Austria Education System

  • Schooling
  • Special education
  • Other types of school
  • University, College
  • Tertiary Education
  • Adult education



Schooling is compulsory for nine years in Austria (from age six to 15, first to ninth grade).

The first four years of compulsory education are completed in primary schools (Volksschule or Grundschule); from age ten children can attend either a junior high school or secondary school (Hauptschule, or Kooperative Mittelschule), or in certain provinces, e.g. Vienna, a ‘new middle school’ (Neue Mittelschule) (educational experiment) or the lower grades of a higher general secondary school (allgemeinbildende höhere Schule (AHS) also called Gymnasium). All school types comprise four educational levels.

The ninth school year (age 14-15) can be completed at a polytechnic school (Polytechnische Schule) (a school emphasizing vocational orientation and preparation for an apprenticeship) or in other types of school.


Special education

There are also special schools for disabled children or children with special educational needs (e.g. severe learning difficulties, etc.) for the first eight to nine years of their school education (e.g. special needs schools (Sonderschule) and special pedagogical centres (Sonderpädagogisches Zentrum)). In many cases, however, these children are also educated alongside others in standard schools in ‘integration classes’.


Other types of school

Intermediate vocational schools (from age 14, 9th-11th or 12th school grades) conclude with a technical examination; higher vocational schools (from age 14, 9th-13th school grade) conclude with a technical examination and the general school-leaving examination (Matura). 
On leaving vocational schools, pupils may have qualified for one or more professions or occupations.

The higher general secondary school and grammar school (from age 14, 9th-12th school grades) also conclude with the general school-leaving examination (Matura).


The diagram is showing the Austrian Education System:



University, College

The Matura (school-leaving examination) is the prerequisite for higher education (university, academy, technical university, college). Qualified school-leavers from intermediate vocational schools or qualified apprentices can prepare for university entrance by way of the vocational qualifying examination (Berufsreifeprüfung or Berufsmatura). Qualified school-leavers from junior secondary schools (Hauptschule) or pupils who have dropped out can do so by way of the study entitlement examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung).

In Austria there is a variety of course options in technical studies, humanities, arts and other fields of study. Technical universities offer practical training, facilitating direct access to a profession. Higher education colleges (pädagogische Hochschule) offer training for teachers at primary schools, secondary schools, special schools and polytechnic schools.


Tertiary Education

Some fees are charged for tertiary education although bursaries are fairly generously available too. There are 12 Austrian Universities as well as a large variety of technical colleges. In a country where education was once only for the elite and ruling classes everybody these days enjoys an equal opportunity. 


Adult education

In Austria there are also general and vocational colleges and technical universities and university courses for working people which are offered as evening classes.

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