Postdocs in Austria
Post-doctorate fellowships in Austria for foreigners
In Austria, universities and research institutions have strict requirements and high expectations for postdoc fellowships. This article will give you an insight into postdoc fellowships in Austria, as well as what you may expect to receive in terms of salary and financial remuneration.
A brief introduction to postdoc fellowships in Austria
Austria is home to many respected and prestigious research institutions and universities. This includes the University of Graz, TU Wien and the University of Vienna.
Post-doctoral studies are the phase between a doctorate and a professorship. This is a qualification phase, during which postdocs delve deeper into their specialist areas. It does depend on the institution, but positions are generally between two and three years in length but can be up to four. Candidates are selected by the head of the research group – generally the professor or assistant professor and is subjected to sufficient funds. Applications are on a continuous basis.
Entry into such programmes are highly sought after and therefore competitive. However, there are a growing number of courses with institutions in Austria, particularly with science institutions, so there is a good chance of gaining a position with the relevant academic qualification.
Post-doctorate studies are conducted on specific topics. It depends on the course, but positions may also come attached with teaching duties.
Again, it does depend on the institution, as each varies its requirements for entry, but the emphasis on recruitment is based on the highest standard of doctorate previously achieved.
Outside of academic success, universities and institutions place an emphasis on so-called ‘soft skills’. These can be obvious personality traits such as ambition or enthusiasm; spending time abroad and a good grasp of a foreign language, particularly English, is seen as desirable. In addition, knowledge of the German language would be a plus.
Getting a postdoc position
Applicants must check the eligibility requirements for post-doctorate positions if coming from abroad. While this varies depending on the institution, applicants may be asked to fulfil or commit to varying different requirements. It is not unusual to commit to relocating to Austria for the period of appointment. Some institutions ask that candidates have previously lived in Austria, and some are only eligible if they have lived in the country for a set period.
It is important to take note of job announcements such as those listed on academics.com. These should be read carefully and you should ask yourself how the role that interests you fits into your research career. The tasks and duties must be appropriate to what you may want to do. What requirements do you feel you meet – and do not meet?
Applicants are frequently asked for their list of publications, so be prepared to cite examples of your work. Applicants are also asked to provide a “motivation” letter – explaining why you are applying, what your ambitions are and why the institution to which you are applying appeals.
It would not be unusual for the institution to ask to see a copy of the thesis from your highest obtained degree.
In a survey taken by Viennese post-doctorates the following was found:
50 per cent of post-doctorates are forced to leave academia
30 per cent leave voluntarily
19 per cent think they can get a job outside academia
There was found to be a gender bias, with female postdocs being less confident in their career options. More females had been unemployed and for longer when compared to males. There was found to be limited social mobility due to the social background of academics. Work/life balance made a career in academia for women more difficult, with the prospect of starting a family.
Having said this, the general view is more positive. Many institutions are keen to highlight a variety of family services on offer, to attract candidates of the highest calibre. On-site day care for children is not uncommon. Equally, a variety of accommodation, including apartments and guesthouses can be offered on campus.
Career paths and the challenges around these positions are highly individual for each scientist and researcher and there is no one standard route for the academic.
Typically, as part of your post-doctoral studies in Austria, you will be offered four areas as part of your modules. There is a heavy emphasis on self-determination when it comes to study.
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Aspects of postdoc study
To enhance your position, to bring together core competences within the academic framework and develop your own plan of action for the future.
To achieve a rounded education within the field, there will be lengthy talks with academic seniors – your manager, and to create dialogue for professional feedback.
Peer coaching and expert talks
Peer coaching aims to help you on the final stretch of scientific qualifications. There will be support from fellow peers as well as external experts.
This conveys specific know-how and competencies in the scientific field. This will also prepare you for interviews and lectures – depending on areas of expertise and interest.
Candidates for postdoc fellowships are often highly qualified and have often recently completed a PhD or equivalent qualification.
Many postdocs are academic staff working at universities or at research institutions. Their salary falls within the job group of A2, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement of sections 98 and 99 of the 2002 Universities Act.
Academic salary groups in Austria
Academic staff with whom a qualification agreement was concluded
University assistants (known as assistant professors), senior scientists, senior lecturers and project staff who have completed masters or diplomas
Student staff and project staff who have not completed a masters or diploma scheme
The gross monthly pay of the A2 salary group is typically in the range of an entry-level post-doctoral graduate. Under law the salary amounts to a maximum of €3,772.60. The figure offered varies from institution to institution, but this is a typical offer.
For positions such as senior post-doctorate level, monthly gross salaries can expect to be even higher, and salaries of around €4,080 not uncommon. The maximum allowed under this seniority is €4,388.70 under article 27 of the 2002 Universities Act.
Permanent staff members of institutions in this band grade can expect that figure to increase over time.
Grants, whilst available, are very highly targeted and in different academic fields. Grants are primarily aimed at foreign students to aid and assist their stay in Austria. They are often targeted at people from specific countries and are financed either by the state, the institution, a foreign government, or a mixture of these income streams. A comprehensive guide for available grants can be found here.