Petition: Austria´s Scientific Landscape in Jeopardy. A decision that can affect the Institute for Byzantine Studies in Vienna

An appeal from Christian Balluch from Vienna, Austria

The Performance Agreement between the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which was signed
on the 4th November 2011 paves the way for the factual budget reduction of the largest and most eminent non-university research establishment in
the country. The annual budget discrepancy of approx. 10–16 Mio. Euro, as part of the total budget of 74 Mio. Euro per year is leading to the threat
of loss or closure of internationally acclaimed, and demonstrably excellent research organizations. In the words of the Academy Director of Finances
the measures could lead to the loss of at least 300 self-financed, full-time equivalent staff members between 2012 and 2014.

There is even the risk, that up to 300 out of the Academy’s 789 self-financed full-time equivalent scientific employees (905 including admin. staff)
are threatened by these financial straits. Such drastic employee cuts are unprecedented in Austrian history since 1945. The current economic climate
does not serve to justify this severity, and cuts on this scale have not been made in any other areas. Since third-party funding totaling approx. 22 Mio.
Euro was acquired by employees, who now stand to lose their jobs, further negative impacts are foreseeable. When project managers are made redundant and their projects are brought to a close, this will automatically lead to the loss of other project support staff. This amounts to a sustainable destruction of knowledge and infrastructure. The level of scientific excellence and the international competitiveness of Austrian scientific research are endangered.

Basic research is an important contribution to the material and intellectual prosperity and future potential of our society. These measures are therefore
seriously threatening Austria’s scientific landscape and will correspondingly do serious economic harm.
Justification: The undersigned appeal to the responsible politicians to finally implement the numerous declarations in which they hailed scientific research as key to the successful development of our country. It is their responsibility to secure the long-term financing and development of scientific
research in Austria. We are turning to the media and general public in the hope of drawing public attention to the dramatic scientific, economic and
societal consequences, which lay upon us and to prevent the alarming demise of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.



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