"Everybody has the right to education". This right is stipulated in the Declaration of Human Rights. Austria meets this to a high degree with its school system and the broad range of schools. The Austrian school system encompasses diverse training possibilities for the most varied talents and interests.
How does the school system in Austria work?
Irrespective of residence status, it is compulsory for all children living in Austria and from the age of 5 to attend Kindergarten and from the age of 6 to attend school. The general obligation to attend school is met by attending the following forms of schools:
- In the first 4 years of school the Volksschule;
- in the 5th to 8th school year the Neue Mittelschule (NMS) or the Allgemein Bildende Höhere Schule (AHS);
- in the 9th school year the Polytechnische Schule (PTS) or a middle or secondary school.
Children of school age who are not yet ready for school can attend pre-school. At pre-school, the child is intended to familiarise himself/herself gradually with the school day.
What is the mandatory year at Kindergarten?
Children who are 5 years old before 1 September of the respective calendar year and have their main place of residence in Vienna are affected by the obligation to attend Kindergarten. This means that they must attend Kindergarten. This obligation to attend Kindergarten commences with the 1st school day of the school year which normally starts in September. Your child must attend Kindergarten on at least 4 days a week for at least 5 hours per day (20 hours a week). Your child may not stay away from Kindergarten without a reason. Otherwise you will have to pay a fine.
As a fundamental rule, your child can attend Kindergarten from the age of 3. Between November and the end of December you can register your child with the Municipal Department 10 – Vienna Children's Daycare Centres (MA 10) for the following September. For registration, you require the social insurance number of your child and your own.
What do I have to do so that my child can attend Volksschule?
So that your child can attend school, you have to register him or her on the enrolment dates at the responsible Volksschule. Your child also has to be present at the enrolment date so that his or her readiness for school can be established. The respectively responsible district school inspector decides what public mandatory school your child is assigned to.
Your child can start at a public mandatory school at any time. This means that entry during term time is possible. When your child starts Volksschule, mandatory schooling has commenced for your child and lasts a total of 9 years.
What schools can my child attend after Volksschule?
In the 1st semester of the 4th school year, you will be informed and advised about the further educational path of your child. What educational path is recommended depends on the interests and achievements of your child. You can register your child at a secondary school by means of a so-called "questionnaire". This questionnaire is handed out in Volksschule.
There are the following secondary schools:
- The Neue Mittelschule (NMS) is a 4-year course of education for all 10 to 14-year-olds. In addition to the usual curriculum, this school focuses on the consolidation of general education and gives the children comprehensive vocational orientation and a preparatory basic vocational education.
- The 1-year attendance of the Polytechnische Schule (PTS) incorporates the 9th school year. The Polytechnische Schule can be attended following the Neue Mittelschule (NMS). The school supports pupils in the consolidation of the general education and in the planning of their further education and vocation path.
- The Allgemein Bildende Höhere Schule (AHS) is a eight-year school form and can be attended directly after Volksschule. It concludes with the "Matura", the general qualification for university entrance that entitles the holder to study at universities of applied sciences and universities.
- Berufsbildende Schulen offer an in-depth general education and an initial vocational education.
- Berufsmatura - „Lehre mit Matura“ is a combination comprising an apprenticeship and school leaving examination.
What is "Start Wien – Das Jugendcollege"?
As an asylum seeker or a person granted asylum or subsidiary protection between the ages of 15 and 21, you can attend "Start Wien – Das Jugendcollege". For that, you have to be at least three months in ongoing asylum proceedings. The Youth College offers basic education and German courses. It is also possible there to catch up with a formal educational qualification.
With persons who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection, access to "Start Wien – Das Jugendcollege" takes place after clarification with the Arbeitsmarktservice (AMS). Young asylum seekers contact the Bildungsdrehscheibe of the Fonds Soziales Wien (FSW) via their basic social benefits organisation. Persons in private accommodation can register directly with the Bildungsdrehscheibe for an information discussion.
Will my child receive support when learning?
Migrant children can be classified as an "Extraordinary pupil" for up to 2 years. In this period of time, your child will only be marked in the subjects in which it has positive achievements. From the 3rd school year, he or she will then be comprehensively marked.
So that your child learns the German language more quickly, the attendance of an all-day school can be helpful. At an all-day school, your child will be looked after until at least 4 pm.
Multilingual children and young people are receive an additional tuition offering in Vienna: They are taught together with the class but specifically assisted: Through the use of accompanying teachers and native-tongue teachers in team teaching and/or through courses offered with individual assistance measures in the area of language. For pupils who only have minimal or no knowledge of German, language support classes of eleven hours per week are offered to enable them to learn German, the language of instruction.
As part of Förderung 2.0 - VHS Lernhilfe an Wiener Schulen a comprehensive learning support programme is offered at public Viennese schools. All pupils attending public New Middle Schools (NMS) or high schools (lower grades) in Vienna can use these learning support offers free of charge.
Is it possible to catch up with the mandatory school-leaving qualification?
The mandatory school-leaving qualification can be subsequently taken at the following providers:
abz*austria – Girls and women aged 16 and over
Simmeringer Hauptstraße 154
Tel.: 01 66 70 300 73
bfi Berufsförderungsinstitut Wien
Tel.: 01 607 88 09 11
Tel: 01 681 819 411 81
Die Wiener Volkshochschulen GmbH
Education telephone: 01 893 00 83
PROSA - Projekt Schule für Alle!
Vielmehr für Alle! Association for Education, Housing and Participation
UKI – Unterstützungskomitee zur Integration von MigrantInnen ("Support Committee for Integration
Tel.: 01 914 88 70-20
Tel.: 01 812 57 22
Can I study in Austria?
For you to be accepted for university study, certain requirements apply depending on the course of study and the university. Please therefore obtain information from the respective university regarding the requirements, registration deadlines and accepted documentation. In most cases, teaching is done in German. Some subjects are offered in English.
An overview of the universities, universities of applied sciences and private universities in Vienna can be found here:
Here you find an overview of all degree programmes in Austria:
The Vorstudienlehrgang der Wiener Universitäten (VWU) is a preparatory course for university studies for international students. The VWU offers foreign prospective students intensive courses as preparation for supplementary examinations stipulated by the universities.
oead4refugees provides an overview for refugees in Austria, who want to study or need a recognition (nostrification) of the university degree they acquired abroad.
Austrian Database for Scholarships and Research Grants
Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Wirtschaft/Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research
Education system in Austria
Grants for pupils
Grants for students
Information on entitlements acquired abroad
Interspace - basic education for young people
Start Wien – Das Jugendcollege
Kindergarten - Registration with MA 10
School info for migrants with initial consultation
Vienna board of Education
Points of contact for persons with qualifications obtained abroad
VHS - Learning support
Wiener Kinderdrehscheibe (Counselling)