colleges of teacher education (PH) are provided in the Universities Act 2002 (UG), the Universities of Applied Sciences Study Act (FHG) and the Act on Organisation of University Colleges of Teacher Education 2005 (HG). There are no regulations on the appointment of management staff laid down in the Private Higher Education Act (PrivHG). Corresponding regulations are within the field of institutional autonomy and are examined in the accreditation process of private higher education institutions.
Requirements for appointment
According to the Universities Act 2002 (UG), the university council (Universitätsrat), the rectorate (Rektorat) and the rector (Rektor/in) as well as the senate (Senat) are entrusted with the management at Austrian universities.
The university council (cf. § 21 UG) consists of either five, seven or nine members. The size is determined by the founding convention of a university, changes can be decided by the senate with a two-thirds majority. All but one members are appointed in equal parts by the university and the federal government. The last member is appointed by the members of the university council themselves. According to UG the council members should hold positions of responsibility in society, particularly in science, culture or business, and should be able to contribute to the achievement of the university's goals and tasks based on their excellent knowledge and experience. The term of office of the university council is five years. A single re-election of individual members is permitted.
The tasks of a university council are also defined by law and include:
- approval of the development plan, the organisation plan, the draft performance agreement and the rules of procedure of the rectorate (in each case on the proposal of the rectorate),
- election of the rector on the proposal of the senate and conclusion of the employment contract with him/her,
- election of the vice-rectors on the proposal of the rector,
- approval of the establishment of companies and foundations (on the proposal of the rectorate).
The rectorate (cf. § 22 UG), which consists of the rector and up to four vice-rectors, is responsible for the operational management of the university and represents it externally. Stipulated by law, its tasks include, among others, the
- preparation of a draft of the statutes for submission to the senate,
- creation of a university development plan for submission to the senate and the university council,
- creation of an organisational plan of the university for submission to the senate and the university council,
- creation of a draft of the performance agreement for submission to the university council,
- appointment and dismissal of the heads of organisational units,
- conclusion of target agreements with the heads of the organisational units,
- admission of students,
- organisation of evaluations and the publication of evaluation results,
- granting of a teaching license (venia docendi).
The rector (cf. § 23 UG) is elected by the university council from a list of three proposed by the senate for a term of four years. Only a person with international experience, knowledge of the Austrian and European university system as well as the ability to organise and manage a university can be elected as rector. The rector
- is the chairperson and spokesperson for the rectorate,
- heads the office of the university,
- negotiates and concludes performance agreements with the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research,
- prepares proposals for the election of the vice rectors,
- appoints university professors upon the proposal of an appointment committee,
- concludes service contracts with university staff and
- is the head of the entire university staff.
The senate (cf. § 25 UG) of a university comprises eighteen or twenty-six members. It includes representatives of the university professors, the general university staff and students. The main tasks of the senate are to
- approve of the draft of the development plan and the organisational plan drawn up by the rectorate,
- appoint collegiate bodies with and without decision-making authority,
- elect one half of the members of the university council,
- adopt the curricula proposed by the curriculum committees,
- participate in appointment and habilitation procedures,
- submit expert opinions to the rectorate on the guidelines for the structural design of curricula,
- define academic degrees and titles for graduates of university courses.
Universities of applied sciences (UAS) (Fachhochschulen, FH)
At each UAS a board (Kollegium, § 10 FHG) is to be set up to implement and organise all teaching and examinations. This board meets at least twice a year. In addition to the head of the board and his/her deputy, it consists of six representatives of the heads of the study programmes offered, six representatives of the teaching and research staff and four representatives of the students.
According to the UAS Act, the FH board
- elects a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from a three-candidate shortlist submitted by the providing entity,
- modifying the accredited degree programmes in consultation with the provider,
- applies for budget funds to the provider,
- submits proposals for the recruitment of teaching staff,
- co-ordinates the contents of teaching and examinations,
- assuring the quality of teaching and research as well as evaluating all teaching, including examination regulations and curricula,
- adopting rules of procedure and a statute in consultation with the provide.
University colleges of teacher education (Pädagogische Hochschulen, PH)
The administrative bodies of the university colleges of teacher education are the university college council (Hochschulrat), the rectorate, the rector and the university college collegiate board (Hochschulkollegium).
The university college council (cf. § 12 HG) consists of five members who have been or are active in responsible positions in society, in particular in education, (vocational) training and science and who, thanks to their excellent knowledge and experience, contribute to the achievement of the goals and tasks of the PH. Its tasks include, among others:
- announcement of the position of the rector and vice-rector as well as implementation of the selection process and preparation of a ranking proposal for all applicants for appointment by the responsible member of the government,
- advising the rectorate on essential strategic matters of university development,
- submission of expert opinions on draft curricula,
- resolution on the draft of the organisational plan and arranging for the submission to be made to the responsible member of the government,
- approval of the statutes and the rules of procedure of the university council.
The rectorate (cf. § 15 HG), consisting of the rector and the two vice rectors, is the governing body of the PH. Its areas of responsibility include the
- drafting of the strategic guidelines of the PH,
- organisational plan, the target and performance plan,
- appointment of staff,
- admission of students,
- planning of the resources,
- internal budget allocation and the
- initiation of evaluations.
The rector (§ 13 HG) chairs the rectorate. S/he heads the PH, is the superior of the teaching and administrative staff, represents it externally and coordinates the activities of the PH's organs. The person appointed as rector must be a teacher at a PH who can manage the organisational and economic aspects of the PH, has several years of experience in teaching and in international educational cooperation or a person from outside a PH who has equivalent skills.
The university college collegiate board (§ 17 HG) is a democratically elected collegiate body in which all groups of people working at a PH (teachers, students and administrative staff) are represented. It consists of eleven members, that is, six representatives of the teaching staff, three representatives of the student body and two representatives of the administrative staff. Among other tasks, the collegiate board
- submits expert opinions on issues relating to the development of internal organization and communication (organisational plan, statutes),
- submits expert opinion in the context of the selection process for the appointment of the rector and the vice-rectors
- submits expert opinions on the dismissal of the rector or the vice-rector,
- issues the curriculum and the examination regulations,
- provides expertise on educational issues and quality assurance measures.
Conditions of service
As all higher education institutions are responsible for internal management, there are no common provisions for managerial working contracts. They are determined by the institutions themselves: The necessary differentiations between the various employment categories are made by the collective agreement which was agreed between the umbrella organisation of the universities and the civil servants' trade union. [More]