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Austrian Universities: funding for new projects – tender for digital and social transformation

austria Digital and Social Transformation in Higher Education

In the course of the call for tender, "Digital and Social Transformation in Higher Education", which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung - BMBWF), all Austrian public universities and various other educational institutions were able to apply and submit their project ideas. The offered funding was set high with 50 million euros in total, until 2024.

35 projects were approved, the Vienna University (VU) will be part of 14. 

On 20 January 2020, the Minister of Education, Science and Research, Heinz Faßmann, presented the accepted projects. At this presentation, he highlighted seven projects that facilitate digital or social transformation.

The Power Point slides of the presentations shown at the event are available for download (only in German).
In the past, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) has worked on the expansion or further development of information technology and its infrastructure in all university-related areas. In particular the use of digital media in the form of blended learning and e-learning, but also the (free) accessibility of research data and research results (open data and open access) at public universities.

This recent call for tender is explicitly focusing on structure-changing, new and creative digitisation projects in universities with the goal to enable universities to adapt to modern social structures.
The aim was to support projects that have the potential to increase innovation, capability and efficacy of the universities and higher education system in the digital age.
Furthermore, the aspiration for structural change was also an important objective. So, the alliance of multiple universities, as well as other educational institutions forming cooperations and clusters was another important selection criterion in this call for proposals.

The three main topics of the projects are:

  • Research Data Management and Open Access,
  • digital teaching innovation,
  • e-administration.

In the field of Research Data Management (RDM) and Open Science, the five projects below offer researchers support in planning, collecting, acquisitioning, sharing, analysing and/ interpreting of data as well as ensuring fair access and final archiving.

  • Austrian Transition to Open Access 2 (AT2OA²): in which the VU has the lead, is one of the projects with such trajectory. It is the follow up project to "Austrian Transition to Open Access" that ended in December 2019. The goal is to advance the transition from closed to open access for scientific publications. The working packages include a National Data Hub, which prepares publication data for use in an Austria-wide OA monitoring. It also involves negotiations with scientific publishers, as such agreements enable cost-effective OA publishing. In addition, an awareness-raising campaign on predatory publishing will be developed and alternative metrics will be used to examine whether OA increases the visibility of scientific publications.
  • The VU-lead project Open Education Austria Advanced falls within the field of "digital innovation in teaching": Here, the aim is to create free access to learning resources in order to make them nationally and internationally accessible, thus also increasing the visibility of university teaching. That is how the participating universities facilitate the transfer of knowledge from the university to other educational institutions as well as to the public. More specifically, this project is the basis for high-quality Open Educational Resources (OER), which are accessible to teachers, students and interested parties. The participating universities are developing a concept to establish OER and Open Educational Practices at Austrian universities. This concept includes services for lecturers to foster the development of OER, including a concept for further education, a national OER certification body and the development of technical infrastructure.
  • Another outstanding project in the area of Open Education is Image+ Platform for Open Art Education. It is an Austrian image (research) platform for the improvement of teaching quality. It will support (art) teachers as well as research institutions and artists. The goal is to offer a wide-ranging stock of high-quality digital image reproductions of artistic works, which are enriched with quality metadata and scientifically verified data. Three art universities (Linz, Salzburg and Vienna), the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the documentation platform of Austrian art "basis wien" are involved in this project. This should establish a best-practice model for cooperation among institutions in the art world – especially with archives, museums and documentation platforms.
  • FAIR Data Austria is a part of the project-cluster "Research Data", together with the projects "Austrian DataLab and Services" and "RIS Synergy", with which it collaborates. The project "FAIR Data Austria", with VU's involvement is determined to contribute to strengthening the exchange of knowledge among universities, economy and society. It wants to ensure the traceability and reusability of research data and also support the sustainable implementation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The application of the FAIR principles plays an important role here. Compliance with it is ensured through (1) integrated RDM, which focuses on discipline-specific and generic needs of the research groups, (2) the design and development of next-generation repositories for research data, code and other research outcomes and (3) through the development of training and support services for an efficient research data management.
  • The project RIS Synergy, where VU is also participating in, has the goal to increase data quality, transparency, security as well as effectiveness and quality support for research projects. This is achieved by helping to reduce any unnecessary work steps as well as the risk of errors due to double entries. This project focusses on digital transformation in research on the grounds of two subprojects: The first is about the open access and exchange possibilities for systems of funding bodies, research institutes and public administration ("Interfaces and Standards"). Its focus lies indata collection according to the "once-only-principle" and the exchange of information in support programmes, organisational structures, data from e-Call systems, data management plans and metadata of research outputs. The other subproject ("Concept-Study Research Portal"), deals with framework conditions and requirements of an internationally connectable research portal with the goal of portraying the inputs and outputs of the research landscape and of developing innovative networking opportunities for research, politics, business and the interested public.

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27 Sep 2021

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