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Education System of Austria


Types of higher education institutions:

Universität (University)

Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences)

Akademie (College)

School leaving and higher education credentials:


Bachelor's Degree

Bakkalaureus (FH) (phasing out)

Bakkalaureus (phasing out)

Doktor (Medical Sciences)



Magister (FH) (phasing out)

Magister (phasing out)

Master's Degree


Doctor of Philosophy



Pre-higher education:

Duration of compulsory education:

Age of entry: 6

Age of exit: 14

Structure of school system:


Type of school providing this education: Volksschule

Length of program in years: 4

Age level from: 6 to: 9

Lower Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Hauptschule

Length of program in years: 4

Age level from: 10 to: 13

Academic Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Allgemeinbildende höhere Schulen, Gymnasium

Length of program in years: 8

Age level from: 10 to: 17

Certificate/diploma awarded: Reifeprüfung Certificate

Upper Secondary

Type of school providing this education: Oberstufenrealgymnasium

Length of program in years: 4

Age level from: 14 to: 17

Certificate/diploma awarded: Reifeprüfung Certificate


Length of program in years: 1

Age level from: 14 to: 15


Length of program in years: 5

Age level from: 14 to: 18

Certificate/diploma awarded: Reifeprüfung Certificate/ TVE Diploma

School education:

Compulsory education lasts for nine years including primary and lower secondary education plus a year of pre-school or a year of pre-vocational school. Primary education lasts for four years. Secondary education is divided into academic secondary schools, which lasts for 8 years and lower secondary school, which lasts for four years, and upper secondary school, which lasts for four years. Vocational secondary education lasts for five years. All streams lead to the Reifeprüfung Certificate, which gives access to higher education.

Higher education:

Higher education is provided by universities and universities of applied sciences (introduced in 1994). There are also Academies (e.g. Teacher Training Colleges). The 2002 University Reform redefined the relationship between the universities and the State. The universities remain State institutions and the State continues to finance them. Universities are fully autonomous to handle their internal affairs and formulate their statutes. The law provides for the establishment of a university board (Universitätsrat) at each institution which comprises leading figures from public life and the private sector. It is also responsible for providing the Federal Minister of Education, Science and Culture with expert opinion on issues of the given university and launching evaluation measures. The University Assembly elects the rector. The Ministry assumes a supervisory function only in legal affairs and continues to be responsible for strategic planning and research. The law establishes which groups of degree programmes may be introduced at universities and lays general rules concerning admissions and the award of academic degrees. In 1999, the University Accreditation Act was enacted which allows private institutions to obtain accreditation as a Private University by the Accreditation Council which works under the supervision of the Ministry. At private universities, study programmes can be offered either in accordance with state programmes and degrees, or without reference to them.

Main laws/decrees governing higher education:

Decree: Danube University Act Year: 2004

Decree: Fachhochschul-Studiengesetz (University of Applied Sciences Studies Act) Year: 1993

Concerns: Universities of Applied Sciences.

Decree: Hochschülerschaftsgesetz (Union of Student Act) Year: 1998

Concerns: Student Unions.

Decree: Universitäts-Akkreditierungsgesetz (University Accreditation Act) Year: 1999

Concerns: Private Universities.

Decree: Universitätsgesetz (Universities Act) Year: 2002

Concerns: Universities.

Academic year:

Classes from: Oct to: Jun

Languages of instruction: German

Stages of studies:

Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):

Non-university level:

The following schools offer courses to holders of the Reifeprüfung: Speziallehrgänge (Technology, Economics, Tourism and Catering), Kollegs (Tourism and Catering, Commerce and Technology), Medizinisch-Technische Akademien (Technical Medical Colleges, Midwifery Colleges). These institutions are administered by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the latter category, however, by the Federal Ministry of Health and Women. The Academy of Administration for the Training of Public Servants falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal Chancellery. The Diplomatic Academy is a special educational institution under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some intermediate and higher vocational schools also provide evening classes for working people.

University level studies:

University level first stage: Bachelor:

Bachelor programmes have been introduced recently by universities or universities of applied sciences by splitting their old diploma programmes into Bachelor and Master programmes. Access to Bachelor programmes is normally based on the Reifeprüfung Certificate.

University level second stage: Master:

Access to Master programmes is based on a completed Bachelor programme. Master programmes last for 1-2 years and require a master thesis and end with a Master examination (Magisterprüfung). They lead to the academic degree of Master, in Engineering to the Diplom-Ingenieur/Diplom-Ingenieurin.

University level third stage: Doktoratstudien:

Doctoral studies, which are only offered by universities, generally require a minimum of four semesters. Access is based on a completed Master programme at a university or a university of applied sciences. Doctoral programmes demand greater independence from students in their scientific work. Doctoral candidates are required to present a thesis approved by at least two professors and an examining Commission, and pass the final oral examination (Rigorosum). They are then awarded the title of Doktor/Doktorin. The universities are free to offer, in some scientific fields, PhD programmes which last for at least 8 semesters and which are subdivided into a more study-oriented and a purely scientific stage.

University level fourth stage: Habilitation:

The Habilitation is acquired within the university system and is based on special research achievements after the Doctorate and production of a research monograph. It is awarded with the title Universitätsdozent/in or Privatsdozent/in respectively. This is not an academic degree, but a special university qualification.

Teacher education:

Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers

Primary-school teachers are trained in three years, at post-secondary level, in Pädagogische Akademien (Teacher Training Colleges), each of which is attached to a practical school. Candidates must pass an aptitude test and at the end of their studies they must pass a Lehramtsprüfung.

Training of secondary school teachers

Secondary-school teachers, except for Hauptschulen, are trained at university in diploma programmes (i.e. no splitting into a bachelor and a master programme). The minimum duration of studies for the award of a teaching qualification is nine semesters, including a practical training period. On completion, students sit for the second Diplomprüfung in their major subject and are then conferred the degree of Magister/Magistra. They must, moreover, have one year's work experience as a probationary teacher (Unterrichtspraktikum).

Training of higher education teachers

After completing their diploma or master degree, most university teachers begin their career as university assistants (Universitätsassistent/inn/en) and acquire the additional qualifications necessary for advancement (Doctorate, Habilitation). The final selection of candidates is carried out by the rectors of the individual universities. Appointment as a professor requires a Habilitation or a commensurate form of scholarly, scientific or artistic qualification and a "call" (Berufung) by the responsible organs of the university. Employment will be on a contractual basis, except for those professors who have been formally appointed as "definitive" (tenured). Employment can be full-time or part-time.

Non-traditional studies:

Distance higher education

Distance education (Fernstudien) has been provided since 1979 by the Interuniversitäres Forschungsinstitut für Fernstudien. This Institute has links with all major Austrian universities and offers special courses for adults seeking employment. Students may also study at the Fernuniversität Hagen (Germany), which offers normal degree courses in Economics, Law, Social Sciences, Education and Management. Students at the Fernuniversität Hagen living in Austria may turn to the centres in Linz, Bregenz and Vienna for technical and social advice. There is a similar study centre at the Open University London located in Vienna. Under the Universities Act, Austrian universities may set up distance study courses. Furthermore there are special regulations as far as the admission, the documentation and the examination for distance studies are concerned.

Lifelong higher education

Austrian universities welcome senior citizens as students (Seniorenstudium). Courses, degrees and conditions of admission are the same as for younger students.


Administration & co-ordination:

Responsible authorities:

Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Kultur (Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture)

Head: Elisabeth Gehrer, Minister

Administrative officer: Sigurd Höllinger, Director General for Higher Education

Minoritenplatz 5
A-1014 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 531200

Fax: +43(1) 531203099

EMail: ministerium@bmbwk.gv.at

WWW: http://www.bmbwk.gv.at

Österreichische Rektorenkonferenz (Austrian Rectors' Conference)

Head: Christoph Badelt, President

Administrative officer: Heribert Wulz, Acting Secretary-General

Liechtensteinstrasse 22
A-1090 Wien

Tel: +43(1) 3105656-0

Fax: +43(1) 3105656-22

EMail: office@reko.ac.at

WWW: http://www.reko.ac.at

Role of governing body: Coordinates the policies of universities and universities of the arts: represents the universities' collective interests and promotes the exchange of information.

Österreichischer Akkreditierungsrat/Geschäftsstelle (Austrian Accreditation Council)

Head: Hannelore Weck-Hannemann, President

Administrative officer: Wilhelm Brandstätter

Teinfaltstr. 8
A-1010 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 531207863

Fax: +43(1) 53120817863

EMail: wilhelm.brandstaetter@bmbwk.gv.at

WWW: http://www.akkreditierungsrat.at/cont/de/index.aspx

Role of governing body: Evaluates private universities

Fachhochschulrat - FHR (FH Council)

Head: Claus Raidl, President

Administrative officer: Wilfrid Grätz, Managing Director

Liechtensteinstrasse 22A
1090 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 3195034-0

Fax: +43(1) 3195034-30

EMail: office@fhr.ac.at

WWW: http://www.fhr.ac.at

Role of governing body: Responsible for the external quality assurance (accreditation and evaluation) in the Austrian FH sector.

Österreichische Fachhochschul-Konferenz - FHK (Association of Universities of Applied Sciences)

Administrative officer: Kurt Koleznik, Secretary General, Acting

Wiedner Hauptstr. 63
1045 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 501055500

Fax: +43(1) 5010515500

EMail: office@fhk.ac.at

WWW: http://www.fhk.ac.at

Role of governing body: Association of Austrian Fachhochschulen.

Österreichischer Austauschdienst - ÖAD (Austrian Exchange Service)

Head: Alfred Ebenbauer, President

Administrative officer: Ulrich Hörmann, Secretary-General

Alser Strasse 4/1/3/8
A-1090 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 427728101

Fax: +43(1) 42779281

EMail: zg@oead.ac.at

WWW: http://www.oead.ac.at


Admission to non university higher education studies

Name of secondary school credential required: Reifeprüfung

Entrance exams required:

Depending on the objectives of the programme, entrants with special professional training may have to pass a number of additional examinations, either prior to admission or by a deadline, in any case before the beginning of the second year of studies.

Admission to university-level studies

Name of secondary school credential required: Reifeprüfung

For entry to: All higher education institutions (universities, universities of applied sciences)

Alternatives to credentials: Studienberechtigungsprüfung: examination giving access to higher education to Austrian nationals who are over 22 years of age and do not possess a Reifezeugnis but who have a professional or non-professional experience. It is valid only for those subjects in which it has been taken.Relevant professional qualification in combination with certain additional examinations in subjects of general education.

Foreign students admission

Definition of foreign student: A person who does not have Austrian citizenship. Foreign nationals who enjoy equal status with Austrian nationals are: citizens of Luxembourg, citizens of Liechtenstein and those born in the province of Bolzano (Italy) with German mother tongue, who have declared themselves members of these language communities and who do not have Austrian citizenship.

Quotas: The prerequisite is that there are sufficient places available for foreign students. EU and EEA citizens are admitted regardless of the number of places available.

Admission requirements: Foreign students are admitted to study courses at university if their qualifications are equivalent to the "Matura" (Reifezeugnis) and qualify them for entry to a university in their own country. They also must give evidence that an institution of higher education in the awarding country would accept them for university studies in the respective field.

Language requirements: Good knowledge of German is essential. In case of doubt, students must pass the compulsory German language examination (both written and oral) at the university before registering as full-time students. German language study facilities are available in all university towns and at a number of language schools. For students from the Near East, special courses are also conducted by the Hammer-Purgstall Society.

Application procedures:

Apply to individual institution for entry to: Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences.

Application closing dates:

For university level studies: 1 Sep

Recognition of studies & qualifications:

Studies pursued in home country (System of recognition/accreditation): The Austrian Accreditation Council evaluates private universities and programmes.

Studies pursued in foreign countries (bodies dealing with recognition of foreign credentials):


Head: Heinz Kasparovsky

Abt. VII/11
Teinfaltstrasse 8
A - 1014 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 53120 5921

Fax: +43(1) 53120 7890

EMail: naric@bmwk.gv.at

WWW: http://www.bmbwk.gv.at/naric

Deals with credential recognition for entry to: University and Profession

Services provided & students dealt with: The Austrian NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) is the official contact point for all kinds of questions concerning transfrontier recognition in the field of higher education.

Special provisions for recognition:

For access to university level studies: Higher education entrance qualifications are declared equivalent according to international agreements, such as the Lisbon Recognition Convention or the European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas or unilateral or bilateral agreements with certain European countries.

Multilateral agreements concerning recognition of foreign studies

Name of agreement: Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the Europe Region (Lisbon Convention)

Year of signature: 1997

Bilateral agreements concerning recognition of foreign credentials

Name of agreement: Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the Europe Region (Lisbon Convention)

Year of signature: 1997


Main student services at national level

Österreichischer Austauschdienst - ÖAD (Austrian Exchange Service)

Alser Strasse 4/1/3/8
A - 1090 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 427728101

Fax: +43(1) 42779281

EMail: info@oead.ac.at

WWW: http://www.oead.ac.at

Category of services provided: Social and welfare services; Academic and career counselling services; Special services/Centre for foreign students

Services available to foreign Students: Yes

National student associations and unions

Österreichischen HochschülerInnenschaft (Austrian National Union of Students)

Taubstummengasse 7-9
A - 1040 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 3108880-0

Fax: +43(1) 3108880-36

EMail: oeh@oeh.ac.at

WWW: http://www.oeh.ac.at

Health/social provisions

Social security for home students: Yes

Social security for foreign students: Yes

Foreign student social security provisions: Both Austrian and foreign students are entitled to health insurance which may be obtained from the Regional Public Health Insurance Institution (Gebietskrankenkasse), at the time of registration.

Special student travel fares:

By road: Yes

By rail: Yes

Available to foreign students: Yes

Student expenses and financial aid

Student costs:

Home students tuition fees: Minimum: 363 (Euro)

Foreign students tuition fees: Minimum: 726 (Euro)

Bodies providing information on student financial aid:

Studienbeihilfenbehörde (Study Grant Authority)

Gudrunstraße 179
1100 Vienna

Tel: +43(1) 60173-0

EMail: studien.beihilfen@stbh.gv.at

WWW: http://www.stipendium.at/stbh/

Deals with: Grants

Publications on student services and financial aid:

Title: Study Abroad 2005-2006

Author: UNESCO

Year of publication: 2005


Principal national bodies responsible for dealing with international cooperation and exchanges in higher education:

Auslandsbüros (Foreign Offices) at the universities and universities of applied sciences

Participation of country in multilateral or bilateral higher education programmes

Name of exchange programme: ASEA-UNINET

Name of exchange programme: CEEPUS

Name of exchange programme: LEONARDO

Name of exchange programme: SOCRATES

Name of exchange programme: TEMPUS


Usual grading system in secondary school

Full Description: 1-5; 1 sehr gut; 2 gut; 3 befriedigend; 4 genügend; 5 nicht genügend

Highest on scale: 1

Pass/fail level: 4

Lowest on scale: 5

Main grading system used by higher education institutions

Full Description: 1-5 1 sehr gut/excellent; 2 gut/good; 3 befriedigend/satisfactory; 4 genügend/sufficient:; 5 nicht genügend/failure

Highest on scale: 1

Pass/fail level: 4

Lowest on scale: 5


Data for academic year: 2005-2006

Source: IAU from ENIC NARIC Austria, BMBWK, Vienna, 2006

Note on Higher Education Institutions: Also 2 Militärische Akademien/ Military Academies: Landesverteidigungsakademie (http://www.bmlv.gv.at/organisation/beitraege/Ivak/index.shtml) and Fachhochschul-Studiengang Militärische Führung (http://www.bmlv.gv.at/karriere/offizier); Akademien für Lehrerbildung/ Teacher Training Colleges, Hebammenakademien/ Academies for Midwifery, Medizinisch-technische Akademien/ Clinical Technical Academies, Psychotherapeutische Ausbildungseinrichtungen/ Training Institutions for Psychoterapy, Konservatorien/ Conservatories, and Wirtschaftsschulen/ Business Schools

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