After the general elections last autumn, Austria very quickly formed a government - by its own standards, anyway.
The coalition government is made up of the Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP) and the Freiheitliche Partei (FPÖ), a right-wing populist party. Many predict or fear a rough ride ahead, with the FPÖ’s allegiance to strict democratic rules often in question.
The government is led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP), Europe’s youngest head of government. The minister of education and science is appropriately a university professor, with a serious track record in academic achievement. Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1955, Heinz Faßmann spent most of his personal and professional life in Austria and became an Austrian national in the 1980s. A human geographer by profession, he has worked for the Austrian Academy of Sciences, he held professorships at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Vienna. In the last six years, he was one of the Vice-Rectors of the University of Vienna.
We understand that the appointment also entails a redefinition of the ministry’s mandate. In earlier Austrian governments, school education and higher education and research had often had their own ministries. Under the last ‘grand-coalition’ government, higher education had simply been turned into a department of the Ministry for Economic Affairs.