On 23 September 2019, the head of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, Ms Martina Hirayama, met with the head of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Ms Iris Rauskala, in Bern to share information and perspectives. Given the considerable importance of cooperation in education, research and innovation (ERI) for both countries, dialogue between Switzerland and Austria takes place at regular intervals. The next meeting will be held in Austria in 2021.
Swiss-Austrian bilateral ties in the area of education, research and innovation were the main focus of the meeting between State Secretary Hirayama and Federal Minister Rauskala. They also discussed multilateral research cooperation, particularly EU research framework programmes.
In the plenary gathering that followed this meeting, the high-level delegations discussed Austrian plans to reform the higher education sector, to provide online access to research publications over the Internet (Open Access), the possible expansion of the Lead Agency agreement between Swiss and Austrian research funding institutions and experiences with international cooperation in innovation.
Austria is an important partner for Switzerland when it comes to ERI. Cooperation takes place at many different levels and is particularly intensive in the areas of transport, energy, healthcare and cutting-edge technologies. The outstanding level of networking and cooperation between researchers and institutions from both countries has very often been the result of joint projects pursued within the framework of the EU research framework programme ’Horizon 2020’. There have been nearly 450 instances of project cooperation to date, making Austria one of Switzerland’s top ten partner countries. Between mid-2014 and mid-2019, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) also sponsored over 400 projects involving Austrian partners. At 1,300 students (2018/19; foreign students only), Austrian nationals constitute the fifth largest group of foreign students in Switzerland; in contrast, over 500 Swiss students study at universities in Austria.