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Austria Education System

Geographical Position

Austria is sandwiched between Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Lichtenstein, thereby positioning itself in the centre of Europe, establishing a link between east and west. Geographically, Austria is influenced by the Alps in its south east and centre, and the River Danube, 10% of which lies within the nation's borders-on which the capital city 'Vienna' was built. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world.

Austria- Quick Facts and Figures

Capital: Vienna
Official Language: German
Currency: Euro
Government: Federal Republic with parliamentary democracy
Area: 83.585 km2
Population: 8 million  

Austria's Education System: Timeline

If you are planning to study abroad, Austria is an excellent choice. Austria combines a prolonged tradition of higher education with the state of the art research. The country has all you need – from beautiful cities and a great cultural heritage to the striking Alps and great education facilities.

The Austrian education system has since the 1960's been under perpetual evolution. Until the reform of 1962, only 10% of kids attended the Allgemeinbildende Hohere Schulen-- AHS, which headed on the likelihood of further studies at university. By the early 1990s, more than 30 percent of all students finished the AHS track and just above 50 percent of them were female. A second educational path was also developed that allowed few students without a diploma from the university-track AHS to register in a university.

Contemporary Education System: Austria

The Republic of Austria has a free and a public school system, and a nine-year of education are obligatory. Schools offer several vocational-technical and university preparatory tracks involving one to four additional years of education beyond the minimum mandatory level.

The legal foundation for primary and secondary education in Austria is the School Act of 1962. The federal Ministry of Education is in charge for financing and directing primary, secondary, and, since 2000, likewise tertiary education. Primary and secondary education is regulated on the state level by the authorities of the individual states.

Austria has a diverse education system with quite a lot of different school types. Austrian children begin with kindergarten at the age of three and continue with primary school at the age of six. After four years of primary schooling, they have to decide whether to continue with a lower secondary school or with a secondary academic school (mostly grammar school). Compulsory education ends after 9 years of schooling, usually with the age of 15. At the secondary upper level, there’s a broad choice of different secondary academic, technical and vocational schools. For attending college or university, A-level examination i.e., the Matura results are needed.  

Austria's Educational Facts

Austria’s educational system is marked among the best in the world and it’s mostly directed toward the needs of the business world. One amongst the distinguishing features of the Austrian educational system is the extensive co- operation existing between the business community and educational establishments. 
According to the Global Competitiveness Report (GCP) 2013-2014, Austria ranks 16th position out of 148 nations. Austria is at the 8th spot for business sophistication, 15th place for innovation and 16th place for infrastructure. For higher education and training, Austria spots 13th position while for on-the-job training, it holds 5th position.  

Compulsory Education

Compulsory Education in Austria begins at the age of 6 and lasts for nine years.

Educational Levels in Austria

The Austrian system includes primary education that lasts for four years, then the secondary education that is split up into two intervals, each of four-years.
  • Elementary Level: The elementary level (ISCED 0) in Austria alludes the following  daycare centres for children: kindergartens, after-school care providers and children’s groups or playgroups.
  • Primary Level: The duration of primary level (ISCED 1) is four years and includes primary or elementary schools, special needs and integrative schools. Within the primary level starts the compulsory education journey. Compulsory schooling begins at the age six and ends at age 15.
  • Secondary Level I: After finishing four years of primary level, students will have to sit for secondary level I (ISCED 2) that begins from 5th level and lasts till the 8th form. Students can decide between the following school types, though admission prerequisites for each differs: the primary school upper cycle (also known as, Volksschul-Oberstufe), the lower secondary school (referred to as Hauptschule), the new secondary school, academic secondary school lower level- AHS Unterstufe as well as special needs schools and inclusive education.
  • Secondary Level II: After completing Secondary level I, students attend the secondary level II, i.e. a 9th year of school (ISCED 3 & 4), with the following choices: polytechnic schools, vocational schools and apprenticeships, vocational secondary schools and colleges, upper level of grammar schools and the vocational foundational year and integrative vocational education.
  • Post-Secondary Level: The non-tertiary post-secondary level refers to the 4th and 5th forms of vocational colleges, the educational institutions for nurses, education and training for health professions, preparatory and continuing education courses and the vocational matriculation examination.
  • Non-University Tertiary Level: After having finished vocational education, students can go for an Non-University tertiary level education (ISCED 5B), i.e. schools for master craftsmen, construction trades and foremen.
  • Tertiary Level: Tertiary level comprises of University, University of Applied Sciences or University College of Teacher Education. Once the student has completed general or vocational education, he/she can opt for tertiary level education and obtain highest possible degrees. 

Higher Education Institutions in Austria

  • Universities: Offer a wide range of study options for students.
  • Universities of the Arts: Students who want to study music, drama, film, fine arts or applied arts opt for Universities of the Arts.
  • Private Universities: Such Universities offer innovative and top notch education.
  • Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen): Such Universities provide students profession-oriented higher education through practical training and internships.
  • University Colleges of Teacher Education: Train teachers, with additional stress set on practical training in schools

Austria's Education System At a Glance

 Education Level Grade FromGrade To Age From Age To  Years
 Primary  Primary Primary Education (Volksschule) 1 4 6 9
 Secondary Secondary Lower Secondary Education (Hauptschule) 5 8 10 13
 Secondary Secondary Academic Secondary Education (Allgemeinbildende hohere Schulen-AHS, Gymnasium)   10 17
 Secondary Secondary Upper Secondary (Oberstufenrealgymnasium)   14 17
 Secondary Secondary Prevocational   14 15
 Vocational Vocational Vocational Education   14 18
 Tertiary Tertiary College and University    Above 18

Language of Instruction

German is the official language of Austria. Croatian, Slovenian and Hungarian are recognized as official languages of independent population groups in some regions. English is taught as the first foreign language in majority of the schools.

Academic Year

The academic year in Austria starts on October 1st and finishes on June 30th of the following year. It comprises of two semesters: Winter semester that begins from October 1st and lasts till January 30th, while the summer semester starts on March 1st and lasts till June 30th.
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