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Substantial reforms have been made to the Austrian system of higher education since 2003.

Country Overview

Austria is situated at the geographical heart of Europe, taking in the Alps mountain range to the west and the Danube Valley to the east. For centuries it also was at the heart of the dominant power in Central Europe, the Habsburg dynasty. After World War I, however, it was reduced to a small republic. In 1938 it was annexed by Nazi Germany, and, in 1945, after World War II, it was occupied by the Allies. A decade later, Austria was recognized as independent after adopting a law declaring perpetual neutrality, much like Switzerland, though its neutrality began to be seen as less absolute in 1995, when Austria became a member of the European Union. Today the country is one of the richest in the world, and its citizens enjoy a high standard of living.

Climate

Austria enjoys a temperate Central European climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot with cool nights. In Vienna and other low-lying cities temperatures during the day can get uncomfortably hot over July and August. Winters are cold, below freezing in January and February. The ski season in the Alps runs from December to April but the mountains are also popular with hikers and climbers over the summer when the weather is usually warm and bright.

GDP

$329,500,000,000

Population

8,210,281

Overview of Higher Education

Substantial reforms have been made to the Austrian system of higher education since 2003: Universities adopted “top-down” styles of management befitting a new semiautonomous status; the three universities of medicine were separated from their parent institutions; and a system of accreditation was devised for private universities. 

Austria offers a two-tier system of undergraduate and graduate degrees in accordance with its responsibilities as a signatory to the Bologna Process, which seeks to create a coordinated European Higher Education Area. (Medical degrees and teaching certificates, however, are exempt.) The country’s longstanding undergraduate degree, or Diplomstudium, typically requires four to six years of study, whereas its equivalent under the Bologna Process, the Bakkalaureat, generally requires three to four years. Holders of a Diplomstudium may pursue doctoral studies directly upon graduation, whereas holders of a Bakkalaureat must first obtain a Magisterstudium, of master’s degree, which generally entails another two years of study.

Tuition at public universities usually is free.

(Sources: BBC, The Europa World of Learning, Austrian National Tourist Office)

Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes

Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total): 34

Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (private/non-state): 11

Number of Higher Education Students

Number of students enrolled: 253,000

Number of international students enrolled: 39,329

Contact Information

Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture

Minoritenplatz 5, A - 1014 Wien

Web site: http://www.portal.ac.at/owa/portal.details_en?ogn_id_in=27

Phone: +43 1 53120 0

E-mail: wissenschaft@bmbwk.gv.at

Contact: Elisabeth Gehrer, Minister for Education, Science and Culture