What kind of students do professors admire

Cornuel: "Some professors don't even want to teach"

derStandard.at: I brought you a letter. The letter from the International Student Initiative for Pluralism, in which students of economics demand more plurality in teaching and less focus on the mainstream. Have you read it?

Badelt: Yes, I know the letter.

Cornuel: I do not know him. After reading the first page, however, I understand what it is about and I can only agree. The world has become more diverse, and the students are also more diverse. Nevertheless, we are sticking to research that goes back to Humboldt. This research is good, but we are only focusing on one direction. The problem is that this research is often concerned with intellectual issues and less with social issues or teaching. I'm not saying this approach is bad, but if you don't look around and only accept one way of thinking as the only right one, it will mean the end of university.

Badelt: As an economist, I largely agree with the letter. But we're already further at our university, I'm proud of that. We have developed programs at WU that explicitly deal with alternatives, such as socio-economics. But there remains a problem: Academic careers arise through publications in specialist magazines. It's very hard to get published there when you're working outside of mainstream research. This problem cannot be solved by teaching at a university, this is due to the climate within research and what is seen as a success.

Cornuel: The problem is also that some professors don't want to teach at all. Some charge a high salary and then mainly do their research. Many believe that only research is important, not teaching. For me, the greatest reward is when I can discuss with my students over coffee, not when I publish an article. In the "Financial Times" ranking of business schools, publications in only 47 specialist magazines are considered, which is ridiculous.

derStandard.at: Mr. Badelt, are there any professors at WU who refuse to teach?

Badelt: There is a tendency. In German-speaking countries, however, professors teach considerably more than in Anglo-American countries. If we want to call someone to university, we have a disadvantage here. That is a big problem. It is a fact that research is what counts in the competition for good faculty members.

derStandard.at: You mentioned socio-economics as an example of diversity at WU. Isn't this group also marginalized within the university?

Badelt: The socio-economics students themselves feel special. They have their own DNA, that's probably true. But I don't see that as a problem, they are very active and critical, that is very important. This is not the case within the professorships, of course there are individual teachers whose positions are in the minority. But that is also the case with mainstream subjects.

derStandard.at: Mr. Cornuel, in Austria there are hardly any tuition fees and no access restrictions. What do you make of it?

Cornuel: As a public university, you have a job to do. At least for the Bachelor's level, there should be no or only moderate fees. Still, we have to be realistic. Education costs money, and tuition fees may be charged at the Masters level. It is admirable when the university has opened its gates to everyone, as it is here. Nonetheless, I ask myself how one should teach strategic management in front of 500 students, for example. Politicians keep saying how important research and education are to them. They prefer to spend the money courting older voters with high pensions rather than investing it in the future of the young. It's criminal, and that's why I don't like politicians. You always think in the short term.

derStandard.at: Do you agree, Herr Badelt?

Badelt: The subject of tuition fees is by no means as important as controlled access to universities based on capacity

derStandard.at: Are you satisfied with the entrance exams that take place in July as part of the study place financing?

Badelt: Yes and no. We saw last year that the entrance test leads to self-selection. Nevertheless, we have to accept twice as many students as we have places.

derStandard.at: You have announced that you will no longer be available as rector from 2015. Why?

Badelt: When my term of office ends in 2015, I will have been rector for thirteen years, before that I was vice-rector for four years. It is good when you choose to leave voluntarily and not let others decide.

Cornuel: I think that's very sad, he's a good rector.

derStandard.at: You always had the feeling that you enjoyed it. Also the confrontation with politics.

Badelt: For sure. I'll have fun until the last day. But you should still leave if you are still having fun and as long as other people think you are successful. (Lisa Aigner, derStandard.at, June 17, 2014)

To the people:

CHRISTOPH BADELT is an economist and has been the rector of the Vienna University of Economics since 2002; he is currently on leave as head of the Institute for Social Policy. Badelt will retire as rector of WU in 2015.

ERIC CORNUEL is head of the European Foundation for Management and Development (EFMD) in Brussels and affiliate professor for business administration at "HEC Paris".

The EFMD is an international network consisting of universities, business enterprises, scientists and leaders with headquarters in Brussels. The organization is primarily concerned with the accreditation of management programs. The EFMD is currently holding its annual conference at the Vienna University of Economics and Business.