1. Higher education in Austria

1.1 Austrian higher education system

Every year around 70,000 international students come to study in Austria.

The Austrian higher education system consists of Universities and Fachhochschulen (or Universities of Applied Sciences).

There are 19 Fachhochschulen in Austria. Like in Germany, the Fachhochschulen are more practice-orientated and their degrees include mandatory internships. Opportunities taught entirely in English do exist but are limited. All degrees at Fachhochschulen include mandatory internships.

There are 22 public universities in Austria, including five medical universities that are run as completely separate institutions. In other countries, these universities would ordinarily be a faculty within a wider university. There are also 11 private universities in Austria at this time.

Public universities are generally comprehensive and offer a wide range of choice in a variety of faculties. These include:

  • University of Vienna
  • Technical University of Vienna (TU Wien)
  • Vienna University of Economics & Business (WU)
  • Montanuniversitaet Leoben
  • Johannes Kepler Universitaet Linz
  • University of Graz
  • University of Innsbruck
  • University of Salzburg
  • Alpen-Adria Universitaet (Klagenfurt)

Private universities are usually more focused on a particular area of expertise, for example, music and the performing arts, health sciences or business. Examples offering postgraduate education in English include:

  • Konservatorium Wien (Music)
  • MODUL University Vienna (Business and Management)
  • Sigmund Freud University (Psychotherapy)
  • Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg (Medicine)
  • Danube Private University Krems (Dentistry)
  • Central European University (Liberal Arts)

The academic year can be either structured like the UK system with three terms or two semesters. This is subject to the university/fachhochschule chosen.

1.2 Entry requirements for Austrian universities

Successful completion of your A-levels is a must. However, which subjects and grades you need varies across universities and courses. Many universities select new students through their own entrance exams and interviews, so good A level results alone may not be enough to earn you a place.

1.3 Application process for Austrian universities

There is no centralised university application system in Austria, so you must apply directly to every Austrian university/fachhochschule you wish you attend.

Most Austrian universities require candidates to fill out an online application form as the first step of the admission process. You must then submit the hard copies of your academic transcripts and other supplement documents as requested to the university.

If your application stands out, you will be invited to complete an admission test and/or an interview. If applying to arts and design universities, you should prepare a portfolio to bring with you to the interview. For music and performing arts institutions, it's almost certain that you will be asked to give an audition as part of the admission procedure.

After you have completed the entire admission procedure, you will be informed about the result as soon as possible.

Application deadlines vary across universities but usually fall between November and March for September start. British candidates may benefit from extended deadlines (usually until June), but only when there are still places left after the regular application period. You should check the website of your chosen university during the summer to find out when their application opens and closes for next year's intake.

1.4 Accreditation and recognition

The Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria) acts as an agency for quality assurance for Austrian higher education institutions.

This organisation is responsible for overseeing the quality of all Austrian universities (except the University Colleges of Teacher Training). However, the main responsibility for quality assurance remains with individual higher education institutions.

Public universities all operate their own accreditation and quality assurance. AQ Austria’s procedures do not replace those of the universities themselves. Private universities periodically have to apply for reaccreditation.

2. How much does it cost to study in Austria?

2.1 Tuition fees

Tuition fees at universities are zero for EU passport holders.

In general, the tuition fee is €363.36 per semester or €726.72 per year at fachhochschulen. Some fachhochschulen do not charge tuition fees.

For private institutions, tuition fees can vary. Prices can be as low as €6,000 per year, or as high as 48,000 per year,but most Austrian private universities charge students from €12,000 to €20,000 per year.

Fees for British and other non-EU passport holders can be higher but are usually reasonable and in 2020/21 are usually just under €1,500 per year.

2.2 Loans and grants

There are no tuition fee loans available for EU students at Austrian Universities. You will be expected to pay the tuition fees upfront.

You may also find that individual institutions have specific funding available but you will need to check with them directly.

Although there is no direct support available to British students in Austria, you can benefit from a range of student discounts that apply to anyone of whatever nationality.

2.3 Cost of living

In the following table, you will find an estimate of the monthly living costs for students. The figures only serve as a guideline. Accommodation costs are based on a place in a student hall of residence.

Accommodation (including heating and electricity) €400
Food (excluding luxuries and tobacco) €250
Study and personal requirements, books, culture, recreation €300
Total €950

These are the figures provided by the Austrian government and they show that Austria can be a relatively expensive destination. We would imagine that study in major cities such as Vienna could easily cost more than this.

3. Student life in Austria

3.1 How do I get a visa to study in Austria?

Austria is part of the EU hence you currently do not need a visa if you have an EU passport. British students are advised to follow the advice of the Austrian government with regard to visa requirements from 2021 onwards.

As a student, you are required to register with the local authority (Fremdenbehörde) because the duration of the stay is longer than 3 months.

3.2 Accommodation

The Austrian government has a limited number of rooms available in most university towns and cities. You can see if there is anything suitable for you here. It is unclear whether these rooms are available to international students who choose to study independently in Austria or only those who are participating in exchanges or other institutional relationships.

Most international students will find accommodation in the private rental sector.

3.3 Health Insurance

Students from EU/EEA countries, who are in possession of valid health insurance in their home country, need the European Health Insurance Card.

3.4 On Arrival

In Austria, it is compulsory to register with the municipal authorities (Meldeamt: Gemeindeamt, Magistratisches Bezirksamt) within three working days of entering the country.

For this, you need a registration form (Meldezettel) available from the registration offices or from the Internet, which must be completed by you and signed by your landlord/landlady (if you are staying in a hostel when you first arrive this will be taken care of on your behalf). A change of address also has to be reported to the registration office within 3 working days. Please do not forget to inform the registration office when you leave Austria.

Nationals of EU/EEA countries and Swiss nationals have to additionally apply for a confirmation of registration (Anmeldebescheinigung) if they stay in Austria for more than 3 months.

3.5 Can I work there as a student?

After registering with your local ‘Fremdenbehörde’, you are allowed to work in Austria. The regulations governing British nationals' right to work in Austria have not yet been updated to take into account any changes since the UK's departure from the European Union. British passport holders should contact the Austrian authorities directly if they are intending to work alongside their studies.

Universities in Austria

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.