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Austria creates its own ‘elite university’ in Gugging

The creation of "world-class universities" is all the craze these days. Germany is implementing its Exzellenzinitiative and the EU Commission is pushing plans for a European Institute of Technology (see European Policy section). Austria will create a top-notch institution, too.

The new university, with the provisional name "Institute of Technology Austria", is going to be a postgraduate-level institution, with an interdisciplinary research focus in the natural sciences and technology. The total cost in the first ten years is scheduled at 535 million EUR, of which 40 percent are to come from the Union’s Research Framework Programme and about one third from sponsors. The university is to start operations this autumn. Teaching will start a year later.

The decision earlier this month to locate the university in Gugging, in the state of Lower Austria, has drawn considerable criticism. Apparently, two feasibility studies commissioned by the government had come out in favour of Vienna. Vienna had also been the preferred choice of a number of top scientists, who had been involved in the original planning and now announced their withdrawal from the project. The rural Gugging cannot be reached easily and does not have a train station.

Cordis News Service