Education system in Austria


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Is there a compulsory school education in Austria?

Since 2010 it is compulsory to send your child for one year to kindergarden.
It is compulsory for all children to attend school for nine years, from six – 15 years: four years primary school, following another four years secondary school (which is either the so-called Neue Mittelschule or lower grade of a grammar school). Being on average 14 years old, pupils can decide to either continue school or to start a vocational training. To start a vocational education you have to go for one year to the Polytechnische Schule to end compulsory education of nine years. The other option is to continue school for four or five more years ending with the Matura, an A-level (upper grade of grammar school or higher vocational school). The Matura qualifies for academic studies at university.

How can I lean a profession on a more practical way?

Vocational training: The practical vocational training starts after the 9 compulsary years of school. During vocational training  (of a certain profession) the pupil still attends a vocational school. It is generally possible for Austrians to do vocational trainings at any age. Although the average age to start vocational training is around 15 years, there are also adults who start a new career path with a vocational training.

Which options are there to get an A-level degree?

In order to complete school education with an A-level („Matura“), there are a few options:
Having been to primary and secondary school (8 years) you can continue grammar school for another four years graduating with an A-level. This upper grade of grammar school is called „Gymnasium“ or „Allgemeinbildende Höhere Schule“  (AHS). It is common that these pupils attend university or college of higher education afterwards.

After the 8 years of primary and secondary schools you can also decide to attend a higher vocational school which is referred to as „Berufsbildende Höhere Schule“ (BHS).  There are different curricula depending if you choose a technical or economical focus for example. These schools require five years. At the end you graduate with a profession and A-level. The difference of this concept to the vocational training is that during the higher vocational school the focus is on knowledge, practical experience put in the background. Regarding the vocational training this aspect is vice verca, the opposite.

How to be able to study at university?

Matura/A-Level is required to become a university student.
It is possible to do an exam that allows those who do not have the Matura/general qualification to enter University. Depending on the subject of Universitiy studies qualifying exams are required.

Any other options after the first educational path?

For adults who want to take a second educational path there are special courses, which offer a degree as well. Courses often take place in the evenings to be able to attend while working during the day.

Are there schools for people with a handicap?

Concerning children with disabilities there are special schools for mentally or physically handicapped children.

Which costs are involved in education?

The one year of compulsary kindergarten plus the nine years of compulsory education are free of charge. Regarding further education it depends if the school is a public or private school; private schools are asking for fees. Attending university or colleges of higher education fees have to be paid as well;


Education for TCNs

Children and youth:


It is compulsory to send your child to kindergarden for one year.

To prepare children better for primary school it is advisable to send them to kindergarden for two years, which means with the age of four. There are offers for nursery schools but not compulsory. Many children in Austria go to a nursery school before going to kindergarden.  

It is important to register your child soon in a kindergarden as it may be difficult to get a place. Generally kindergardens have morning or afternoon classes. Parents will be invited to a meeting if they have not registered their child in a kindergarden yet.
Generally kindergardens are open during the general school time during the year with a summer break of two months (July, August) though often they offer care for some periods within the summer school holidays as well.

If a child does not speak German yet or has difficulties with German there are certain  assistance measures, already beginning for kindergarden children. For support of language:



all children from six years old are obliged to go to school for nine years. All children who turn into 6 before August the 31th have to start school September. If your child is older than 15 years, please find out by asking the person of assistance when you arrive in Austria, how your child can continue his/her school education. There are legal consequences if you do not send your child to school. Kindergarden places are limited, therefore it is important to register soon. Public schools are free of charge. Depending on the schools it is possible to attend islamic religion classes.

The school year consists of two semesters: from the beginning of September to the beginning of February and from mid of February to the end of June.

Boys and girls go together to school. As in entire Austria childrens‘ rights  are to be respected, teachers need to fulfill their rights and duties For instance children are not allowed to be hit. Summer school holidays are on for two months. At the end of a school year pupils receive a school report in which efforts of the pupil are judged with marks.

It is not allowed to take your child out of school during the school year. If there is urgent need you have to discuss with the director.

As we have learned from experience being capable of speaking German is essential and is the basis of well-being, of getting along with others, understanding certain concepts. German speaking: if  a child does not speak German yet or has difficulties with German there are certain  assistance measures, already beginning for kindergarden children. Asylum seeking children can attend school as exeptional pupils. This exeptional period may last for two years; during this time children get the option to participate in a beginners’ learning group or a remedial course of eleven hours a week.

Main contact for information (for instance which public schools are nearby) is the office of the municipality of where you live. Further precice information will have to be arranged with the school directly. If your child has attended a school before, it is advisable to take school reports with you.

Concerning children with disabilities there are special schools (for mentally or physically handicapped children) that support.

Kindergardens and schools arrange meetings with parents to discuss important daily issues. It is important to attend these meetings as parents are being involved into caring of their children and it is a good option to conect to other parents.

Costs of compulsory school education: the nine years of compulsory education and the one year of kindergarden, are free of charge. What needs to be paid are costs that involve transport if needed, food for instance lunch, trips that are planned from school, extra activities that may be planned. At the beginning of every school year there are costs for school materials.
Sometimes there is an offer of afternoon care at schools. This is apart of school and needs to be paid.

Vocational training

After ending compuslsory school (15 years old) it is possible to start a vocational training (there are approx. 250 different professions to be learnt via vocational training), that lasts approximately three years. During this education pupils learn a certain profession and still attend a vocational school.  The training ends with an exam resulting in being a certified skilled worker. During the training pupils work alreday for an employee, the pay is not that high, but increased by time.
Generally asylum seekers must not be older than 25 years when starting a vocational training. (In the moment a political debate is ongoing considering the right for asylum seekers to apply for vocational training; it is not clear yet if this option is given the future as well.)

Further options for youths and adults: In order to be able to study at university or college of higher education you need to have good knowledge in the  German language and mostly an A-level-degree or an equivalent examination for entrance-qualification are required. Here is an overview on different courses:

Also as an adult there are various options for further education. Language courses are an example, many are offered in a way that you can attend while working. It is also possible to make a degree. Regarding eduaction of adults there are many public and privat providers. For example check:,,;

If you have started studying at university in your home country, it is generally possible to take up the studies in Austria. For this process though a rather complicated procedure of administration and recognition of already passed exams in your home country is needed.

In order to study in Austria you need to do a preparatory university training programme (Vorstudienlehrgang) proving that your qualifications meet the Austrian standards. Which exams exactly are included in the programme depends on the subject you want to study.

Regarding the attendance of school we would like to emphasize that staying away from school without a certain reason that was agreed on with the teacher, will be seriously dealt with. Recently fines were made legal by law.


Degree equivalency procedure

There are no uniform rules in Austria for formal recognition of qualifications from abroad.
The more certificates from former education you have the better.

The procedure applied for recognising qualifications (degrees) depends on the area for which the qualification is needed. A distinction is made between recognition of professional qualifications, the recognition of school and skilled trade certificates as well as the recognition of academic degrees. Also the country of where the qualification was gained will be taken into account, as there may be specific bilateral agreements. 

As a first step you should find out which is the right application office or advice centre that suits your request. The following link will help:


Further information & links

Federal ministry Europe, Integration and foreign affairs:

ENIC NARIC AUSTRIA: recognition of academic degrees:

Studying in Austria, admittance:



  1. Do TCNs have right to scholarships?

Generally TCNs have a right to apply for scholarships; there are various kinds of scholarships requesting different prerequisites; here are some links for gaining first information:

  1. How long do I have to wait until being enrolled in elementary or secondary school?

After their asylum application has been admitted to the regular procedure asylum seeking children attend primary and secondary school. After verification of the Austrian language, you will be included in an appropriate type and grade of a school that is closest to yours residence, depending on the availability (if classes are not full yet). The exact criteria for the final decision in which grade the child can attend schools depends on the regional superintendent of school, which may vary from province to province.

  1. What should I do, if I don’t have papers/diploma?

If you have completed elementary school and want to enrol in secondary school you may be asked to show officially translated documents or a statement from the notary that counts as a proof for your previous school education. This statement replaces the document from the country of origin which you have not been able to obtain. If you hadn’t completed elementary school you can attend basic adult education.

AUCO 2016, Internationale Organisation für Migration Wien,