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Graz rector to be Austria’s next science minister

Image: BMBWF, Martin Lusser

Martin Polaschek will take over from Heinz Faßmann, who announced his resignation last week

The University of Graz has confirmed media reports that its rector Martin Polaschek has been appointed as the next minister of education in the Austrian government, following the resignation of Heinz Faßmann (pictured).

“The government reshuffle has immediate effects on the University of Graz,” the university said on 3 December, when Faßmann resigned. “Rector Martin Polaschek is moving to Vienna as the new minister of education. His deputy Peter Riedler, who has been vice-rector for many years, will take over the management of the university on an interim basis.”

Polaschek has been rector at Graz since 2019, before which he was vice-rector for studies and teaching. He remained active in research during his stint as rector, in the field of post-war justice and law.

Faßmann’s resignation was the latest in a series from the very highest levels of government in recent days, beginning with that of Sebastian Kurz from the chancellorship. Kurz has stepped away from politics altogether amid allegations of corruption, which he denies.

‘A man who knows the research landscape’

Austrian Science Fund president Christof Gattringer and commercial vice-president Ursula Jakubek released a statement thanking Faßmann for his work and saying there had been a “high level of trust [and] mutual appreciation [that] meant we were able to implement a lot together in a short time”.

They also congratulated Polaschek on his new role, saying he was “a man who knows the research landscape in Austria”. According to Gattringer and Jakubek, Polaschek will, like his predecessor, be responsible for research and science as well as education.

Faßmann was quoted in the media as saying the Covid-19 pandemic had “cost us all a lot of energy”. He reportedly added: “I wish my successor a lot of strength. He will need it.”