June 16th 2023

Enable doctoral studies in the sector of Universities of Applied Sciences!

State Governors' Conference makes demands to the Federal Government

©MCI / Kasper
For years, the absence of doctoral programs at Universities of Applied Sciences has been a significant bottleneck for the science, technology, innovation, and economic location. ©MCI / Kasper

The state governors of the Austrian states discussed the future of Austria's science and business location in their meeting on June 7, 2023, and are demanding high-performance framework conditions for the University of Applied Sciences sector.

MCI | The Entrepreneurial School® in Innsbruck welcomes the unanimously adopted resolution, introduced by Tyrol's Governor Anton Mattle and supported by all states. The Federal Government is being urged to enable research-oriented Universities of Applied Sciences to establish doctoral programs. This request is fully supported for several reasons:

  • Universities of Applied Sciences institutions are the primary partners for industries when it comes to applied research projects and the development or optimization of technologies, processes, products, or business models. These research projects provide excellent opportunities for ambitious young individuals who wish to deepen their knowledge in research and development through doctoral studies established at Universities of Applied Sciences institutions and engage in scientifically relevant topics.

  • The absence of doctoral programs at Universities of Applied Sciences has been a significant bottleneck for the science, technology, innovation, and economic location for years. It impedes research contributions, research competence in industries and innovative SMEs and their long-term competitiveness.

  • Different types of higher education institutions, such as private universities, have always had the right to offer doctoral programs. The current legislation clearly disadvantages the University of Applied Sciences sector. This disparity needs to be addressed.

  • Germany (including the bordering states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) established a modern doctoral right for Universities of Applied Sciences. In addition, they created numerous attractive research positions for doctoral candidates and young researchers with a Ph.D. In order to compete in this international location competition and unlock exciting development opportunities for young people in Austria, doctoral programs at Universities of Applied Sciences are essential.

  • Through a competitive process, four Austrian institutions (MCI, FH St. Pölten, FH Vorarlberg, FH Joanneum) have gotten the opporunity by the European Commission to establish a "European University" in order to contribute to the creation of internationally relevant and influential academic beacons, based on their quality, dynamics, and innovation. A part of this program involves the development and implementation of European joint, double, and multiple-degree programs at bachelor's, master's, and especially doctoral levels. However, due to the current legislation, Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences are excluded from this important aspect of the program as they lack the right to grant doctoral degrees. It is crucial to reverse the associated brain drain by transforming it into a brain gain, attracting the best minds to Austria instead of losing them to other countries.

Tyrol’s Governor Anton Mattle: “Tyrol is a remarkable and successful location for higher education. Our universities and Universities of Applied Sciences have a good reputation beyond the borders of Tyrol and are essential partners for our economy and industry. However, standing still means taking a step back. Therefore, it is important for me to support the development of our higher education sector. This includes continuously improving the framework conditions for our successful Universities of Applied Sciences and enabling doctoral studies at these institutions as well. I am pleased to have the support from other states and urge the Federal Government to take action!”

Head of Research & Technology Transfer at MCI Michael Kraxner: “The absence of the right to confer doctoral degrees has been a severe disadvantage for Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences for almost 30 years. As an institution dedicated to applied research, we receive numerous research and innovation inquiries from domestic and international industries, which we can finally address adequately and sustainably through the right to confer doctoral degrees. This strengthens Austria's position in science and the economy in international competition and counteracts the emigration of top domestic talents abroad, who are essential for generating future-relevant expertise.”

MCI Rector Andreas Altmann: “Germany and the European Commission have recognized the sign of the times. After several states, the neighboring states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, with a combined population of 25 million(!) and immense economic power, have now introduced an attractive right to confer doctoral degrees for Universities of Applied Sciences. Furthermore, in the coming years, billions of euros will be invested in the higher education sector in those regions (e.g., 'Hightech Agenda Bayern'). It is crucial not to lose ground and to strengthen our domestic position in order to stay competitive.”


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FH-Prof. Dr. Michael Kraxner
+43 664 922 9905

Hon.-Prof. FH-Prof. Dr. Andreas Altmann
+43 664 311 8736

Fabian Muigg, BA
Press, Governor Anton Mattle
+43 512 508 2018