Join the 87,000 international students currently studying in Austria, and enjoy a high standard of living, low tuition fees and embrace the country’s rich cultural history
The general cost of living in Austria is low when compared to other European Union (EU) countries, which is good news for students who want some spare cash to spend on discovering their new home.
Situated in the heart of Europe, Austria is famous for its culture, particularly in the arts. As a student you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of art exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances and festivals, usually at a discounted rate. If the great outdoors is more your thing, the country’s mountainous landscape caters for sporting types, particularly those with a taste for skiing, hiking and climbing.
Vienna is Austria’s capital and by far its biggest city, accounting for around a fifth of the country’s population. While it has a big student community, Vienna isn’t the only place you should look to continue your studies – other popular destinations include Graz, Innsbruck, Linz and Salzburg.
Five different types of institution offer postgraduate degrees in Austria. These include:
- Public universities offer a full range of higher education courses. Lecturers are continuously carrying out academic research.
- Private universities are more autonomous. Lecturers are free to design their own courses, and the institution is able to set its own fees and manage admissions.
- Teacher training colleges specifically offer postgraduate teaching courses, as the name suggests.
- Universities of applied sciences (UAS) offer students courses with a vocational focus, through work placements, internships and profession-based learning.
- Universities of the arts are for students who wish to study music, drama, film, fine arts or applied arts.
Five of Austria’s universities appear in the top 500 of the QS World University Rankings 2020. Austria’s oldest institution, the University of Vienna (154th), ranks the highest and is followed by:
- Vienna University of Technology (192nd)
- Universität Innsbruck (266th)
- Graz University of Technology (311th)
- Johannes Kepler University Linz (412th).
In Austria the academic year consists of two semesters, the winter semester (1 October to 30 January) and the summer semester (1 March to 30 September).
Degree courses in Austria
Most Austrian universities have now adopted the three-tier system of a Bachelors, Masters and PhD, but you’ll find that some institutions still offer the Diploma Programme or Magister qualification – especially in the fields of medicine and engineering.
The traditional two-tier structure combines undergraduate and Masters study meaning that a longer period of study is required – usually between four and six years.
However, it is being phased out in favour of courses that comply with the Bologna Process – an agreement between European countries to offer comparability in standards of teaching and quality of qualifications across Europe. This overhaul means Austrian qualifications are directly comparable to those gained in the UK.
To be admitted onto an undergraduate course in Austria, you’ll generally need a high school leaving certificate or equivalent, as well as proof of your proficiency in German – it’s the country’s official language, and you’ll find the majority of undergraduate courses are taught in German. You may be required to take a German language test and sit an entrance exam.
Visit studienwahl.at to search for Bachelors degrees in Austria.
Compared to undergraduate level, you’ll find a wider selection of Masters programmes taught in English.
They’re available in a range of subjects, measured in semesters and will usually take two to four semesters (two years) to complete. As part of your programme you’ll study a combination of core and optional modules and will be assessed through written assignments, practical projects, examinations and the completion of a dissertation, which you’ll likely need to provide a spoken defence for.
To be accepted onto a postgraduate course you’ll need a Bachelors degree in a relevant subject. In addition to this, you may also have to pass an entrance exam – contact your institution to find out more before applying. Deadlines may seem lenient – with some application posts opening a full academic year before the course starts – but the process can take months and it’s advisable to apply as soon as you’re sure you’d like to study here.
The highest level of qualification available, PhDs are predominantly delivered at public universities and can be studied in both English and German.
You can expect to complete research towards a thesis over three years, which you’ll present to an examination committee before taking their questions. As part of the course, you’ll also receive training towards completing your thesis in areas such as research methods, completing a literature review and additional help with analysing statistics and applying them to your work.
To apply, you’ll need to submit a completed application form along with official transcripts of past qualifications, degree certificates, reference letters and an accompanying personal statement.
UK students can study in Austria by taking part in Erasmus+ (confirmed for the 2020/21 year), the EU’s programme supporting education, training, youth and sport in Europe. The scheme offers study, training and work experience placements to help you develop personally and professionally.
Opportunities are open to students at Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate levels, and those who’ve graduated within the past year. Placements can last anywhere from three months to one academic year.
Financial support to help with travel and living costs is available through the Erasmus+ grant. You’ll apply for this through your university or college.
Your university must have a formal agreement with a partner university in Austria. Check that your institution is involved in the programme and offers the Erasmus+ scheme in your subject. To learn more about the scheme and to apply for a placement, speak to the Erasmus+ coordinator at your university.
Compared to other European countries, international students enjoy incredibly low tuition fees in Austria – with some paying no tuition fees at all.
This is as long as you complete the course you’re enrolled on in its prescribed time, or within the buffer phase of two additional semesters. If you exceed this time frame, you’ll be required to pay €363.36 (£302) per semester as a UK, EU or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen.
If you’re from outside the UK, EU or EEA, this fee rises to €726.72 (£605) per semester.
Universities of applied sciences, however, are entitled to charge fees of €363.36 (£302) per year, while private universities and teacher education courses are able to stipulate their own fees. Check with your institution to see what fees may apply to you.
Wherever you opt to study in Austria, you’ll be liable to pay a small fee for students’ union membership, typically around €20 (£16.50) per semester. This compulsory fee also covers your student accident insurance.
Funding to study in Austria
While you’ll be hard pushed to find funding to cover your fees entirely, there are plenty of scholarships available to suit your needs and subsidise your living and study costs.
You might find funding opportunities with your chosen university. These are typically merit or needs-based – contact the university directly to see if they can help you.
Alternatively, visit the OeAD database – Austria’s leading resource for scholarships and research grants – to see what’s available for you.
Another way to fund your studies in Austria is to find a job. While your residence permit should allow for this, as an international student you may run into some restrictions, so it’s a good idea to double-check this before you start looking for work.
If you’re a student from the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland, you won’t need a visa to study in Austria. As long as you have valid health insurance and can prove that you’ll have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay, all you need is a valid travel document such as your passport or ID card.
As a student, it’s likely that you’ll be intending to stay for longer than three months. If this is the case, you’ll need to obtain a residence permit within four months of arrival.
If you’re from outside the UK, EU, EEA or Switzerland, you’ll need an entry or residence permit to enter Austria. For students, the rules and procedures differ depending on the length of your stay and whether you need to sit an entrance examination.
How to apply
You’ll submit your application directly to the university you’re hoping to join. Some institutions offer online applications, while for others you’ll have to download an application form and apply by post.
The application process can be lengthy, in some cases taking up to six months, so you’re encouraged to apply as early as possible to allow time for your application to be processed.
If you want to study for a Masters, you should aim to apply during the summer prior to your course – or even in the final year of undergraduate study.
Austrians are strict about administrative procedures – deadlines are non-negotiable and you should make sure you’ve supplied the correct documents.
For entry onto a Masters you’ll need:
- a degree certificate
- official transcripts of courses
- proof of German language proficiency to the course’s stipulated level
- a copy of your passport.
You may also have to supply a personal statement, CV or portfolio or sit entrance examinations, depending on where you study. Find out more from your chosen institution.
As it’s the country’s official language, it’s unsurprising that the majority of undergraduate university courses in Austria are taught in German. However there are more English-speaking courses available at postgraduate level, particularly on courses with the most international reach – such as media, marketing and business-related subjects.
Despite this, to fully integrate and participate in student life, it’s best to have some working knowledge of German.
You may be required to prove your competency in German to a B2 or C1 standard on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. You can do this by taking the Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD) – the country’s officially-recognised examination system for German as a foreign language. You can take the ÖSD at centres in more than 45 countries around the world.
There’s also the option to study an intensive German course as part of the University Preparation Programme, if you’ve not yet proven your proficiency in the language.
Austria is one of the most auspicious countries when it comes to the field of study. Offering high ranked worldwide education institutes, Austria is indeed a chance to be availed immediately. Given its concerns about the international students, Austria has a comparatively friendly tuition fee system and has managed to attract many international students with its lenient study requirements.
If you too desire to study in Austria, here we provide you with all that you need in order to do so.
Requirements for Study in Austria
In order to apply for any study, program in Austria, you have to send your application for the study program and the required documents to the university or to the UAS (University of applied sciences Fachhochschule) or the UAS degree program, either would do keeping in mind what is required by the study field.
These applications will then be forwarded to the education institutions by the Austrian authorities. However, it is crucial to make sure that your applications arrive on time. Some Austrian educational institutes even offer the online mode of application submission and the regarding details are then sent through e-mail.
Standard Application Deadlines:
There are a standard set of non-extendable deadlines drawn out to ensure that all applications are received on time shall be processed within the waiting limits. For that, it is necessary for the applicants to send in their applications and requests as earliest as possible. The following are the enlisted deadlines;
- The required documentation needs to be received by the Austrian University by the 1st of September and 1st of February for the winter and summer semesters respectively. It is to be noted that these closing dates are non-extendable under any circumstance and when an applicant is unable to provide their applications after this would have to send in again for the next session. Hence early submissions are important
- However, in the case for Austrian nationals and EU/EEA member countries and Swiss residents, the dates of submission are those which are required by the specified chosen universities and educational institutes for the applications of international students are sent directly to the UAS which then send them to the targeted institutes. For the mentioned nationals, mid of October and mid of March are most commonly the deadlines. However, the specific deadlines depend individually on the specific educational institutes.
- A few institutes such as the Medical universities, Universities of arts and UAS degree programs require an entrance exam by the candidates for which students must be extra vigilant.
The necessary required Documents:
The following requirement for study in Austria are absolutely necessary for the admission in the known Austrian educational institutes;
- Application form for the admission: it is the first and the most critically essential step for any candidate to apply for higher education in the institutes of Austria. Most of the universities have provided their relevant application forms online on their websites from where they can be easily downloaded and filled up.
- Nationality: the proof of the candidate’s nationality is also an important requirement. This can include a copy of the original Identity Card along with a few passports sized photos and the candidate’s passport (if required).
- Specific institute’s entrance requirements: for study programs such as the Bachelor and Diploma studies, the secondary certificate of school leaving is required. For post-graduate or master’s degree, the required documentation of the previous degree is important, in this case, which is a certificate of clearing the applicant’s bachelors studies. However, for the Master’s degree study, diploma, master’s certificate of clearance is required to be submitted along with the application of the admissions.
All the foreign documentation by the international student’s need to be submitted along with an original copy and it must be certified or legalized for authenticity, otherwise, the application can be refused.
There are a few institutes which do not ask for a specific institute’s entrance tests but instead a more generalized entrance test on the basis of which, the institutes approve the candidates.
Once all the required details, information, and documents required are submitted, the process may take a while but the educational institutes will send in e-mails to inform whether you have been able to qualify for their institute or not.
The Scoop on Student Visas
If you intend to stay in Austria for more than 90 but less than 180 days as a student AND you are neither an EU nor an EFTA citizen, you need a national Austrian visitor visa (Visa D). The Visa D entitles you to stay up to 90 days within 6 months in the other Schengen countries. Stays for 6 months and above require a Residence Permit.
In addition to all documents needed to apply for Visa D or Residence Permit, your host University may issue you a letter which confirms your participation, housing, and verification of health insurance once you arrive on site. You will need to have this letter and be sure to show proof of health insurance to obtain your visa.
Visa applications should ideally be submitted at least 3-4 weeks prior to departure. See the Austrian Consulate’s Website for the most current information.
In Austria, students enroll in one or more field of studies, in which they are expected to graduate after four to six years. Degrees in the humanities, economic and social sciences, law and natural sciences are called the Magister. Degrees in engineering and agriculture are the Diplom-Ingenieurs. Recently in accordance with the Bologna process, many universities have begun to introduce a Bachelor degree.
- The academic calendar in Austria runs from approximately September/October to January/February and February/March to June.
- Students might not have homework, tests and quizzes all year, but one large final exam at the end of the semester to determine a final grade.
- Transcripts are not always issued at the end of the semester, so you should be sure to follow all necessary procedures and save all work to be sure to get credit.
Social Life Beyond the Classroom
Austrian universities offer myriad opportunities to get involved in social circles outside of the classroom. Whether you’re interested in Alpine skiing, or big bass band, finding a group of students on campus who share your similar interests is a great way to make friends.
Do an Internship – There’s no better way to gain real hands-on work experience. Consider an internship for a chance to work with in an international environment and hone your foreign language skills to sharpen up any resume!
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