The Republic of Austria has to pay damages to a former student of the Medical University of Graz as the university offered not enough seminar places. The student’s union is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Medical University offered only 264 places in seminars in the winter semester 2005/06 of the second stage of the degree. Students have to attend seminars and fail the course if they miss it once. These special lectures are obligatory for later courses.
Due to the low contingent, the former student did not get a place in the course and could thus not do certain lecture modules. The university did not offer additional lectures of the same type.
This resulted in a delay of his degree and additional costs of living. The student also had to pay the student fees again and started his career later.
The previous instances rejected his charges. Their reasoning was that the Republic could not be blamed for the delay as there were not enough professors in order to offer parallel lectures.
However, the Supreme Court revised this decision: “A lack of financial means and also the general lack of staff (…) cannot be excused as the Republic as a legal entity was obliged to provide the universities with all means in order to fulfill their legal obligations (also in the case of an increase of the number of students).”
According to the court, the Republic never ensured that there was enough staff as only the professors who taught at the university were taken into account. The universities did not try to employ professors of other European universities.
Martin Schott, the head of the student’s union, is pleased with the decision. He said that from now on, there would be an incentive for universities not to give in with performance agreements negotiations with the Republic.