WORLD / EUROPE
Austrian minister resigns in student plagiarism scandal
Published: Jan 10, 2021 06:03 PM
Austrian minister Christine Aschbacher resigned on Saturday from her cabinet post in charge of labor, families and youth following allegations that some of her university work was plagiarized.

A conservative from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's OeVP party, Aschbacher said she had stepped down to "protect my family," complaining of "hostility, political agitation and attacks... with unbearable force."

Aschbacher's 2006 master's thesis displayed "plagiarism, incorrect quotations and lack of knowledge of the German language," alleged blogger Stefan Weber, who specializes in sniffing out academic fraud.

At the time, she graduated with high marks from the University of Applied Sciences in Wiener Neustadt, south of Vienna. Weber has leveled the same allegations at a thesis she submitted in May 2020, in the depths of the first wave of coronavirus, to the Technical University of Bratislava in neighboring Slovakia.

He claimed the work contained "never-before-seen depths of gobbledygook, nonsense and plagiarism" and that more than one-fifth of the text had been lifted from other sources without citations, in particular an article from Forbes magazine. 

Under attack by the opposition, Aschbacher "rejected" what she called Weber's "insinuations."

Kurz said that he "respected" her decision to resign, after the scandal piled pressure on a government facing criticism for its management of the second wave of COVID-19. The chancellor added that he would name a successor on Monday.

Academic plagiarism is a regular charge leveled at politicians in the German-speaking world, where leaders often brandish postgraduate qualifications.
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