The University Council represents the owners. It is similar to the supervisory board that you might find in a limited company. Its duties are governed by § 21 of the Austrian Universities Act 2002 (UG). The University Council acts on the basis of its rules of procedure. It has seven members. Sittings are usually held every quarter. You can contact the University Council via its office.
The University Council’s duties are governed by § 21 of the Austrian Universities Act 2002 (UG):
(1) The university council shall have the following duties:
- approving the development plan, the organisation plan, the draft performance agreement and the draft development agreement as well as the rules of procedure of the rectorate;
- advertising the post of the rector eight months prior to the expected availability of the post at the latest or within three months after dismissal or resignation;
- enacting regulations for the election of the rector after receiving the senate’s opinion thereon, which shall be submitted within four weeks upon receipt;
- electing the rector from a shortlist of three candidates nominated by the senate within four weeks upon receipt of the shortlist;
- electing the vice-rectors on the basis of nominations made by the rector after receiving the senate’s opinion thereon;
- concluding the performance agreements with the rector and the rectorate;
6a. concluding the service agreements with the rector and the vice-rectors;
- dismissing the rector and the vice-rectors;
- nominating one female and one male member of the arbitration board;
- approving the establishment of companies and foundations as well as shareholding in companies;
- approving the guidelines for financial management, the financial statements and the intellectual capital report of the rectorate and forwarding the same to the Federal Minister;
- appointing an auditor to audit the financial statements of the university;
- approving the assumption of non-current liabilities, and empowering the rectorate to assume such liabilities up to a certain limit without seeking the prior approval of the university council;
- reporting to the Federal Minister annually and reporting to the Federal Minister without delay in case of serious breaches of the law by university governing bodies or the danger of serious financial loss; the annual report shall contain a report on the measures taken by the working group on equal opportunities in connection with the gender-balanced composition of collegial bodies at universities (according to § 11 para. 2 subpara. 3 of the Federal Equal Treatment Act, Federal Law Gazette no. 100/1993) and, where applicable, an explanatory statement on the noncompliance with this provision and a report on the measures planned by the university for the implementation of this provision; the annual report shall be forwarded to the senate;
- approving the proposed budget within four weeks upon receipt from the rectorate; if the university council refuses acceptance within four weeks upon receipt, the rectorate shall submit a new proposal without delay; if the university council fails to accept it within the period stipulated, the proposed budget shall be deemed to be approved;
- preparing an opinion on the performance agreement prior to its conclusion by the rector within three weeks;
- enacting rules of procedure for the university council.
(2) The university council or at least two members of the university council together shall be entitled to request information on all and any matters concerning the university. The statement shall be forwarded to the university council and shall be dealt with in the next meeting of the university council. The university governing bodies shall be obliged to provide the university council with all relevant information, to submit all documents relating to matters specified by it, to undertake investigations required by it, and to initiate investigations in situ.
(3) The university council shall consist of five, seven or nine members, who shall be past or present holders of responsible positions, especially in academic, cultural or business life, and whose exceptional knowledge and experience are such as to enable them to contribute to the attainment of the objectives and the fulfilment of the tasks of the university. Any change in the size of the university council shall be for resolution of the senate and shall require a two-thirds majority.
(4) Members of the federal government, members of a provincial government, members of the National Council, the Federal Council or any other popular representative body, and officers of political parties or persons who have exercised such functions within the past four years shall be excluded from membership in the university council.
(5) Members of the university council shall not be members of the university in the meaning of § 125, 132 and 133, employees of the university or employees of the federal ministry in charge of higher education. Membership of more than one university council shall not be permissible. Business relations between a member of the university council and the university shall be subject to approval by the university council, which may only be given in the absence of a conflict of interest. The members shall report possible conflicts of interest immediately to the university council.
(6) The membership of the university council shall, pursuant to para. 3, comprise five, seven or nine members, namely:
- two, three or four members elected by the senate;
- two, three or four members appointed by the federal government on the recommendation of the Federal Minister;
- an additional member appointed by the members named in para. 6 subparas. 1 and 2 by mutual agreement.
The senate and the federal government shall each appoint equal numbers of members. The appointment of the members under para. 6 subpara. 2 shall take place after that of the members under para. 6 subpara. 1
(6a) Both the senate and the federal government shall apply § 11 para. 2 subpara. 3 of the Austrian Federal Equal Treatment Act accordingly when selecting or appointing members of the university council. The university council shall therefore consist of at least 40% women. In the event of non-compliance with the required quota of women, the working group on equal opportunities may object to the unfair composition by 31 March of the year in question.
(7) In case that by 30 April of the respective year no additional member under para. 6 subpara. 3 has been appointed by mutual agreement, the Federal Minister shall grant a reasonable extension. In case that this passes without result, such member of the university council shall be selected by the senate from a shortlist of three candidates prepared by the presiding committee of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The presiding committee of the Austrian Academy of Sciences shall submit the shortlist of three candidates within one month after the Federal Minister has dealt with the matter.
(8) The members' term of office shall be five years and shall commence on 1 March of the respective year. The invitation to the first meeting of the university council shall be extended by the chairperson of the previous term of office or, if need be, by the rector. The university council shall constitute itself without delay and appoint the additional members (para. 6 subpara. 3) by 30 April of the respective year. The election of the chairperson shall take place by 30 April of the respective year. Re-election or reappointment of a member is permissible, provided that the term of office does not exceed ten years in total. In the case of the premature termination of the service of a member of the university council, a replacement member shall be elected or appointed in the same manner as the departing member for the remainder of his/her term of office.
(9) The chairperson of the university council shall be elected by the council from among its members by a simple majority of the votes cast.
(10) The members of the university council shall be obliged to fulfil their tasks with due care.
(11) The members of the university council shall receive compensation for the time and effort dedicated to their activities in an amount to be determined by the university council. The compensation shall be published in the university gazette.
(12) The university council shall have a quorum when at least half of the number of members stipulated under para. 3 are present. Voting by proxy is impermissible. The university council shall resolve by simple majority, except insofar as this Act provides otherwise. This shall also apply if one member or several members terminate their membership prematurely or the new member or the new members have not been elected or appointed or the additional member has not been appointed yet.
(13) Membership of the university council may be terminated by:
- expiry of the term of office;
- expiry of the ten-year term of office.
(14) The Federal Minister may, by order, dismiss a member of the university council because of severe misconduct, conviction of a criminal offence, or mental incapacity or health impairment. Such dismissal shall be subject to consonant resolutions of the senate and rectorate, in both cases requiring a two-thirds majority.
(15) The rectorate, the chairperson of the senate, the chairperson of the working group on equal opportunities and the chairperson of the Austrian National Union of Students at the university in question shall be entitled to a hearing on agenda items relating to their functions at meetings of the university council. The chairpersons of the two employees’ councils under § 135 para. 3 shall be invited to all meetings of the university council and shall be entitled to participate in the meetings, to file an application for all agenda items, and to request any additional items to be added to the agenda that are directly related to their duties as employees’ councils under the Labour Relations Act, Federal Law Gazette no. 22/1974, and that fall within the responsibility of the university council. They shall have the right to vote on these items, but decisions on them shall be subject to a two-thirds majority vote of the members present. The chairpersons of the two employees’ councils shall receive a copy of the minutes of the meetings of the university council without delay.