The corona pandemic makes it clear once again: We communicate with data and visualizations, analyze complex forecast scenarios, work with model calculations and eagerly await new calculations of large amounts of data from all corners of the world. All of this would be unthinkable without IT. Computer science is one of the core scientific disciplines of our time and as such an important basis for scientific progress in almost all disciplines. Communication, mobility, health – practically all relevant innovations in these important areas can be traced back to basic research in computer science and interdisciplinary cooperation with researchers from other areas.
Austrian universities make an important contribution to this, with numerous ERC grants and other awards for Austrian researchers showing year after year. In order to secure and expand the good position of IT in Austria, however, further measures are necessary. The core demands of Informatik Austria have long included the introduction of a compulsory subject informatics in schools from the beginning of the lower grades to the Matura, as well as a strengthening of informatics research through well-equipped universities and measures to improve the networking of researchers. “A large-scale, Austria-wide IT offensive is urgently needed in order to provide the necessary basic knowledge for IT applications and to train sufficient experts. This is the only way to strengthen and secure Austria as a location for business and science,” confirms Gerald Steinhardt, Chairman of Informatik Austria . It is all the more welcome that the Science Council has come to similar recommendations in its recently published report on the situation of computer science in Austria (information at: www.wissenschaftsrat.ac.at):
- Computer science as an independent compulsory subject must be introduced in schools from secondary level.
- Universities must be equipped with additional professorships and associated research groups and laboratories.
- Computer science professorships must be advertised as broadly as possible in order to attract the best international researchers to Austrian universities.
- And finally, cooperation between researchers in Austria should be supported and facilitated by a funded and managed networking platform.
These four measures – expansion of the compulsory subject computer science in schools (with improved training of computer science teachers), well-equipped new professorships at the universities, new ways of filling professorships and a networking and cooperation platform for research in Austria – are the most important cornerstone of an urgently needed IT offensive for Austria, for which Informatik Austria stands.
The aim of the required IT offensive is to ensure excellence in research and teaching. This anchors computer science as an important success factor for other disciplines and supports the transfer of knowledge from basic research to application-oriented research and business. A significant expansion of computer science at the universities and a functioning networking and cooperation platform are important measures to achieve the urgently needed increase in training capacities in the field of computer science and to give interdisciplinary research an additional, efficient framework.
The introduction of the compulsory subject of computer science from the beginning of the lower grades to the Matura is quickly necessary in order to teach young people the basic computer science knowledge they need in everyday life and at work and thus turn them into active problem solvers and creative designers. According to expert opinion, Austria is a country that is shaping its digital future according to its own ideas and values and is not only dependent on the consumption of American or Chinese technology. To do this, it is essential to convey the ideas of computer science to all school children and to teach the basics of computer science and thus our future at universities.