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An Overview of Austria's Education System

In Austria compulsory education is applicable to all the children of six years old, permanently residing in the country and lasts for nine years. Austria has private schools and state schools wherein no tuition fee is charged. The Austrian education system offer a wide range of education and training choices, which are targeted to fulfil the desires and interests of students and their parents.

Educational Levels in Austria's Education System

Primary Level

Compulsory education begins with a four-year primary school level (Volksschule) [ISCED 1] till the child’s age is six years old. Primary schools focus on general education- developing the written and oral communication skills, critical thinking skills etc., thus nurturing social and intellectual skills of the children. Primary level is likewise comprises special needs schools that encourage and educate mentally or physically disabled kids. They prepare them to be a part of the work. 

Secondary Level

At this level, students can choose between two school types, though each have the time span of four years.


Lower Secondary School (Hauptschule): The first type is lower secondary school,or Hauptschule :Lower secondary schools imparts a basic general education, it enhances and develops the knowledge, aptitude, skills and abilities required for pursuing studies at the upper secondary level.

Lower Cycle of Academic Secondary School or allgemeinbildende hohere Schule or AHS [ISCED 2]: While the lower cycle of academic secondary schools conveys a wide-range of advanced secondary general education. Students can opt for further higher education like technical and general or vocational education (AHS ) after completing either of these school types.

Vocational training programs

Vocational training programs are provided in the dual system at VET schools (BMS) or VET colleges (BHS). Students who have finished lower secondary school or the lower level of AHS and wish to go for an apprenticeship training program within the dual system must complete nine year of mandatory education.

Apprenticeship Training Program
After completing the mandatory schooling criteria, they can attend  the apprenticeship training program at a one-year pre-vocational school [ISCED 3C]. Inaugral vocational training in an apprenticeship profession is provided partially by a training organisation and partially by a part-time vocational school for apprentices (Berufsschule) [ISCED 3B]. These vocational schools provide general education and specialized profession related knowledge and skills to the students.
  • VET Schools (BMS): After completing studies from lower secondary school or the lower cycle of academic secondary school, students may attend a VET school- BMS [ISCED 3B]. The VET schools begin after the eighth year of schooling and last for 4 years. 
  • VET Colleges (BHS): The VET colleges- BHS [ISCED 3A/4A] begin after the 8th year of schooling. 
After successful completion of five years and passing of a school-leaving exami, students obtain a Secondary Education Certificate and VET Diploma certificate, also called as Matura or Reifeprufung Certificate. There are different  kinds of VET colleges and schools such as business schools and colleges of business administration, schools for social occupations, forestry schools, agriculture schools, schools and colleges for engineering, arts schools, tourism, fashion etc.

Students after completing the fourth year of a secondary schools, can attend the Upper level of academic secondary schools (AHS) [ISCED 3A], that consists of years 9 to 12. The Upper level of academic schools comprises of a scope of alternatives among which students may choose. These alternatives are as follows:
  •  Classical Secondary Academic Schools: The Gymnasium, which focuses on foreign languages study
  • Secondary Academic Schools- The Realgymnasium, that focus on math, science and technical courses and emphasize in practice-oriented learning
  • Economy Secondary Academic Schools- focuses on social studies, economics, home economics and psychology subjects
  • Upper Secondary Academic Schools for Science: Such schools emphasize on subjects such as, biology, physics, environmental sciences and chemistry. 
  • Upper Secondary Academic Schools: Specialising in music and fine arts.
Courses of study in the upper level of academic secondary schools are of four years and come to an end with a final examination. Student after passing the final exam receive the Certificate of Secondary Education called Reifeprufung-Certificate or Matura.

Tertiary Level

At this level, student can go for post-secondary VET colleges (also called as, Akademien) [ISCED 5B] and post-secondary VET courses [ISCED 5B], Universities of applied sciences [ISCED 5A], University of Teacher education or Universities [ISCED 5A]. University of Applied Sciences and universities, offer three-year Bachelor degree programs, and one-to-two-year Master degree programs. At University of applied sciences, students can be enrolled in diploma studies, where graduates are awarded the Dipl.FH degree. Students completing a Master program or a diploma study are eligible to enroll in doctoral studies at universities [ISCED 6].

Continuing Education and Training

The Austrian Continiuing vocational education and training (CVET) requires an initial vocational training (IVET) and  is taught at schools, Higher Education Institutions, non-profit CVET institutions, private providers, etc.
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