Dual careers in Austria
Dual career couples in Austria

Bird Couple - Metaphor: Dual career Austria

© Jonathan Schöps / photocase.de

Recruiting outstanding academic staff is a top priority for universities and higher education institutions in Austria. There are additional challenges for families. This is a guide for dual career couples in Austria.

Published: 2019-01-26

By: Gerard Thompson

The idea of supporting dual careers is a relatively new approach within the Austrian academic world, and as such is still developing. Having said this, since the first organisation was created in 2010, development has been fast, bringing Austrian academic development into line with other countries in aspiring to equality amongst gender.

Dual career (DC) services in Austria have limited scope and mainly exist to support researchers, outstanding artists or administrative managers. There is a difference in target-oriented support between the groups.

Typically, a regional dual career service will offer the following:

  • Individual support for couples on tax matters, housing, family affairs
  • Extending the regional networking with Universities of Applied Sciences, colleges of education and companies
  • Broaden the spectrum of information for DC couples
  • One or two contact persons will be based at university – with month network meetings
  • There will be individualised services, such as information and support for job-seeking partners, identifying job possibilities, and establishing contact with colleagues or potential employers
  • Information will be provided for residencies, visa regulations and insurance
  • Close co-operation with family support services at university concerning nursery schooling, schools and residential homes for the elderly

It has been largely recognised within the Austrian university fraternity that a better sense of equality must be established. That is why in 2013, an initiative was set up under the Task Force Gender and Diversity of the Austrian Universities Conference (Österreichische Universitätenkonferenz). This saw the creation of the Dual Career Service Vienna.

As a result, the level of support and benefits varies, but female partners are generally targeted. However, all DC Service units support both partners. They are supported by approximately half of Austrian organisations in regard to researchers and scientists. This is mainly due to contract limitations and so they have less contact with DC staff. For example, DC advice at the Vienna University of Technology (Technische Universität Wien, TU Wien) offers only two different types of advice service – one for postdocs (and in German only) and one for professors.

Some organisations go much further. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft, FFG), whilst not an academic institution, offers a dual career grant of up to EUR 2,000. The aim is to cover integration costs such as German courses, inter-culture training, career advice and childcare costs.

The range of available dual career services depends on the specific case and available resources. There are a number of Austrian universities and research organisations who outsource their DC services, for example by contributing financially to a DC service network.

DC services are primarily promoted via websites, flyers, social media or email. Internal newsletters, flyers and articles in internal magazines with information on DC services are distributed by institutions to raise awareness of the services.

In terms of career progression by institutions, dual hiring for roles at the same institution is unusual at Austrian higher education institutions. Nearly all institutions permit couples to work at the same place, but managements are keen to avoid allegations of nepotism, interdependence or conflict of interest. Selection and employment procedures within the Austrian education system is made as transparent as possible; as a result, no organisation would allow a crossover of hierarchy between couples at the same institution. Scientists and researchers must bear this in mind when considering a dual career at an Austrian institution.


As well as the university-supported DC Services, regional support can also be found. These are services provided for by local regions or business chambers with an interest in promoting excellence and attracting the best academically qualified to their area.

Regional Support Organisations

Regional Support Organisation Description

Club International (CINT)

Service for international employees and their families in Graz and Styria Founded by the Styrian Federation of Austrian Industries (Industriellenvereinigung) and the Austrian Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKO) to support everyday challenges

Carinthian International Club (CIC)

For international employees in Carinthia Advisory service that aids introductions to social and economic life in the region Enables people to take decisions in relation to work, living or schooling of children

Vienna Business Agency – Expat Centre Vienna

Offers advice and support for international experts, managers and executives in Vienna Supports networking with the community and offers free counselling

Source: Euraxess © academics

The support for dual careers and their linked organisations is a growing and progressing movement that is new to Austrian higher education and one that is improving over time. The support can be found, but sometimes it takes time to find the right support for scientists and researchers.

DC networks can initially appear daunting with several overlapping organisations. For example, the network of universities in Vienna, Lower Austria and Upper Austria is known as the Dual Career Service. They endeavour to support couples in their career advancement and improve the compatibility of job and family. The first DC network was created by the five Styrian universities in 2010, then called the Dual Career Service, but since May 2018 is now known as the Dual Career Service Styria-Carinthia to reflect a greater network of universities.

In total there are four DC service networks across Austria. They are listed in the table below. Some of these services work across the same geographical regions.

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DC Service Networks

DC Service Network Description

Dual Career Service Styria – Carinthia (Dual Career Service Steiermark – Kärnten)

Covers the five Styrian universities Originally formed in 2010

Dual Career Service Vienna – Lower Austria – Upper Austria (Dual Career Service Wien – Niederösterreich – Oberösterreich)

Network spanning 15 universities and various educational and research institutions Formed in 2013

Dual Career Service Support of the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds, WWTF)

Has 13 member organisations from the scientific domain in the greater area of Vienna These organisations contribute financially to the DC Service Established in 2013

Dual Career Service Network Upper Austria – Salzburg – Tyrol (Netzwerk Dual Career Service Oberösterreich – Salzburg – Tirol)

Informal organisation for the three universities in the western provinces of Austria Established in 2017

Source: Euraxess © academics
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