Overcrowding crisis in Austria

November 19, 2004

Austria's universities are facing the worst overcrowding problems in the country's history.

School pupils who make the grade are entitled to a university place. But overcrowding is so bad that many students are threatening legal action over being made to wait for places on courses and then often not being able to get into packed lecture halls.

Josef Aigner, head of Innsbruck University's Institute for Pedagogics, said he had 15 professors for 1,700 students. "Each tutor has about 50 dissertation students and is still expected to carry out their regular lectures," Professor Aigner said.

Kerstin Gross, student representative at Vienna University's journalism faculty, which is one of the worst affected in the country, said: "None of the students has received supervision for their theses since the start of the semester."

Some students are considering legal action against their universities as they continue to pay fees without getting tuition.

Josef Broukal, opposition spokesman for science, criticised Education Minister Elisabeth Gehrer's inability to secure more funds for education from Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser.

Ms Gehrer is also under fire for a decision to provide €500,000 (£350,000) in Erasmus scholarships when universities are begging for additional funding.

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