Our neighboring country has been a real magnet for students for a long time because the easy access to university and the most free courses are strong arguments for studying in Austria. Since the numerus clausus is not known here and there are only a few limitations, Austria is a welcome alternative to Germany in many subjects. However, Austrian universities are also overcrowded and, as in Germany, financing is a problem, which is why people keep thinking about charging fees. Since many courses are overcrowded, particularly tough exams in the first two semesters ensure more air in the seminar rooms. The professors in Austria are said to hover in other spheres and are sometimes more than conservative.
Advantages of study in Austria
- Study in German
- No numerus clausus
- (yet) no tuition fees
- Easy access to higher education, even without a dream high school diploma
The education system in Austria
In Austria, the federal government is responsible for the school system. Compulsory schooling lasts nine years and, after four years of primary education at elementary school, students can choose whether they want to go to the new middle school, to the Hauptschule, or to a general higher school. If you have completed secondary school, you can either attend the upper school or consider dual vocational training. In the higher education sector, Austrian students can choose from universities, colleges, technical colleges, and teacher training colleges.
In Austria, there are a total of 22 universities, 12 universities of applied sciences, 13 privately run universities, and nine smaller universities of applied sciences that offer courses at universities of applied sciences. As in Germany, the universities in Austria tend to offer more theoretical classes, and although fewer subject areas are offered at the technical colleges, the classes are much more practice-oriented than at the university. Most students in Austria study in Vienna, followed by Graz, Innsbruck, and Salzburg. Austria has its own medical colleges for medicine. But since 2014 you can also study human medicine in Linz.
The most popular majors
Communication sciences and psychology are among the most popular subjects for German students in Austria due to the simple admission procedures, but all other subject areas that are in great demand in Germany are also popular in Austria. In addition to mechanical engineering and business administration, modern courses are increasingly being taken. Above all, departments that are completely overcrowded in Germany are also among the most sought-after subjects in Austria.
The admission requirements
The general higher education entrance qualification is a basic requirement for admission to a university in Austria as well as in Germany. However, it is not absolutely necessary to have a dream high school diploma in order to get a place at a university. An aptitude test only has to be passed in subjects such as mathematics or psychology, otherwise, the admission regulations are very generous, and often one registration is sufficient and you are accepted at the university. However, the simple admission procedure has a catch, because the first two semesters are usually heavily screened and particularly tough exams await you. Since 2013, however, additional admission restrictions have been applied in several areas. Among others, the following disciplines are affected:
- Architecture & spatial planning
- Biology/Molecular Biology
- Business Administration
- International Economics
- computer science
- social science
- economic and legal
living expenses and tuition fees
The cost of living in Austria is roughly the same as in Germany. When renting, you can expect similar prices as at home and the quickest way to find a private place to live is on the bulletin board of the Austrian Students’ Union.
The places in the halls of residence are allocated quickly, as everywhere else, and it makes a lot of sense to apply one semester in advance. The students describe the catering in the canteens of the universities as quite acceptable and you receive a discount from the ÖH, which makes every menu 50 cents cheaper. A total of around 800 euros a month is due for food, rent, and hygiene. If you want to study in Vienna, you should plan around 100 euros more.
Our neighboring country does not have tuition fees and only a contribution of around 18 euros per semester is due for the ÖH. Tuition fees vary greatly at private universities, and universities of applied sciences can also charge up to 363 euros per semester. If you exceed the standard period of study by more than two semesters, fees will be charged. These can amount to up to 363.63 euros per semester.
Funding opportunities and grants
In addition to the well-known financing options such as cheap student loans and foreign BAföG, scholarships are a way of financing your studies in Austria.
>> Tip: Grants.at is the database for scholarships and research funding in Austria and here you will find a lot of information and addresses that can help you.
>> Check the DAAD website for other scholarships
Recognition in Europe and especially in Germany
Since Austria is a member of the EU and has changed its degree programs to the bachelor and master system as part of the Bologna process, there are no major hurdles in the recognition of your qualifications in Europe or especially in Germany. However, there are still a few diploma courses and you should inquire in advance whether your desired course can be recognized without an additional examination.
Although the admission requirements at Austrian universities and colleges have been tightened in recent years, our direct neighbor is still an attractive destination for students. Since the majority of studies are free of charge and there is no numerus clausus, many young Germans want to study in Austria every semester. The education system is similar to the German one and if you don’t want to wait long for a place at home, but would like to start right after graduating from high school, Austria is still a very good alternative.