Even after Christine Aschbacher’s resignation as Minister of Labor and Family Affairs, the processing of allegations of plagiarism continues. The reason for the resignation was that communication scientist and plagiarism expert Stefan Weber had published clear indications that the minister – now out of service – both in her diploma thesis at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt from 2006 and in her dissertation “Design of a management style for innovative companies “, which she handed in at the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava on May 31, 2020, plagiarized and published false quotations.
According to Weber, the diploma thesis entitled “Competencies in Sales – Requirements in Key Account Management” in the course “Business Advisory Professions” undercut “all scientific standards”, in some passages Aschbacher “plagiarized”: “The transition from wrong quotation to plagiarism is fluent, as the almost completely plucked off page 36 shows, on which less than 15 words are from the author. “
Incidentally, the fact that the work was judged with a 1 could now be the undoing of the retired Neo-Minister: “If Ms. Aschbacher had correctly identified all plagiarism and incorrect quotations, she would not have received a very good,” says Weber. Since a downgrade of the grade is not possible, the legal withdrawal of the title must follow, the “Wiener Zeitung” reported.
A plagiarism check of the dissertation, which is available for download on the homepage of the Slovak TU, is still pending, but a first technical check using plagiarism software identified 21 percent of this 134-page text as plagiarism. So it was text passages that were taken from other sources without being scientifically correct. This also includes linguistic bon mots such as the sentence “Assumptions are like barnacles on the side of a boat; they slow us down.” These are likely to have come about by taking over an automated translation of a Forbes article.
Both titles from Christine Aschbacher wobble
For Weber one thing is clear: “The serious violations of morality, of scientific and political integrity were more than evident,” he wrote in his blog after the minister resigned.
The University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt has set a test procedure in motion and on Monday was concerned with setting up, including the selection of those involved in this procedure. You could not yet say whether and which external bodies are involved in the examination of the work. In any case, it is clear: “If, for example, after the annulment of the evaluation of an academic work, it is found that the award of the academic degree was fraudulently obtained, the notification with which the academic degree was awarded will be revoked,” says the FH Wiener Neustadt opposite the “Wiener Zeitung” in advance.
Regardless of whether the Slovak TU also reviews the dissertation, such a negative decision by the FH would have an impact on Aschbacher’s doctorate. Because, according to Weber: “If the Austrian master’s degree at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt should be revoked – and there will be no other way of doing things right – Ms. Aschbacher has also sneaked into the admission requirement for a doctoral degree in Slovakia.”
Quality of the Wiener Neustadt University of Applied Sciences
The course “Business Advisory Professions” was one of the first admitted in 1999, it no longer exists under this name, “which is nothing unusual because courses are constantly being developed,” says Jürgen Petersen, managing director of the agency for quality assurance and accreditation Austria, which has been responsible for the universities of applied sciences since 2012.
“At the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt there is nothing unusual, the last audit was carried out without any conditions.” One of the criteria is a functioning quality management system, the FH has one. It could and can also ensure process and rule-oriented good scientific practice. However, plagiarism software is not required: “How the FH actually meets the quality criteria is up to it within the framework of the university’s autonomy.”
The latest audit report on quality management at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt was written by ZEVA Hanover in 2016, which also states that although new processes are still being tested in science, a “clear work program” in terms of quality assurance is recognizable in studies and teaching the quality management is “well fulfilled”.
The “Business Consultancy International” offered today at the Wiener Neustadt University of Applied Sciences is rated very well in the latest CHE university ranking. Points are only deducted for the Bachelor’s degree for international orientation and practical relevance. In the annual university ranking of the industrial magazine from March 2020, however, the FH Wiener Neustadt only made it to 14th place out of 18 assessed university sponsors in the ranking of the HR managers questioned. The image of Wiener Neustädter could be better. However, the quality and how it is ensured in the course and at the end of the course does not play a role in either assessment.
Kurt Koleznik, General Secretary of the University of Applied Sciences Conference, said in an interview with the “Wiener Zeitung”: “I would like to emphasize that possible plagiarism is not a systemic problem of the universities of applied sciences, but a possible one of a specific subject area 2006, i.e. 15 years ago Wiener Neustädter FH. ” It was not yet clear whether Aschbacher’s work was plagiarism or whether it was just bad German.
“The temptation to take such abbreviations is there. Students are under enormous pressure in the copy-paste society,” says Koleznik, however. He therefore advises all universities of applied sciences to sharpen the software and the four-eyes principle again, to explain to the students even more precisely than before what scientific work means and to learn from the occasion. Because: “Plagiarism is by no means a trivial offense.”