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What is the school system in Austria?

School system
What is the school system in Austria?

The education system in Austria differs from many countries. Find out about the organization of education in this country during holidays in Austria, and find out what conditions must be met to study at Austrian universities.

Education in Austria – how does it organize?

Austria federals republic made up of 10 independent federal states. In these states are Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna. The most important principles underpinning education in Austria are human rights, justice, openness, democracy, peace, solidarity, and tolerance regardless of material status, race, or social status. The education system in this country remains under state control. Central and regional authorities are responsible for regulating the operation of schools, and the laws they pass are implemented by the administration of individual federal states and parliaments.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture prepares a framework curriculum and then consults it with education authorities at the county and federal level as well as teacher representative organizations. It is also responsible for the organization of the teaching process, private schools, retirement provisions for school staff, and their salaries. In special cases provided for by the Austrian constitution, the central authorities define the general rules and the regional ones define the specific ones

As far as the organization of higher education is concerned, responsibility for the drafting of legislation and its implementation lies with the central authorities.

The obligation to study

Compulsory education in Austria lasts 9 years – four years less than in a school in Germany. It applies to children aged 6 to 15 who live in this country, regardless of their nationality. The education system in Austria also allows homeschooling – the teacher does not need to have any qualifications. However, a student educated outside the school is obliged to sit the exams at the end of the school year. On similar principles, it is also permissible to attend institutions that do not have the authority of a public school. Whether the planned educational goals for a given stage have been achieved is checked by examinations organized in public schools.

The school year in Austria

The school year in Austria lasts approximately 180 days. Depending on the federal state, it starts on the first or second Monday of September and ends on Saturday between 28 and 4 July or between 5 and 11 July. The holidays, therefore, last about two months. In addition, students have a mid-term break in February, as well as Easter, Pentecostal, and Christmas holidays. They usually last from 4 to 10 days, except for the two-week Christmas break.

The Austrian education system assumes that primary school pupils should spend 20 hours a week there. In the case of students of technical and vocational colleges, it is 35 hours a week, or about 7 hours a day. During the school year, 7-year-olds spend 630 hours, 10-year-olds – 750 hours, lower secondary school students – 870 hours, and upper secondary students – 960 hours. Primary school classes are composed of a maximum of 25 children. In the case of secondary schools, this number can increase to 30.

Grading system in Austria and promotion to the next class

The grading system in Austria consists of a five-point scale, with 1 being the highest and 5 being the lowest. It is therefore no different from that at a school in Germany. Grades awards for class attendance, written assignments, oral presentations, graphic and practical works. There are no external examinations in compulsory education. Only primary school pupils take the German language and math tests at the end of the fourth year. Parents receive a grading list at the end of each term and school year.

Promotion to the next class depends on the results in all subjects. The exception is when a student has obtained a fail mark in only one class. Primary school students move from class to class automatically. They can also attend maths or German lessons in a lower or higher level group if this is better for their skills and knowledge.

The education system in Austria – stages

The education system in Austria divides into several stages:

  • Primary school,
  • Lower secondary school,
  • Upper secondary school,
  • Higher education.

Preschool care

Kindergartens and nurseries are not part of the Austrian education system and are not compulsory. Nevertheless, many parents decide to send their children to them because the cost of pre-school care in this country is relatively low. Nurseries are intended for children up to 3 years old, and kindergartens – from 3 to 6 years old. Local authorities are responsible for the formulation and implementation of legal regulations concerning preschool education. They finance about 60 percent. these establishments. In public kindergartens, parents usually pay only for meals. Children from 5 years of age must undergo one year’s preparation for school education. It is free and includes a minimum of 16 hours of lessons per four-day week.

At the same time, there are private nurseries and kindergartens, run by religious communities, private individuals, and associations. Their monthly cost is around 250 euros per month. In Austria, kindergarten groups were established by the parents themselves. The group consists of no more than 15 children. They are cheaper than private institutions because you have to pay around 100 euros for a month of care.

Kindergartens in Austria are based on various forms of alternative education, but all of them emphasize the importance of learning through play.

Primary school

A primary school in Austria lasts for four years. Younger children learn to read, write, count, and search for and process information. The lesson plan of older students also includes subjects such as religion, German, a modern foreign language, history, biology, geography, mathematics, art, music, physical education, manual and technical work, and road safety. Children cooperate and do not immobilize in their desks. Austrian teachers believe that pupils acquire knowledge better when they are on the move. For this reason, many classes introduce movement elements, e.g. when learning hours, children make a clock from their bodies. Students have access to many teaching aids. In the older grades, group work, presentations, and projects are of great importance.

1st and 2nd-degree secondary school

After primary school, pupils continue their education in the general primary school or the lower secondary school with an academic. In the lasts 4 years, the only condition taken into account during recruitment is the completion of primary school. Young people continue to study the same subjects as in primary school, and also undertake additional practical and technical classes. The best students can transfer to AHS.

AHS divides into two four-year phases. A student who wishes to admit to this institution must have good or very good grades in German, Maths, and Reading, and a teacher’s recommendation. Some AHS also organize entrance exams. These types of institutions aim to provide students with a comprehensive, in-depth secondary education that will enable them to continue their education in college. Depending on the school, AHS emphasizes learning issues from various fields, e.g. humanities, art, economy, or nature. The eight-year education ends with the matriculation examination. It usually consists of 3-4 oral and written tests. Passing the baccalaureate in Austria equals being admitted to a university.

Secondary education in Austria

Upper secondary education in Austria divides into the following types of institutions:

  • Pre-vocational,
  • Academic (grades 9-12 AHS),
  • Vocational and part-time (grades 10-13, on-the-job learning and training),
  • Technical and vocational secondary school (grades 9-12),
  • Vocational colleges (grades 9-11).

Studying in Austria

Graduates of secondary schools who have a high school diploma can choose from the following institutions:

  • Private or public universities,
  • Polytechnics,
  • Art schools,
  • University teacher training colleges.

At the university level, the responsibility for the development of legislation and its implementation lies with the central government. Studying in Austria at universities and teaching colleges is free for EU citizens. If the minimum period of study in these institutions has been exceeded by more than two semesters, the student is obliged to pay a fee of EUR 363.36 for each semester. However, you can count on government or private scholarships. Some universities organize entrance exams or predisposition tests. In addition to the matura exam, knowledge of German is also required to start studies in Austria, confirmed by a B2 or C1 certificate. Some courses are in English, but they are a minority.