The Austrian government has launched processes to assist both women in science and university students. The 'professorinnen x2' programme aims to increase the number of women professors at universities, and will receive one million euro during 2005 from the Council for Research and Technological Development. 'Through a special incentive system with vocational awards of around 50,000 euro, the proportion of women in research and science should be further increased,' according to Education and Research Minister Elisabeth Gehrer. A steering committee will be set up in the near future. The government has, in recent years, made funding available for universities to further support for women researchers. Nearly all Austrian universities now have a contact point offering and information and support with regard to childcare. The financial difficulties faced by many students are also likely to improve following agreement on an amendment to the law on financial support for students on 11 January. The amendment affects the 2003 law that made special provisions for students with children and students with disabilities. 'This amendment will, through clear improvement to individual measures for student support, lead to further advantages and relief for students,' said Ms Gehrer. Students going on to do a PhD after successfully completing a diploma will benefit from improved conditions when seeking financial support, according to the government. The amendment will also see funding awarded to universities rather than individual faculties, thus granting the universities increased autonomy, announced Ms Gehrer. The minister was particularly pleased that the proposal received the unanimous backing of all four political parties represented in the parliament.