STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION SYSTEM
Duration of compulsory education:
Age of entry: 6
Age of exit: 15
Structure of school system:
Type of school providing this education: Volksschule, Sonderschule
Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 6 to: 10
Type of school providing this education: Hauptschule, Allgemein bildende höhere Schulen, Gymnasium
Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 10 to: 14
Type of school providing this education: Allgemein bildende höhere Schulen, Gymnasium
Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 14 to: 18
Certificate/diploma awarded: Reifeprüfung/Matura
Type of school providing this education: Berufsbildende höhere Schulen (Handelsakademie, Höhere technische Lehranstalt, Höhere land- und forstwirtschaftliche Lehranstalt)
Length of program in years: 5
Age level from: 14 to: 19
Certificate/diploma awarded: Reifeprüfung/Matura
Primary education lasts for four years. Secondary education is divided into lower secondary school, which lasts for four years, and upper secondary school, which lasts for four or five years. At lower secondary level, there are three options: Volkschule (rare), Hauptschule (general secondary) and Allgemein bildende höhere Schulen (academic secondary) divided into Gymnasium (general), Realgymnasium (Science-based) and Wirtschaftskundlisches Realgymnasium (Home Economics). Upper secondary education lasts for four or five years. There are four types of Allgemeinbildende höhere Schulen: Gymnasium, Realgymnasium, Wirtschaftskundliches Realgymnasium and Oberstufen-Realgymnasium. Vocational secondary education lasts five years. All streams lead to the Reifeprüfung/Matura, which gives access to higher education. In 1997, the Berufsreifeprüfung (Vocational Certificate) was introduced. It gives access to university and Fachhochschule programmes. Apprentices will be able to sit for an examination giving access to higher education. A law to this effect has been approved by the National Council. The new Secondary Technical and Vocational Certificate is designed for apprentices who successfully sit for their final apprenticeship examination and for those completing vocational colleges, including Nursing Colleges and Technical Medical Colleges.
In Austria, higher education is provided by universities (including the universities of the arts) and Fachhochschulen which were introduced in 1994. There are also Academies (e.g. Teacher Training Colleges). The 1993 University Reform redefined the relationships of the universities and the State. The universities remain state institutions and the State continues to finance them. Universities are free to handle their internal affairs and formulate their statutes. The law provides for the establishment of a university board (Universitätsbeirat) at each institution which comprises leading figures from public life and the private sector. It also provides for the University Curatorium which is responsible for providing the Federal Minister of Education, Science and Culture with expert opinion on issues of university policy and launching evaluation measures that pertain to the university sector as a whole. The University Assembly elects the rectors. The Ministry assumes a predominantly supervisory function and continues to be responsible for strategic planning and research. The 1997 Universities Studies Act establishes which degree programmes may be introduced at universities and regulates admissions and the award of academic degrees. In 1998, a law was passed which reorganised the Schools of Art and Music into universities of the arts. In 1999, the university Accreditation Act was enacted which allows private institutions to obtain accreditation as a Private University by an autonomous board, the Accreditation Council.
Main laws/decrees governing higher education:
Decree: DUK-Gesetz (Act on the Postgraduate Danube University of Krems) Year: 1994
Concerns: Danube University Krems (postgraduate)
Decree: Fachhochschul-Studiengesetz (Fachhochschule Studies Act) Year: 1993
Concerns: Fachhochschule programmes
Decree: Kunstuniversitäten-Organisationsgesetz (Universities of the Arts Organization Act) Year: 1998
Concerns: Universities of the arts
Decree: Universitäts Studiengesetz (University Studies Act) Year: 1997
Concerns: Studies at Universities
Decree: Universitäts-Akkreditierungsgesetz (University Accreditation Act) Year: 1999
Concerns: Accreditation of Private Universities
Decree: Universitäts-Organisationsgesetz (University Organization Act) Year: 1993
Classes from: Oct to: Jun
Languages of instruction: German
Stages of studies:
Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):
The following schools offer courses to holders of the Reifeprüfung: Akademie für Sozialarbeit (Social Work), Speziallehrgänge (Technology, Economics, Tourism and Catering), Kollegs (Tourism and Catering, Commerce and Technology), Schulen für gehobene medizinisch-technische Dienste (medical laboratory technicians and related occupations). These institutions are administered by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. The Academy of Administration for the Training of Public Servants falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal Chancellery. The Diplomatic Academy is a special educational institution under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some intermediate and higher vocational schools also provide evening classes for working people.
University level studies:
University level first stage: Bakkalaureus, Bakkalaureus (FH):
Bachelor (Bakkalaureus) programmes have only been introduced in a few fields of study. The universities or Fachhochschulen respectively are free to split diploma programmes into Bachelor and Master programmes. Access to Bachelor programmes is based on the Reifeprüfung/Matura or on the Studienberechtigungsprüfung for non-secondary school leavers. There are two kinds of academic programmes: degree programmes (ordentliche Studien), which lead to the first academic degree, and university course programmes (Universitätslehrgänge) which lead to a Certificate. Bachelor studies last for 6-8 semesters, require at least two Bachelor essays and end with a Bachelor examination (Bakkaureatsprüfung). They lead to the academic degree of Bakkalaureus/Bakkalaurera. Access to Fachhochschule Bachelor programmes is based on the Reifeprüfung/Matura or on the Studienberechitigungsprüfung for non-secondary school leavers, or on a relevant professional qualification in combination with certain additional examinations in subjects of general education. The Fachhochschule Bachelor programmes last for six semesters, including one practical training semester. They lead to the academic degree of Bakkalaureus (FH)/Bakkalaurera (FH).
University level second stage: Magister, Magister (FH), Diplom-Ingenieur, Diplom-Ingenieur (FH):
Access to university diploma programmes (I.e. programmes which are not preceded by a Bachelor programme) is based on the Reifeprüfung/Matura or on the Studienberechtigungsprüfung for non-secondary school leavers. There are two kinds of academic programmes: degree programmes (ordentliche Studien) which lead to an academic degree and university course programmes (Universitätslehrgänge) which lead to a Certificate. Diploma programmes are divided into two or three (Medicine) stages. Each stage of the first degree concludes with a diploma examination (Diplomprüfung; Medicine: Rigorosum) consisting of one or more required subjects. Degree programmes (ordentliche Studien) also require a diploma thesis or a corresponding piece of documentation. The prescribed duration of study for the majority of degree programmes is between eight and ten semesters and twelve semesters for General, Dental and Veterinary Medicine and many programmes in the Arts. Diploma programmes lead to the academic degree of Magister/Magistra, in Engineering to the Diplom-Ingenieur/Diplom-Ingenierin, in Medicine to the Doktor/t.in der gesamten Heilkunde, i.e. MD. Access to Fachhochschule diploma programmes is based on the Reifeprüfung/Matura or on the Studienberechtigungsprüfung for non-secondary school leavers, or on a relevant professional qualification in combination with certain additional examinations in subjects of general education. The Fachhochschule diploma programmes last for 7 to 8 semesters, including one practical training semester. They lead to the academic degree of Magister (FH)/Magistra (FH), in Engineering to the Diplom-Ingenieur (FH)/Diplom Ingenieurin (FH).Access to university Master programmes (i.e. programmes which are preceded by a Bachelor programme) is based on a completed Bachelor programme. There are two kinds of academic programmes: degree programmes (ordentliche Studien) which lead to the second academic degree and university course programmes (Universitätslehrgänge) which lead to an Advanced Master's degree (e.g. MAS,MBA, LLM). Master programmes last for 1-2 years and require a master thesis and end with a Master examination (Magisterprüfung). They lead to the academic degree of Magister/Magistra, in Engineering to the Diplom-Ingenieur/Diplom-Ingenieurin. Fachhochschule Master programmes, which are organized in a similar way to university Master programmes, lead to the academic degree of Magister (FH)/Magistra (FH) and in Engineering to the Diplom-Ingenieur (FH)/Diplom Ingenieurin (FH)
University level third stage: Doktoratstudien:
Doctoral studies generally require a minimum of four semesters. Access is based on a completed Diploma or Master programme at a university or a Fachhochschule (in the latter case, the doctoral programme is 2 semesters longer). They demand greater independence from students in their scientific work. Doctoral candidates are required to present a thesis approved by at least two professors and an examining Commission, and pass the final oral examination (Rigorosum). They are then awarded the title of Doktor/Doktorin. Universities of the arts may confer a limited number of Doctoral degrees.
University level fourth stage: Habilitation:
The Habilitation is acquired within the university system and is based on special research achievements after the Doctorate and production of a research monograph. It is awarded with the title Universitätsdozent. This is not an academic degree, but a special university qualification.
Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers
Primary-school teachers are trained in three years, at post-secondary level, in Pädagogische Akademien (Teacher Training Colleges), each of which is attached to a practical school. Candidates must pass an aptitude test and at the end of their studies they must pass a Lehramtsprüfung.
Training of secondary school teachers
Secondary-school teachers, except for Hauptschulen, are trained at university. The minimum duration of studies for the award of a teaching qualification is nine semesters, including a practical training period. On completion, students sit for the second Diplomprüfung in their major subject and are then conferred the degree of Magister/Magistra. They must, moreover, have one year's work experience as a probationary teacher (Unterrichtspraktikum).
Training of higher education teachers
After completing their diploma or master degree, most university teachers begin their career as university assistants (Universitätsassistent/inn/en) and acquire the additional qualifications necessary for advancement (Doctorate, Habilitation). The University Organization Act of 1993 transferred the final selection of candidates to the rectors of the individual universities. Appointment as a professor requires a Habilitation or a commensurate form of scholarly, scientific or artistic qualification and a "call" (Berufung) by the responsible organs of the university. The terms of employment as a professor are "definitive" (tenured), with the exception of the recently introduced category of contract professors whose contracts are limited to a maximum of two five-year periods.
Distance higher education
Distance education (Fernstudien) has been provided since 1979 by the Interuniversitäres Forschungsinstitut für Fernstudien. This Institute has links with all major Austrian universities and offers special courses for adults seeking employment. The programmes which have been developed so far are courses in Applied Mathematics, Energy Counselling, Teacher Training and Psychotherapy. While these programmes are being developed, students may study at the Fernuniversität Hagen, which offers normal degree courses in Economics, Law, Social Sciences, Education and Management. Students at the Fernuniversität Hagen living in Austria may turn to the centres in Linz, Bregenz and Vienna for technical and social advice. The courses offered in cooperation with the Fernuniversität Hagen include Business Management, Economics, Mathematics, Informatics, Electrical Engineering, Educational Sciences, Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Literature, History and Social Behavioural Sciences. Some 2,000 students are currently making use of this facility. There is a similar study centre at the Open University London located in Vienna. Under the University Studies Act, Austrian universities may set up distance study courses. Furthermore there are special regulations as far as the admission, the documentation and the examination for distance studies are concerned
Lifelong higher education
Austrian universities welcome senior citizens as students (Seniorenstudium). Courses, degrees and conditions of admission are the same as for younger students.
Other forms of non-formal higher education
In addition to the degree studies, universities offer a wide variety of university courses (Universitätslehrgänge), some of them leading to the Diploma ("Akademischer....") or, in qualified cases, the academic degrees Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or Master Legum (LL.M.).
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