University Act 2002

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Basic data
Title: University Act 2002
Long title: Federal law on the organization of universities and their studies
Abbreviation: Basement
Type: Federal law
Scope: Republic of Austria
Legal matter: Public law
Reference: BGBl. I No. 120/2002
Date of law: August 9, 2002
Effective date: October 1, 2002 and January 1, 2004
Last change: BGBl. I No. 3/2019
Please note the note on the applicable legal version !

The Universities Act 2002 (UG) is an Austrian federal act with which wide areas of Austrian university law have been reorganized. In organizational terms, it replaced the UOG 1993 and the Art University Organization Act (KUOG), and in terms of study law, it replaced the University Studies Act (UniStG). It was announced in Federal Law Gazette I No. 120/2002. The majority of the provisions came into force on October 1, 2002, the study law part on January 1, 2004.

The universities are now legal entities under public law with full legal capacity (§ 4 UG), before that the universities were defined as dependent institutions with only partial legal capacity (§§ 2ff UOG 1993 and 2ff KUOG). The federal government is obliged to provide funding (Section 12 UG), it concludes performance agreements with the universities (Sections 13 and 13a UG) and is a supervisory body (Sections 9 and 45 UG).

In addition, three new universities were established with the UG, these emerged from the former medical faculties : the Medical University of Vienna , the Medical University of Graz and the Medical University of Innsbruck .

On October 1st, 2009 (University Law Amendment Act 2009, Federal Law Gazette I No. 81/2009) the law was officially abbreviated as UG . Previously, UG 2002 was mostly used as an unofficial abbreviation .

Organizational law

The respective university has to regulate its internal organization autonomously, namely the organizational structure - in particular the structure of the organizational units - by means of an organizational plan (Section 20 (4) UG); the process organization can be regulated by a statute (§ 19 UG).

The UG only prescribes a few organs with decision-making powers, mainly the four highest organs of the university (Section 20 (1) UG):

  • University Council (strategic level)
  • Rectorate (operational level)
  • Rector (Head of the Rectorate)
  • Senate (focus on teaching)

In addition, there are other bodies with decision-making authority, for example a monocratic body responsible for study matters in the first instance (the name of which varies from university to university, e.g. at the University of Vienna "Studienpräses"; tasks are, for example, awarding academic degrees or the decision on the recognition of academic achievements).

University Council

The University Council (§ 21 UG) is a supervisory and steering body newly created in this form by the UG. Among other things, it is responsible for approving the development plan and the organizational plan, it elects the rector from a list of three proposed by the Senate, and it approves matters relating to management.

The university council has five, seven or nine members, the size of which is decided by the senate. Two, three or four members are elected by the Senate and the same number by the federal government. The persons appointed in this way then elect the fifth, seventh or ninth member. The University Council elects its chairman from among its members. The term of office of the members is five years.

Members of the university council should be drawn to deserving individuals from science, culture and business, although membership in more than one university council is prohibited. Members of the university in question, employees of the BMWF and certain political functionaries are excluded from membership of the university council.


The rectorate (§ 22 UG) is the central management body of the university and represents it externally. The responsibilities include, among other things, the creation of the development plan and the organizational plan, the appointment of the heads of the organizational units, the granting of teaching authorizations , the establishment and discontinuation of studies , the preparation of the budget proposal, the financial statement and the intellectual capital statement and the rejection of decisions by other university bodies Illegality.

Members of the rectorate are the rector and the vice rectors. The distribution of tasks within the rectorate is to be regulated by rules of procedure. To be appointed as a member of the rectorate, it is not necessary to belong to the university concerned beforehand.


The rector (§ 23 UG) is the chairman and spokesman for the rectorate, he concludes the performance agreement with the science minister, he is the superior of the entire university staff and he concludes the employment contracts. The rector's term of office is four years.

The Rector is elected by the University Council from a trio of proposals by the Senate. For this purpose, the position of the rector is advertised publicly by the university council. A selection committee (§ 23a UG), which is made up of the chairmen of the university council and the senate, checks the applications received and actively searches for candidates itself, after which it makes a three-way proposal to the senate. This then creates the actual casting proposal. Any discrepancy between the Senate's triple proposal and that of the search committee must be justified.

In addition, there are two different options for re-election of the previous Rector (Section 23b UG):

  • If the Senate and the University Council each approve with a two-thirds majority, the incumbent rector will be re-elected upon request without an advertisement.
  • If the incumbent rector applies normally within the framework of the tendering process, he must be included in the selection committee's proposal.

The provisions on the search committee and the special re-election options for an incumbent rector were introduced by the 2009 University Law Amendment Act.

Vice Rectors

On the proposal of the rector, the university council appoints up to four vice rectors (§ 24 UG), whose term of office corresponds to that of the rector. The vice rectors are no longer bound by instructions to the rector (differently from § 54 Abs. 1 UOG 1993 and § 53 Abs. 1 KUOG).


The Senate (§ 25 UG) is the representative body of the four groups of university members ( professors , junior staff, students, general staff). Among other things, it participates in the issuing of the statutes, the organization plan and the development plan, the composition of the university council, the selection of rectors and the issuing or amendment of curricula. Furthermore, he appoints decision-making commissions for habilitation procedures and appointment procedures ( appointments to professorships). The Senate's term of office is three years.

Until the amendment to the University Law Amendment Act 2009, the Senates consisted of 12 to 24 members with the following composition:

  • Over 50% university professors.
  • At least 25% student representatives.
  • At least one senior representative.
  • At least one representative of the general university staff.

The new regulations change both the size and the composition:

  • There are only two sizes to choose from: 18 or 26 members.
  • The absolute majority of the professors are absent, they now send exactly 50%, namely nine or thirteen representatives.
  • The middle class members and the students now send the same number of representatives, namely four and six people each.
  • The general university staff sends a representative.

Working group for equality issues

The Working Group for Equal Treatment Issues (Section 42 UG) is responsible for non-discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, religion, worldview, age and sexual orientation. He can turn to the Arbitration Commission in suspected cases.

A forty percent quota for women has been in force for collegiate bodies (and also for senate nominations) since the University Law Amendment Act 2009, and a fifty percent quota has been in effect since 2015 (Federal Law Gazette I No. 21/2015). The working group for equal treatment issues raises the objection of incorrect composition in the event of non-compliance. The arbitration committee decides on the objection. In areas in which only a few women are active, the working group can dispense with the objection, as otherwise excessive committee work could lead to the detriment of these women’s academic careers.

Arbitration Commission

The Arbitration Commission (§ 43 UG) mediates in disputes between university members and decides on appeals to the working group for questions of equal treatment. It consists of six people, with the Senate, the University Council and the Working Group for Equal Opportunities each nominating a man and a woman. The members of the arbitration commission do not have to belong to the university concerned.

Study law

The UG is based on the three-part study structure of the so-called Bologna Process , so bachelor's degrees are planned as the basic level (Section 51 Paragraph 2 Numbers 2 and 4, Section 54 Paragraph 1–3 UG), the workload of which usually has exactly 180 ECTS credit points This corresponds to three academic years (in special exceptional cases, up to 240 ECTS points can be provided, i.e. four academic years).

Master’s courses are intended as a specialization level (Section 51, Paragraph 2, Numbers 2 and 5, Section 54, Paragraph 1–3 UG) with a workload of at least 120 ECTS points, i.e. two academic years. The doctoral studies (Section 51, Paragraph 2, Numbers 2 and 12, Section 54, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of the University Act), whose duration has been since the 2006 amendment to the UG (Federal Law Gazette I, No. 74), serve to "further develop the ability to do independent academic work" / 2006) at least three years, whereby the scope of doctoral studies is not specified in ECTS points.

In addition, previous diploma studies can be continued (Section 51 Paragraph 2 Numbers 2 and 3, Section 54 Paragraph 1 and 2 UG). However, since October 1, 2012, new courses may no longer be established as diploma courses (Section 143 (15) UG).

According to earlier legal situations (§§ 64 and 65c UniStG, § 85 UG old version) academic theses, i.e. diploma theses, master's or master's theses and dissertations (but not baccalaureate or bachelor theses) from a university course could also be recognized as theses for other courses . Since final theses are a central individual component of every degree, the recognition of dissertations was abolished with the 2006 amendment to the UG, and according to the 2009 University Law Amendment Act, applications for recognition of diploma and master's theses could only be submitted until the end of 2010 (§ 143 Section 19 UG).

Furthermore, Section 51 (1) UG stipulates that universities are active in enforcing the study regulations within the framework of sovereign administration .

Personnel law

Academic and general staff whose employment relationship began after December 31, 2003 are subject to the Salaried Employees Act (Section 108 UG). On October 1, 2009 the collective agreement for university employees came into force. Before this collective agreement came into force, parts of the Contract Employees Act were the content of the employment contracts.

Older employment relationships are subject to the Civil Service Service Act 1979 , the Salary Act 1956 and the Contract Servants Act 1948.

Every member of the university has the right to publish their own scientific or artistic work independently. However, the right to take up service inventions lies with the university ( Section 106 UG). Austria also does not (any longer) have a university professor's privilege.

The question of the legal status of candidates in university appointment procedures has led to intensive discussions inside and outside Austria. In the past, jurisprudence based on the 1993 UOG had developed a pronounced legal protection for candidates that corresponded to international standards.

The UG leaves the legal nature of the appeal procedure open. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly an administrative procedure, which, however, leads to a contract under private law. After years of negative conflict of jurisdiction between the ordinary courts and the courts of public law, the Austrian Constitutional Court (VfGH) assigned the relevant jurisdiction to the ordinary courts on June 13, 2017 (KI 1 / 2017-14). However, these still do not actually exercise this jurisdiction. For example, the Austrian Supreme Court ruled on September 27, 2018 (9 ObA 83 / 18y) and again with a resolution of November 28, 2019 (9 ObA 122 / 19k) that an applicant, the error in an appeal complains that there is no interest in legal protection in order to take legal action against the contract concluded by the university with another applicant, even if the deficiencies in the appeal procedure (in particular biases) are correct. There is no individual legal protection. According to this case law, there are no longer any competitor complaints in the context of university appointment procedures in Austria - unlike in neighboring countries. The possibility of a competitor lawsuit serves not only to protect individual legal rights, but also to ensure high quality appeals. The Austrian legal system would have to continue to meet these requirements.

The Austrian Ombudsman's Office for the Control of Public Administration and Compliance with Human Rights has independently confirmed and criticized this legal deficiency in the 2018 annual report published on April 24, 2019: There is no effective legal protection in university appointment procedures in Austria, i. H. “No possibility of bringing about an administrative or civil court review of defective appeal procedures.” This fact is both unconstitutional and EU law, because a discriminated applicant, insofar as it is a Union citizen, his right to freedom of movement according to Art. 45 TFEU with his application (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) . He has the right to an effective application and a legally correct procedure. The right to freedom of movement does confer individual rights. Biases violate the principle of good administration and their removal is therefore also required under Union law. The right to good administration is a general legal principle of Union law, cf. Art. 41 GRC (EU Charter of Fundamental Rights) . Union citizens who apply for a university professorship in Austria can refer to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (GRC) and thus have the right to an effective legal remedy in accordance with Art. 47 GRC . Since this is a directly applicable Union law, the Austrian courts would have to apply these rules immediately, although the obligation of the Republic of Austria to adapt university law to the requirements of Union law remains in effect.

As long as this adaptation to Union law does not take place, this EU law violation can be complained about via a submission to the ECJ (European Court of Justice) by means of a preliminary ruling procedure (highest courts are obliged to do so) or via an autonomous action by the EU Commission by way of infringement proceedings .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Benedikt Kommenda: University appointments: VfGH ensures legal protection for applicants who have been passed over. In: The press. July 9, 2017, accessed May 6, 2019 .
  2. VfGH decision of June 13, 2017, Gz. KI 1 / 2017-14, ECLI: AT: VFGH: 2017: KI1.2017.
  3. Supreme Court decision of September 27, 2018, Gz. 9 ObA 83 / 18y, ECLI: AT: OGH0002: 2018: 009OBA00083.18Y.0927.000.
  4. ^ OGH decision of November 28, 2019, Gz. 9 ObA 122 / 19k, ECLI: AT: OGH0002: 2019: 009OBA00122.19K.1128.000.
  5. Paolo Piva and Gilbert Gornig: University appointment procedures - a legal criticism. In: Wiener Zeitung. May 28, 2020, accessed May 29, 2020 .
  6. Annual report of the Ombudsman Board to the National Council and the Federal Council 2018: Control of the public administration, pp. 114–115.
  7. Gilbert Gornig and Paolo Piva: Freedom of movement of university teachers in the EU - the problem case Austria (=  European Journal for Business Law (EuZW) . Volume 31 , no. 11 ). CH Beck, June 16, 2020, ISSN  0937-7204 , p. 469-476 .