Rules for nostrification to be changed

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In the future, the nostrification of foreign qualifications will be based more on a template and less on complex individual examinations. Education Minister Martin Polaschek and Economics Minister Martin Kocher (both ÖVP) have set themselves this goal. A summit with all parties involved will be held as soon as possible. The initial focus will be on health professions and the care sector.
Nostrification means that a degree obtained abroad is equivalent to an Austrian degree. This means an academic degree can be used, or a certain profession can be practiced. The universities that offer the relevant degree course are generally responsible for the nostrification procedure. This is because it is assumed that they know best when a corresponding degree is equivalent. There are currently an average of around 500 applications per year. This involves procedural costs of 150 euros, plus often translations, etc.

However, nostrification is not always necessary for practicing a particular profession; it only comes into play for regulated professions such as lawyers, doctors, healthcare, and nursing staff or teachers, i.e., when an Austrian degree is required by law, and no other form of recognition is possible. For EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, access to regulated professions is regulated more simply by the EU Professional Qualifications Directive.

Around 70,000 additional nursing staff will be needed by 2050, Polaschek said on Friday. This demand could not be met from within Germany alone. “We need qualified immigration. That’s why we have to approach people in these countries actively, but then the processes have to fit accordingly.” Currently, the procedures take too long, costing both the applicants and the examining institutions a lot of energy. Universities have to compare curricula and look at various subject lists taught at the institution in the third country.

Polaschek has set himself the goal of abolishing nostrification where necessary and otherwise regulating it anew. To this end, there could be templates for countries of origin based on the examples of other countries. This would determine what degrees look like in a particular country. For example, it could then be determined that a person with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from country X usually meets the requirements for an equivalent degree in Austria and must complete certain subjects from country Y.

Kocher referred to simplifications already implemented with the Red-White-Red Card. For example, a qualified nurse who still lacks supplementary examinations for recognition can work as a nursing assistant at a lower level. The AMS is currently responsible for recognizing non-regulated professions such as trades. Pre-checklists could also be used here in the future, said Kocher: “There are certain countries where this can be done very well.” For others, the individual case-by-case assessment would remain the rule.

The Green coalition partner reacted with irritation on Friday: The Ministry of Social Affairs welcomes any move that leads to simplifications and acceleration of nostrifications, as stated in a statement from the department led by Johannes Rauch (Greens) to the APA. “We have been in talks with our coalition partner for two years. Gesundheit Österreich GmbH is already working on a so-called nostrification database in the field of nursing and care on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs.” The first results will be presented to the public in the coming weeks. “It is therefore very surprising that the Minister of Science and the Minister of Labor are now announcing a nostrification summit for nursing and healthcare professions without first consulting the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.”

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