Higher Education System in Austria

In Austria, the higher education sector is administered by the Federal Minister of Science and Research and the Federal Minister for Education, the Arts and Culture. Austria’s higher education has a large number of high quality tertiary education institutions in all nine federal provinces, which are recognized worldwide for research, creativity and innovation. Austria provides a broad range of educational options and is recognised for academic excellence around the globe. Therefore, Austria is a perfect place for studying and livelihood.

Types of Higher Education Institutions in Austria

Austria consists of five types of institutions:
  • Universities: The Federal Minister of Science and Research and the university councils administer the public universities in Austria.
  • Universities of the Arts: Austria’s universities of arts provide program in music, applied, performing and fine arts as well as in the visual arts and design.
  • Private Universities: The Accreditation Council (OAR) manages and regulates the Private Universities in Austria. This council works under the supervision of the Federal Minister of Science and Research. All legal provisions are governed by the University Accreditation Act. Austrian private universities offer innovative and high quality education.
  • Universities of Applied Sciences: The Universities of Applied Sciences are administered by the Fachhochschule Council (FH Council). Universities of Applied Sciences offer students a professional-oriented higher education.
  • University Colleges of Teacher Education: The Austrian University Colleges of Teacher Education provide a three-year Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree. It consists of 6 semesters.

Degree Structure

Austria provides various degree programs, including:
  • Bachelor's degree: Admittance to Bachelor programs is based on the Reifeprufung Certificate or Matura.
  • Master's degrees: Admission to Master course is based on a completed Bachelor program. Master program is for 1 to 2 years and require a master thesis and conclude with a Master examination (Magisterprufung).
  • Doctoral or PhD degree: Doctoral studies are only offered by universities require a minimum of four semesters. Admission is based on a completed Master course at a university or a university of applied sciences. To receive the title of Doktor / Doktorin, students are required to submit a dissertation approved by at least two professors and an examining Commission, and pass the final oral exam. 

Educational Facts and Figures

Austria boasts a comprehensive network of tertiary educational institutions. In winter term 2013, the total number of students is about 282,500 of whom 70,000 are international students.
Presently, there are 22 Austrian universities, 21 universities of applied sciences, 6 Universities of the Arts and 12 private universities (February 2014).

Laws Governing Higher Education

Decree: Danube University Act, 2004
Decree:  University of Applied Sciences Studies Act, 1993
Deals: Universities of Applied Sciences
Decree:  Union of Student Act, 1998
Deals: Student Unions
Statute:  University Accreditation Act, 1999
Deals: Private Universities
Decree:  Universities Act, 2002
Deals: Universities

Academic Year

The academic year in Austria starts on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. It consists of:  winter semester that starts on October 1st and ends on January 30th, and summer semester that starts on March 1st and ends on September 30th.

Admission Requirements

Most of the courses at Austrian higher education institutions are taught in German so proficiency in the language is a must. Admission requirements vary for each university, so contact your chosen institution directly. The point of contact is the admissions office or international office at the institution. Universities of the arts, universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education require students to pass an entrance exam or get evidence of a relevant professional qualification, such as an undergraduate degree or other degree as per the level of study.

Financial Aid

There are many grants and scholarships available to students who study in Austria. To know more about the grants for both Austrian and international students, visit OEAD Grants
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