Education in Austria




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Educational systems

Children from age 0 to 6

Very young and pre-school children are taken care of in nurseries (Kinderkrippen) (for babies and very young children), in kindergartens (from age three to six) and pre-school classes (from age five). Very young children (on average from age two) are also looked after in very small groups by day parents (Tagesmütter), especially in small towns and rural areas.


Schooling is compulsory for nine years in Austria (from age six to 15, first to ninth grade).

The first four years of compulsory education are completed in primary schools (Volksschule or Grundschule); from age ten children can attend either a junior high school or secondary school (Hauptschule, or Kooperative Mittelschule), or in certain provinces, e.g. Vienna, a ‘new middle school’ (Neue Mittelschule) (educational experiment) or the lower grades of a higher general secondary school (allgemeinbildende höhere Schule (AHS) also called Gymnasium). All school types comprise four educational levels.

The ninth school year (age 14-15) can be completed at a polytechnical school (Polytechnische Schule) (a school emphasising vocational orientation and preparation for an apprenticeship) or in other types of school.

Special education

There are also special schools for disabled children or children with special educational needs (e.g. severe learning difficulties, etc.) for the first eight to nine years of their school education (e.g. special needs schools (Sonderschule) and special pedagogical centres (Sonderpädagogisches Zentrum)). 
In many cases, however, these children are also educated alongside others in standard schools in ‘integration classes’.

Other types of school

Intermediate vocational schools (from age 14, 9th-11th or 12th school grades) conclude with a technical examination; higher vocational schools (from age 14, 9th-13th school grade) conclude with a technical examination and the general school-leaving examination (Matura). 
On leaving vocational schools, pupils may have qualified for one or more professions or occupations.

The higher general secondary school and grammar school (from age 14, 9th-12th school grades) also conclude with the general school-leaving examination (Matura).


Training for around 250 professions can be obtained in basic vocational training (apprenticeship) from age 15. Most apprenticeship training courses last between three and four years. The occupation is learned on the job and at the vocational school simultaneously. 
After the apprenticeship period, the young person (apprentice) passes a final apprenticeship examination and becomes a skilled technician or craftsman (Geselle/Gesellin).

University, College

The Matura (school-leaving examination) is the prerequisite for higher education (university, academy, technical university, college). 
Qualified school-leavers from intermediate vocational schools or qualified apprentices can prepare for university entrance by way of the vocational qualifying examination (Berufsreifeprüfung or Berufsmatura).
Qualified school-leavers from junior secondary schools (Hauptschule) or pupils who have dropped out can do so by way of the study entitlement examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung).

In Austria there is a variety of course options in technical studies, humanities, arts and other fields of study. Technical universities offer practical training, facilitating direct access to a profession. Higher education colleges (pädagogische Hochschule) offer training for teachers at primary schools, secondary schools, special schools and polytechnic schools.

Adult education

In Austria there are also general and vocational colleges and technical universities and university courses for working people which are offered as evening classes.

Private schools

Private schools in Austria account for about 8% of the total number. Most publicly authorised private schools are denominational schools; in addition there are some schools which teach according to a particular system. Private schools are fee-paying establishments. There are no fees to be paid for state schools. The quality of State schools is very high in comparison to other education systems in Europe.

Requirements for the admission to Austrian universities

The following requirements must be fulfilled for the matriculation of a foreign citizen (or a stateless person) as a regular student in Austrian university degree programmes:

·         A place to study has to be available at the university for the desired course of studies.

·         The applicant must have an A-level or high school diploma, that can be considered equivalent to an Austrian Matura examination certification (either regulated by an agreement or in individual cases decided by the vice chancellor, possibly with certain requirements) or furnish proof of completion of a three-year (minimum) study at another certified post-secondary educational institution.

·         The certification must be sufficient for acceptance to the desired course of study at a university in the country in which it was acquired. Any study-related requirements (e.g. entrance examination) must be fulfilled in the country in which the A-level or high school diploma was issued.

·         If the desired course of study in Austria is not offered in the home country, then this proof is to be furnished regarding the most similar course of study. Only if the country does not have a university, this proof does not have to be submitted.

·         In addition, the applicant must have sufficient German knowledge. If necessary, an examination is to be taken.


At the latest by 5 September or 5 February every year for the following semester.


·         To EU and EEA citizens, the same application periods apply as to Austrian residents.

·         At the universities of the arts, the same application periods apply to foreigners as to Austrian residents, and admission is based on the entrance examination.

Only those foreigners who come to Austria for a short time in the context of an Erasmus programme (and thus do not intend to complete an entire course of study) do not need to take an entrance examination.

Responsible Authority

The respective university (the decision is made by the vice chancellor).

Required Documents

·         Passport, identity card or proof of citizenship in combination with an official identification with photo

·         A-levels, high school diploma or equivalent certification

·         Transcript with grades from the last school year

·         Various filled-out forms:

o    Application form for admission

o    Registration form

o    Form for statistics

o    Student document of identification with photograph attached

o    Form for continuation

·         Second photograph

·         Bank receipt indicating payment of the per semester tuition fee if the applicant is not otherwise exempt

All documents are to be submitted in the original and in a German translation which was publicly authenticated in the originating country and was last authenticated by the Austrian representation in that country. The last authentication is not necessary in those countries whose public authentication is recognised by Austria because of treaty agreements.

Admission restrictions

Admission restrictions may be in effect for the following courses of study:

·         Medicine

·         Other medical courses

·         Psychology

·         Veterinary medicine

·         Dentistry

·         Bachelor studies as of the year 2010/2011

o    "Journalism and Communication Studies" (University of Vienna)

o    "Communication Studies" (University of Salzburg)

o    "Media and Communication Studies" (University of Klagenfurt)

·         Courses of study in especially high demand (according to article 14 University Act 2002)

The vice-chancellor of the respective university decides on the type of admission procedure. This can be implemented either before the studies are begun or after the admission within the first two semesters. Usually, selection procedures take place before admission. Please contact the respective universities for further information.

EU citizens are in principle on an equal footing with Austrian citizens.

Tuition fee

As of summer semester 2013, the following provisions on the university tuition fee are applicable:

Regular students with EU/EEA citizenship and persons enjoying equal rights as Austrians before the law (permanent residents, residence in Austria of at least five years before start of studies, etc.) have to pay a tuition fee of €363.36 per semester if they exceed the minimum period of study of a BA, MA or PhD programme by more than two semesters.

Students from third countries have to pay a tuition fee of €726.72 per semester.

Irregular students who are only admitted to certain lectures have to pay a tuition fee of €363.36 per semester irrespective of their citizenship.

The tuition fee has to be paid only once per semester, even if several courses of study are followed concurrently at several universities.

Health insurance


If you fulfil the prerequisites for co-insurance (under 27 years of age, proof of achievement similar to family allowance), then you can apply to be co-insured with your parents (also grandparents or step-parents), or with your spouse

Co-insurance of children in training is possible, at the longest, up to the age of (including) 26 years, if they are not insured themselves.

Student insurance

If no other insurance protection is available, then the student has the possibility to insure himself/herself at a preferential rate (in 2017: €56.74 per month).


·         Total income of less than €10,000 per year

·         Adherence to the duration requirement (minimum period plus one semester per study period plus four semesters)

·         At most two course of study changes

·         No completed course of study

Voluntary self-insurance

If none of the above-mentioned possibilities is applicable, you can insure yourself with voluntary self-insurance. In order not to be immediately classified at the maximum rate, you should apply for reduction of the fee basis directly with the application for voluntary self-insurance.

All these insurance possibilities are only available by applying to a health insurance institution. They must be renewed after each break during the study (e.g. in the case of obligatory insurance with a holiday job).

Universities of applied sciences

Courses at universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschul-Studiengänge) were created as an independent supplement and alternative to the existing courses of study at universities. Particular features of this type of education are:

·         Profession-oriented and experience-oriented organisation

·         Fixed study duration – six semesters (bachelor study) and two to four semesters (master study) – obligatory attendance

·         Award of an academic degree to the graduates

Students at universities of applied sciences are on an equal footing with students at other universities.

Measures concerning academic subsidies or subsidies of studies abroad also apply to students at universities of applied sciences.

Since 1996, certain courses of study have also been offered for employed persons (work and study in contrast to full-time study).



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