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Austria Higher Education System

Structure of the Higher Educational System in Austria
Admissions to Higher Education in Austria
Types of Higher Education Institutions in Austria
Cycles of Higher Education in Austria
 


Types of Higher Education Institutions


Higher education is provided by

• 22 Public Universities (the biggest sector),

• 21 Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen, FH, introduced in 1994),

• 13 Private Universities (introduced in 2000), and

• 17 University Colleges of Teacher Education (Pädagogische Hochschulen, introduced in 2007).

The higher education institutions offer the following study programmes:

Degree programmes:

• Diploma (after 8-12 semesters), or, respectively Diploma (FH) (after 8-10 semesters);

• Bachelor (6-8 semesters);

• Master (2-4 semesters following the bachelor’s degree, at universities at least 4 semesters);

• Doctor (at least 6 semesters following the master’s or diploma degree).

Further education programmes:

• Certificate (“Akademische/r …”);

• Course at a (tertiary) Educational Institution

• Postgraduate University Course

Public Universities

A new concept of autonomy and a complete restructuring of Universities took place by the Universities Act 2002 - as amended, which became fully effective from 1st January 2004.

The main tasks of Universities are:

• to develop and impart the sciences and/or the arts;

• to provide basic training for scientific and/or artistic occupations and the qualifications for professional activities which require the application of scientific and/or artistic findings;

• to train a next generation of scientists and/or artists;

• to offer further training, especially to graduates;

• to support national and international cooperation in the field of scientific research and teaching and/or the exercise of the arts and their teaching;

• to support the use and application of university research results and/or the practical accessibility of the arts.

The Universities are legal entities under public law having their own legal personality. They act free from any instructions and regulate their specific matters autonomously in their statutes. The Federal Minister for Science and Research has legal supervision of their activities. There are no provisions for the minister to perform any other type of supervision, for example, to review whether their activities are appropriate and economical. Universities are now headed by a University Council (Universitätsrat), a Senate (Senat), a Rectorate (Rektorat) and a Rector (Rektor/in). Senates may set up decentralized Collegial Boards (Kollegialorgane) with or without decision-making competences; they must set up specific Collegial Boards with decision-making powers. The Senate must approve decisions of all Collegial Boards. Moreover, the senate must establish a monocratic organ for study affairs (studies officer). The Senate enacts the curricula. The Rectorate or the study administration is responsible for all decisions on admission. The University Councils of the different Universities are responsible for reviewing legality and efficiency. The University Councils elect the Rectors. They are, in fact, the supervisory bodies in the day-to-day routine of University activities.

The law is also responsible for providing the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy with expert opinion on issues of the given University and launching evaluation measures. The Ministry assumes a supervisory function only in legal affairs and continues to be responsible for strategic planning and research. The law establishes which groups of degree programmes may be introduced at Universities and lays general rules concerning admissions and the award of academic degrees.

The performance of each University (including the offering of study programmes) and its budget is negotiated every three years between the respective University and the Federal Minister and laid down in a due to the performance agreements.

In 2009 the Universities Act was amended (included in the valid version above), laying down, inter alia, a clear distribution of competences between Rectorate, Senate und University Council and a proportion of women of at least 40 per cent in the collegial University bodies (University Councils, Rectorates, Senates or lists for the election of the Senate, Appointment Committees, Habilitation Committee).

University of Continuing Education Krems (Danube University - Donau-Universität Krems, DUK)

In 1994 the then University Centre for Further Education and Training in Krems (Danube University – Donau-Universität Krems), now University of Continuing Education Krems, was founded. Aligned to the 2002 Universities Act - as amended (Universitätsgesetz 2002), it has been since 2004 Austria’s 22nd University specialising on postgraduate education and further training. See the Federal Act on the University for Further Education Krems - as amended.

Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule, FH)

Since the 1994/95 academic year, University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule, FH) degree programmes have been provided to offer scientifically founded and vocation-oriented courses at the higher education level. The education is to equip students with vocational qualifications and therefore the curricula must be designed for graduates to have reasonable prospects of taking up an occupation commensurate with their education.

Programmes at universities of applied sciences are provided as bachelor programmes, master programmes, as well as diploma programmes, and include a period of practical training. The programmes may be provided in different organisational forms. In addition to full-time courses, there are a number of university of applied sciences programmes which are provided, additionally or exclusively, for working students.

The main goals for establishing Universities of Applied Sciences:

• to ensure practice-oriented training at university level;

• to communicate the skills needed for solving the tasks of the respective occupational field in line with the state of the art and practical requirements;

• to promote the permeability of the educational system and the flexibility of graduates regarding various occupations.

Universities of Applied Sciences degree programmes may be provided by the federal authorities and other legal entities under public and private law. A degree-programme provider may maintain one or several institutions which are in charge of operating the degree programmes. The Universities of Applied Sciences degree programmes are offered on a broader regional basis than the University programmes. Some of the institutions are also found outside of major conurbations.

One characteristic feature of the Universities of Applied Sciences sector is the system of mixed funding based on the standard cost system. The Federal Government bears the costs per study place, provided that the catalogue of established criteria is complied with. The costs for buildings, investments and a part of the running costs are borne by the provider of the Universities of Applied Sciences degree programme (usually the governments of the federal provinces, regional and supra-regional territorial authorities or other public and private institutions assume part of the costs).

The Universities of Applied Sciences Council (Fachhochschulrat) has been set up as the central body for the Universities of Applied Sciences sector. It has been integrated into the "Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria" in year 2012. It is responsible for decisions on the accreditation of programmes as Universities of Applied Sciences degree programmes and on the withdrawal of such accreditations, as well as for awarding the academic degrees and for the nostrification of foreign academic degrees, for the ongoing evaluation of the entire Universities of Applied Sciences sector and for advising the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy on matters relating to the Universities of Applied Sciences sector and the allocation of federal funding.

Universities of Applied Sciences degree programmes are accredited for a maximum of five years. Then, they will pass through an internal and external evaluation procedure and must apply to the Universities of Applied Sciences Council for an extension of their accreditation. At that point, there may be changes regarding contents and methodology of the degree programme in question.

The Universities of Applied Sciences Council is subject to the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. The study administration is responsible for all decisions on admission.

Development of the Universities of Applied Sciences is controlled by the University of Applied Sciences development and funding plans. The currently applicable plan comprising years 2010/2011 to 2012/2013 provides for further quality development and consolidation; under the proactive funding scheme (extra funds), a quantitative increase in terms of funds provided by the federal government is planned.

Private Universities

Private Universities have existed in Austria since 1999. Private institutions may be recognised by the State as Private Universities, which gives them the right to award degrees to their students. Currently 13 Private Universities with around 170 programmes are recognised.

The Accreditation Council (Akkreditierungsrat) has been integrated into the "Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria" in 2012. It is responsible, in particular, for decisions on the accreditation of Private Universities (this includes the accreditation of institutions, as well as the accreditation of new degree programmes) and the supervision of already accredited Private Universities. The Accreditation Council puts the statutory requirements into more specific form by issuing guidelines on the requirements for application, standards for accreditation, etc. The Accreditation Council is subject to the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.

There do not exist any provisions on structure or organs of Private Universities; these questions are left to them. No federal funding is allowed for Private Universities. Other public funding, e.g. from the regions, is allowed. See the University Accreditation Act - as amended.

University Colleges of Teacher Education (Pädagogische Hochschule)

A new concept of teacher training institutions took place by the Teacher Education Act 2005 - as amended.

The task of the University Colleges of Teacher Education is to educate teachers for primary schools, lower secondary schools, special need schools, the pre-vocational year, vocational subjects, and religion.

There exist, on the basis of the law, nine Public University Colleges of Teacher Education. Besides, Private University Colleges of Teacher Education can, on application, be accredited by the Federal Ministry of Education and Women's Affairs.

The University Colleges of Teacher Education are legal entities under public law with a restricted autonomy. The Minister has supervision of their activities. They are headed by a Council (Hochschulrat), a Senate (Senat), a Rectorate (Rektorat), a Rector (Rektor/in) and a Study Committee (Studienkommission). Senates may set up decentralized Collegial Boards (Kollegialorgane) with or without decision-making competences; they must set up specific Collegial Boards with decision-making powers. The Senate must approve decisions of all Collegial Boards. The Senate enacts the curricula. The Rectorate or the study administration is responsible for all decisions on admission.

The budget for each Public University College of Teacher Education is allocated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Women's Affairs.


First Cycle Programmes


Bachelor


Branches of Study

Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences and University Colleges of Teacher Education may set up and/or continue bachelor's programmes. The workload associated with Bachelor programmes amount to 180 ECTS credits or 6 to 8 semesters, in exceptional cases 240 ECTS credits (if this is vital for guaranteeing employability and if the duration of the studies is comparable to that in other countries).

The following groups of studies are offered:

• Art and Humanities

• Arts

• Economic Sciences

• Engineering Sciences Law

• Medical and Health Sciences

• Natural Sciences

• Social Sciences

• Teacher Training

• Theology

• Veterinary Medicine

Every degree programme must be clearly attributable to one of the aforementioned groups, since this determines the academic degree. Whenever necessary, a student may follow an individual study programme – with the approval of the institution, though – which will be a combination of examination subjects from different study programmes.

Universities of Applied Sciences

The fields in which Universities of Applied Sciences may provide bachelor programmes are not defined by statute. Currently the following fields are offered:

• Technology, Engineering

• Economics

• Public Health

• Social ScienceDesign, Art

• Science

• Military and Security Science

Private Universities

Currently Private Universities provide 62 bachelor programmes. The fields in which Private Universities may run bachelor programmes are not defined by statute.

At present primarily the following fields are offered:

• Arts and Music

• Medical and Public Health

• Social Science and Economics Humanities

National Qualification Framework

In compliance with the recommendations of the European Parliament and the Council (2008), Austria is working intensively to develop a National Qualification Frameworke (NQF), which will be linked to the European Qualification Framework (EQF), comprising all areas of education. The aim is to establish a classification scheme assigning the entire Austrian qualification system to 8 reference levels by 2013.

Admission Requirements

Admission to a bachelor's programme requires the following:

• the general university entrance qualification;

• at public universities the specific university entrance qualification for the chosen study programme;

• knowledge of the German language;

• proof of artistic aptitude in case of artistic programmes;

• proof of aptitude for physical/motor skills for teacher training programmes in physical education (Leibeserziehung) and for the degree programmes in sports sciences (Sportwissenschaften);

• admission procedure for Universities of Applied Sciences degree programmes;

• proof of aptitude for teacher training programmes at university colleges of education.

Admission to a bachelor (diploma) degree programme is granted upon the basis on the Austrian higher secondary school leaving certificate (Reifezeugnis), its foreign equivalent, or the successful completion of a special university entrance qualification examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung). Students of compulsory lower schools who have completed additional schooling in the form of apprenticeships as skilled workers may take a vocationally based examination acknowledged as equivalent to the higher secondary school leaving certificate (Berufsreifeprüfung). Admission to University of Applied Sciences bachelor (diploma) degree programmes may also take place upon the basis of previous vocational or technical experience and qualifications of applicants. In some fields of study admission is based on a selective admission process. This applies in particular to University of Applied Sciences diploma and bachelor degree programmes, study programmes at University Colleges of Teacher Education and some diploma and bachelor degree programmes at Universities in accordance with respective legal authorization. This is the case in the study programmes “Human Medicine”, “Dental Medicine”, “Veterinary Medicine”, “Psychology” and “Communication Studies and Journalism”. The number of newly admitted students is either determined by the University itself (“Human Medicine”, “Dental Medicine”, “Veterinary Medicine”, “Psychology”) or by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (“Communication Studies and Journalism”). The Ministry may limit the number of students as well in other study programmes as long as there is an increased demand on the part of foreign citizens for these study programmes.

A newly organised introductory and orientation phase (STEOP) was first implemented by the Universities at the beginning of the academic year 2011/12. It applies to programmes that are not subject to a specific admission regulation. Universities are allowed to organise the introductory and orientation phase based on the needs of the various subjects within the statutory framework. Depending on the University and Department, this phase encompasses from 4 to 30 ECTS; it lasts one semester, during which students must take at least two exams. For these exams, only one resit is possible. Students must successfully complete the introductory and orientation phase in order to continue their programme. Furthermore, new admission periods have been introduced as of the winter semester 2012/13: the Rector’s Office at each University determines the admission period for each semester. For the winter semester, such periods must last at least 8 weeks for bachelor and diploma programmes, and end on 5 September, and for the summer semester they must last for at least four weeks and end on 5 February.

Finally, the general University entrance qualification is also obtained by completing studies at a post-secondary educational institution, for which the required work output amounts to a minimum of 180 ECTS credits (corresponds to a minimum three-year duration of studies).

Whenever an applicant has obtained a foreign admission title, its equivalency to one of the aforementioned Austrian admission titles must be reviewed. Specific University qualification means that at Public Universities in addition to the general University entrance qualification, proof must be given that the study-specific admission requirements are met, including the right to immediate admission to a degree programme, as they exist in the country issuing the document that is proof of the general University entrance qualification. As far as Austrian secondary school-leaving certificates are concerned, supplementary examinations may have to be taken for specific subjects in the degree programme, in accordance with the University Entrance Qualification Degree (Universitätsberechtigungsverordnung).

At Public Universities, the Senate is entitled to establish that unacceptable study conditions would prevail if all foreign and stateless applicants were admitted without any restriction, on account of the proportion between teachers and students. In such a case the Senate may establish and announce restrictions on the admission of foreign and stateless applicants. EU and EEA citizens and certain other groups of persons, for example refugees or applicants under a mobility programme, are exempt from such regulations.

Universities of Applied Sciences

University Entrance Qualifications (Allgemeine Universitätsreife) or relevant vocational qualifications are requirements for admission to bachelor programmes at University of Applied Sciences. If required by the educational objective of the respective course of study, first-year students with relevant vocational qualifications must furnish certificates of additional examinations.

The applicable special entrance examinations (Studienberechtigungsprüfungen) are determined by the respective University of Applied Sciences programme.

Subject to study places available, University of Applied Sciences bachelor programmes are generally accessible to those who meet entrance requirements. The number of study places is established by the Universities of Applied Sciences Council (Fachhochschulrat) in the accreditation decree. Study places are awarded based on selection procedures. Alternative ways of entrance (i.e. without matriculation examination – Reifezeugnis) are especially considered in the field of Universities of Applied Sciences. In addition to University Entrance Qualifications, vocational qualifications are recognised as entrance requirements for many University of Applied Sciences programmes. Thus students who have graduated within the dual education system (apprenticeship certification) and from medium level technical and vocational schools, as well as working students, can meet the requirements. According to the University of Applied Sciences plan 2010/11 – 2012/13 University of Applied Sciences, when setting up new programmes, shall especially take account of students with a migration background..

Private Universities

The minimum admission requirements for bachelor programmes at Private Universities are University Entrance Qualifications; however, Private Universities may define additional requirements at their discretion. Private Universities are also free to choose a method for finding the best suitable candidates. There is no uniform selection procedure; it highly depends on the branch of the respective Private University.

Guidance on Choice of Study Courses

In order to increase educational participation, the quality of the guidance on choice of study courses is essential. The services to help students be prepared for University (information, orientation) is being further improved.

• Sensitisation to study courses and information on study courses – more information about study options at higher education institutions is provided to prospective University qualifiers by means of brochures, annual information exchanges on study courses in Austria and abroad, as well as through the relaunched Study Choice Internet portal.

• New Initiative re Guidance on Choice of Study Courses – a comprehensive set of actions, jointly enhanced by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Women's Affairs and the Austrian National Union of Students (Österreichischen Hochschülerschaft) in order to support students, throughout the last two years before their matriculation examinations, in their career and education planning and in the decision-making process on their choice of study courses: Study Choice, Study Check. Counselling on choice of study courses will be a mandatory requirement for admission to university as of the winter semester 2012/13.

Curriculum

A curriculum must be drawn up and announced for each degree programme which is offered. It is the central document of every degree programme. It governs, in particular, the qualification profile and the structure of the programme, as well as the examination subjects and the courses required prior to taking an examination, other achievements (always defining the scope of the achievement in ECTS credits) and the way in which examinations must be taken.

At Public Universities it is the duty of the Senate to enact and change the curricula for degree programmes and certificate University programmes for further education.

The scope of a degree programme must be indicated exclusively in terms of the credits established under the European Course Credit Transfer System (ECTS). This system is an important mobility-promoting instrument.

The curricula for Universities of Applied Sciences are prepared independently by the provider of the University of Applied Sciences – usually by a body of experts – and accredited by the Universities of Applied Sciences Council. The share of the workload of the students related to the individual studies is determined with ECTS credits according to the University of Applied Sciences Studies Act (Fachhochschul-Studiengesetz). University of Applied Sciences bachelor progammes are assigned 180 ECTS. Applications for accreditation of a University of Applied Sciences bachelor programme have to contain details on the following items:

• orientation profiles

• a survey of demand and acceptance

• information on the group of persons entrusted with the development of the curriculum (development teams)

• evaluations of programmes

• occupational fields and profile of professional qualifications

• curriculum and examination regulations

• teaching concept

• entrance requirements

• admission regulations

• information on teaching and research staff

• fields of research

• information on facilities and equipment

• cost estimate and financial programme

The curricula of programmes at Private Universities are prepared independently by the respective institution. During the process of accreditation by the Accreditation Council, the curricula are checked by international specialists as to quality, international comparability and conformity with the Bologna objectives.

Most bachelor programmes provided by Private Universities are assigned 180 ECTS credits; however, exceptions are possible (e.g. in the field of music and arts).

A few Private Universities provide study courses in English or French.

Teaching Methods

Based on the principle of freedom of sciences and their teaching enshrined in constitutional law, the teaching staff at Universities as well as Universities of Applied Sciences may freely choose the contents and methods of their courses. Basically the types of courses offered have not changed in the past few decades. In addition to lectures, there are seminars, introductory seminars, exercises, practical workshops, field trips, tutorials, etc. Long-distance study units are explicitly permitted. In addition, one-to-one courses to promote the artistic development of students individually are provided in arts and music programmes.

The use of new media in teaching such as media didactics, structuring teaching contents according to media design criteria and to the changing cognitive learning process, is gaining increasing importance. Universities are meeting those needs by developing appropriate further development and services as part of their human resources development activities. Developing an adequate e-learning/e-teaching strategy is a decision that is entirely at the discretion of Universities. Many Universities have integrated elements of blended learning into their existing courses, depending on need, particularly in order to support working students who have a duty of care. For programmes with very large numbers of students enrolled, the introductory and orientation phase is organised almost exclusively online. Universities are also increasingly offering foreign language (mainly English) classes and courses.

Pursuant to the Universities of Applied Sciences Studies Act, programmes provided by Universities of Applied Sciences shall pay attention to the multiplicity of science theories and scientific methodologies. There is no further determination for University of Applied Sciences bachelor programmes – except for the examination regulations mentioned in the guidelines of the Universities of Applied Sciences Council. Knowledge is imparted in the form of courses, seminars, project papers and exercises. In addition to literature (textbooks and materials), means used in courses include e-learning and computer-assisted learning methods.

Teaching methods at Private Universities are chosen autonomously by the Private Universities or teachers. During accreditation of a study course, international experts check whether the study course is suitably structured, and whether students have an adequate possibility of studying, as well as analysing and reflecting independently on, course contents; furthermore it is checked whether teaching methods are suitable to reach the defined learning objectives and outcome. Private Universities have smaller student cohorts and sometimes provide project-based forms of teaching and study for small groups of students. In addition, e-learning and blended learning are applied.

Progression of Students

Public Universities


There is no time limit for students at Public Universites to finish their degree programmes, as long as they are registered for the continuation of their studies.

Regarding the repetition of examinations students are entitled to repeat failed examinations three times. All examinations taken in the same subject, under all relevant study programmes at the same University, count towards the permissible number of resits. The statute of each University may state whether further resits are permitted and if so how many may be taken. The third repetition of an examination must be held before an examination board if the examination takes the form of a single procedure.

The examination regulations for the individual curricula must be laid down by the responsible organ. This includes, in particular, regulations concerning the method and purpose of examinations and the way in which they are organized. As a result, the responsible organ has adequate leeway in designing examinations.

The final examination is the bachelor's examination. Moreover, a minimum of two bachelor's theses must be written in the course of the degree programme.

The positive results at examinations and regarding scientific or artistic theses are graded:

• "very good" (sehr gut) (1),

• "good" (gut) (2),

• "satisfactory" (befriedigend) (3) or

• "passed" (genügend) (4);

the negative result is graded

• "failed" (nicht genügend) (5).

Intermediate assessments are not admissible. Whenever this type of grading is impossible or inappropriate, the positive grade must be "attended successfully" (mit Erfolg teilgenommen) and the negative grade must read "attended without success" (ohne Erfolg teilgenommen). Examinations that consist of several subjects or parts may only be given a positive grade if every subject or part received a positive grade.

Examinations that were taken in the course of other studies or at another recognized Austrian or foreign post-secondary educational institution, a Higher Vocational School, a Higher Institute for the Training of Teachers and Instructors, another recognized Austrian educational institution, where admission requires the general university entrance qualification, or which were taken at the end of a university-level course, must be recognized by way of official notification, to the extent that they are equivalent to the examinations required by the curriculum. The examinations taken for a subject at an Austrian University or at a University in the European Union or the European Economic Area must be recognized for the same subject in the respective programme of another Austrian University in any event if the ECTS credits are the same or deviate from each other only slightly.

There are several multilateral and bilateral agreements on the recognition of examinations.

Universities of Applied Sciences

University of Applied Sciences programmes are scheduled such that courses have to be attended by students in a certain defined order – in contrast to Universities. Therefore only a minor delay in the duration of study is possible. Regarding the repetition of examinations students are entitled to repeat failed examinations twice; a year of study may be repeated once. The average percentage of students dropping out is 22.7 per cent. Many University of Applied Sciences programmes are provided full-time as well as for working students, allowing for a flexible organisation of studies.

Private Universities

As Private Universities must base their programmes on international standards (audit during the accreditation procedure), (nearly) all study courses have a modular structure and use ECTS credits. Definition of the duration of study and semesters of tolerance, etc. is within the responsibility of the Private University.

Employability

In its second article, the University Act enumerates the guiding principles that are to be observed by the Universities in pursuance of their objects. Amongst others, it mentions “attention to the requirements for entry to professional careers”. The Rectorates therefore regularly meet with social partners and individual companies to exchange ideas. In fact, Austria boasts a tried-and-tested model of social partnership. Ministries tend to involve the social partners, i.e. employee representatives (Chambers of Labor, Trade Unions) and employers (Austrian Economic Chamber, Association of Austrian Industries) as well as experts from the institutions concerned (Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences, Research Institutions) in debates on milestone decisions and current developments, including tertiary education. Representatives of the professional field concerned are included in curricular development. The steering bodies of Universities (University Councils) include representatives from industry and public life.

The Fachhochschule Councils actively involve the social partners in the accreditation of study programs. Governmental advisory institutions such as the Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development (Rat für Forschungs und Technologieentwicklung) or the Austrian Scientific Council (Österreichischer Wissenschaftsrat) submit proposals to raise general educational levels, including those in science and technology. In order to continue optimal support of knowledge and technology transfer, central elements such as the formulation of practical and measurable patenting, development of transfer capacity, skills and IP utilization strategies have been included in the Performance Agreements with the Universities.

University-Business Cooperation

Additionally, Austria has initiated long term governmental programs (e.g. uni:invent, A+B and COMET) to support University-Industry collaboration financially as well as administratively in order to promote technology transfer between the PROs and industry.

Current regulations concerning the development of curricula do not provide for an obligatory cooperation between the University and the business sector. It is at the discretion of the “curricula committee” to consult employers or the relevant business chambers when designing new curricula. Still, in Austria, higher education courses are to a large extent developed in cooperation with professionals from the field in question, the steering bodies of Universities (University Councils) often include representatives from industry and public life. The Fachhochschule Councils actively involve the social partners in the accreditation of study programs.

So most Universities are in regular exchange with companies, either through individual science projects or through collaboration on the political level.

Internships/ Placements

According to the latest survey on the social situation of students from 2009, 49% of the student population have done an internship (this figure includes Universities of Applied Sciences) during their studies. For medical studies and teacher training programmes, placements at hospitals respectively schools are prevailing and they can also be done abroad.

In natural sciences, compulsory placements are also frequent: at the University of Leoben, which focuses on mining and other technical studies, work placements are obligatory in all study fields. The University of Applied Arts in Vienna has launched the BA study programme „TransArts“ in winter 2010. It consists of projects which last for the entire semester each, and one of them can be replaced by an internship of at least four months.

About one third of the students have done work placements voluntarily; these internships are mostly organised independently by the students. In recent years, Universities have become more and more eager to support their students and graduates to enter the labour market. To that end, approximately half of them have created career centres and they usually publish vacancies for internships and other jobs on their websites.

Mandatory internships are required for all University of Applied Sciences bachelor and diploma programmes. It has to be ensured that internships meet the educational objectives of the respective University of Applied Sciences programme and that students are employed in line with their level of qualifications. The mandatory internships are a relevant part of the study course and give students an opportunity to establish contacts with prospective employers, in addition to gaining practice experience.

In designing their curricula, Private Universities have to consider explicitly aspects of employability. This means, the qualification objectives need to be defined for the whole programme as well as for individual modules and courses. The course contents, as well as knowledge, skills and competences to be acquired through the course of study are the basis of audit by the Accreditation Council.

Entrepreneurship

Three Universities have departments for entrepreneurship whereas at other Universities individual courses are often included in the innovation departments. Courses cover topics such as business planning, intellectual property rights or idea generating and are usually set up as project and/or field work. Furthermore there are chairs for entrepreneurship at several Austrian Universities. Apart from that, management sciences are also taught at all Technical Universities and at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences to ensure that the specific science knowledge they offer also meets the needs of the business world.

Career Services

Many Austrian Universities have Career Service Centers to support students and graduates in vocational orientation, job seeking and in establishing career networks. In 2009 the umbrella organisation “Career Services Austria” was jointly founded by eight career planning and counselling centres at Graz University of Technology, Vienna University of Technology, University of Graz, University of Innsbruck, University of Klagenfurt, University ofLinz, University of Vienna and Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Increased Number of Graduates of Science and Technology Programmes

In order to boost the number of graduates from mathematics, science, technology and engineering programmes, the information initiative MINT (Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaft, Technik) was launched. It aims to better inform future and first-year students, concerning the various courses and possibities in the fields of mathematics, computer science, as well as natural science and technology at Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences, reducing their concerns and informing them about job opportunities. In the framework of an investment programme to improve teaching and strengthen the MINT programmes, a tender will be conducted to award funds to the winning projects to be carried out subsequently. For 2012/13 the Universities have been allocated additional funds totalling 40 million euro for targeted measures to improve teaching. The 78 projects that have been selected cover a wide range of topics and tackle, for example, issues such as better student-teacher ratios in popular subjects, measures to increase female students’ interest, especially in the MINT programmes, and investments in infrastructure.

Student Assessment

Public Universities


Whether individual courses have been attended successfully, is evaluated by the respective course teacher. Students complete the bachelor programme at University with bachelor’s examinations.

Pursuant to the Universities Act 2002 - as amended, the examination regulations for the individual curricula must be laid down by the responsible collegial boards. This includes, in particular, regulations concerning the method and purpose of examinations and the way in which they are organized. As a result, the responsible organ has adequate leeway in designing examinations.

In addition to the bachelor's examination, a minimum of two bachelor's theses must be written in the course of the degree programme. The positive results at examinations and regarding scientific or artistic theses are graded:

• "very good" (sehr gut) (1);

• "good" (gut) (2);

• "satisfactory" (befriedigend) (3) or

• "passed" (genügend) (4);

the negative result is graded

• "failed" (nicht genügend) (5).

Universities of Applied Sciences

There is no central statutory provision governing examination regulations at Universities of Applied Sciences; their examination regulations are defined according to the standards issued by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria, which also accredits them. University of Applied Sciences bachelor degree programmes include the obligation to write independent papers in the context of courses (bachelor papers); the final bachelor exam is an examination before a committee. The results at examinations and regarding papers at Universities of Applied Sciences are graded as follows:

• with distinction;

• excellent;

• very good;

• passed;

• failed.

Private Universities

There is no central statutory provision governing examination regulations at Private Universities; examination regulations are audited by international experts in the framework of course accreditation. Private Universities may autonomously design examination methods and schedules.

Certification

Public Universities


Upon successful completion of all achievements required by a particular curriculum, the relevant academic degree is awarded by way of a written official notification promptly, at the latest, though, within one month after satisfaction of the requirements. The official notification must indicate, in particular, the completed study programme and the academic degree and the legal basis (e.g. the Universities Act 2002 - as amended and the relevant curriculum).

The following Bachelor's degrees are awarded:

• Bachelor of Art (BArt)

• Bachelor of Arts (BA)

• Bachelor of Education (BEd)

• Bachelor of Engineering (BEng)

• Bachelor of Law (BL)

• Bachelor of Science (BSc)

• Bachelor of Social Sciences (BSocSc)

• Bachelor of Theology (BTh)

• Bachelor (for individual studies) (BA)

If a degree programme is completed on the basis of a joint degree programme, it is admissible under certain conditions that the academic degree is awarded in one joint document, together with the partner institution.

For the purpose of supporting international mobility of graduates, students are entitled to be issued a Diploma Supplement pursuant to Article IX.3 of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, in connection with the official notification of being awarded the academic degree.

If an Austrian academic degree is urgently needed for the exercise of a certain professional activity – i.e. if the activity falls under an area with statutory regulations and the professional recognition pursuant to EU law does not apply – holders may apply to an institution with subject-matter competence for nostrification of their foreign academic degree. The nostrification procedure is an administrative procedure. In a few exceptional cases (e.g. regarding many students from Italy or Croatia) bilateral agreements, instead of nostrification, allow equivalency to be established by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.

Universities of Applied Sciences

After completion of the studies and examinations required for a University of Applied Sciences programme, students are awarded a degree. The academic degree for University of Applied Sciences bachelor programmes is “Bachelor” with a suffix designating the discipline. Admissible degrees, suffixes and abbrevations of degrees are established by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria, subject to approval by the Federal Minister. For individual Universities of Applied Sciences programmes the respective degrees together with the additional designations are to be established by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria in the accredition decree.

Private Universities

By virtue of their accreditation by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria, Private Universities are entitled to confer recognised Austrian academic degrees on their students.


Second Cycle Programmes


Branches of Study

The following groups of studies are offered:

• Art and Humanities

• Arts

• Economic Sciences

• Engineering Sciences Law

• Medical and Health Sciences

• Natural Sciences

• Social Sciences

• Teacher Training

• Theology

• Veterinary Medicine

Every degree programme must be clearly attributable to one of the afore mentioned groups, since this determines the academic degree.

Whenever necessary, a student may follow an individual study programme – with the approval of the institution, though – which will be a combination of examination subjects from different study programmes.

Admission Requirements

Admission to a master degree programme is granted on the basis of the successful completion of a relevant bachelor degree programme, University of Applied Sciences bachelor degree programme or other equivalent programme at a recognized domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institution. The curriculum of a master degree programme at Public Universities may determine specific qualitative conditions for admission to the respective programme.

As a matter of principle, compliance with the general University entrance qualification for master's degree programmes is provided by the respective Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Whenever an applicant has obtained a foreign admission title, its equivalency to one of the aforementioned Austrian admission titles must be reviewed. In many cases, equivalency has been determined by multilateral and/or bilateral agreements. In all other cases, equivalency must be decided on a case by case basis; if necessary, supplementary examinations may be required as an admission condition.

Specific University qualification means that at Public Universities in addition to the general University entrance qualification, proof must be given that the study-specific admission requirements are met, including the right to immediate admission to a master’s programme, as they exist in the country issuing the document that is proof of the general University entrance qualification.

Universities of Applied Sciences

The educational requirement for admission to a University of AQpplied Sciences master programme is a completed subject-relevant University of Applied Sciences bachelor programme or the completion of an equivalent programme at a recognised Austrian or foreign post-secondary educational institution. This shall be an educational institution which offers study programmes lasting for at least six semesters for which admission requires the general University entrance qualification in terms of the present Federal Act and which is recognised as a post-secondary educational institution according to the legal rules of the country in which it is domiciled. If the scientific and didactic concept of a University of Applied Sciences degree programme is based on professional experience, admission to such a University of Applied Sciences degree programme may be limited to an appropriate target group.

Subject to availability of study places, University of Applied Sciences master programmes are general accessible to those meeting the entrance requirements. The number of study places is established by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria in the accreditation decree.

Private Universities

Private universities are governed by the same minimum admission requirements as Public Universities; however, they may apply additional selection procedures.

Curriculum

Public Universities

A curriculum must be drawn up and announced for each degree programme which is offered. It is the central document of every degree programme. It governs, in particular, the qualification profile and the structure of the programme, as well as the examination subjects and the courses required prior to taking an examination, other achievements (always defining the scope of the achievement in ECTS credits) and the way in which examinations must be taken.

The scope of a degree programme must be indicated exclusively in terms of the credits established under the European Course Credit Transfer System (ECTS). This system is an important mobility-promoting instrument. The workload for a master’s programme must be 120 ECTS, in exceptional cases 60 or 90 credits.

Several Master-programmes at Austrian Universities are offered in English.

Universities of Applied Sciences

The curricula for Universities of Applied Sciences are prepared independently by the provider of the University of Applied Sciences – usually by a body of experts – and accredited by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria. The share of the workload of the students related to the individual studies is determined with ECTS credits according to the University of Applied Sciences Studies Act - as amended (Fachhochschul-Studiengesetz). University of Applied Sciences master progammes are assigned 60 to 120 ECTS. Applications for accreditation of a University of Applied Sciences master programme have to contain details on the following items:

• orientation profiles

• a survey of demand and acceptance

• information on the group of persons entrusted with the development of the curriculum (development teams)

• evaluations of programmes

• occupational fields and profile of professional qualifications

• curriculum and examination regulations

• teaching concept

• entrance requirements

• admission regulations

• information on teaching and research staff

• fields of research

• information on facilities and equipment

• cost estimate and financial programme

Private Universities

The curricula of programmes at Private Universities are prepared independently by the respective institution. During the process of accreditation by the Accreditation Council, the curricula are checked by international specialists as to quality, international comparability and conformity with the Bologna objectives.

Most master programmes provided by Private Universities are assigned 120 ECTS credits; however, exceptions are possible (e.g. in the field of music and arts).

A few Private Universities provide master programmes in English or French.

Teaching Methods

Public Universities


Based on the principle of freedom of sciences and their teaching enshrined in constitutional law, the teaching staff at Universities as well as Universities of Applied Sciences may freely choose the contents and methods of their courses. Basically the types of courses offered have not changed in the past few decades. In addition to lectures, there are seminars, introductory seminars, exercises, practical workshops, field trips, tutorials, etc. Long-distance study units are explicitly permitted. In addition, one-to-one courses to promote the artistic development of students individually are provided in arts and music programmes. Many Universities have integrated elements of blended learning into the existing courses, depending on need, particularly in order to support working students who have a duty of care. For programmes with very large numbers of students enrolled, the introductory and orientation phase is organised almost exclusively online. Universities are also increasingly offering foreign language (mainly English) classes and courses, i.e. mostly English language master and Ph.D. programmes.

Universities of Applied Sciences

Pursuant to the Universities of Applied Sciences Studies Act - as amended, programmes provided by Universities of Applied Sciences shall pay attention to the multiplicity of science theories and scientific methodologies. The principle of freedom of teachings refers to the organisation of courses within the framework of teaching responsibilities, and to methods and contents. There is no further determination for University of Applied Sciences master programmes – except for the examination regulations mentioned in the guidelines of the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria. Knowledge is imparted in the form of courses, seminars, project papers and exercises. In addition to literature (textbooks and materials), means used in courses include e-learning and computer-assisted learning methods.

Private Universities

Teaching methods at Private Universities are chosen autonomously by the Private Universities or teachers. During accreditation of a study course, international experts check whether the study course is suitably structured, and whether students have an adequate possibility of studying, as well as analysing and reflecting independently on, course contents; furthermore it is checked whether teaching methods are suitable to reach the defined learning objectives and outcome. Private Universities have smaller student cohorts and sometimes provide project-based forms of teaching and study for small groups of students. In addition, e-learning and blended learning are applied.

Progression of Students

There is no time limit for students to finish their degree programmes, as long as they are registered for the continuation of their studies.

Regarding the repetition of examinations students are entitled to repeat failed examinations three times. All examinations taken in the same subject, under all relevant study programmes at the same University, count towards the permissible number of resits. The statute of each University may state whether further resits are permitted and if so how many may be taken. The third repetition of an examination must be held before an examination board if the examination takes the form of a single procedure.

University of Applied Sciences programmes are scheduled such that courses have to be attended by students in a certain defined order – in contrast to Universities. Therefore only a minor delay in the duration of study is possible. Regarding the repetition of examinations students are entitled to repeat failed examinations twice; a year of study may be repeated once. The average percentage of students dropping out is 22.7 per cent. Many University of Applied Sciences programmes are provided full-time as well as for working students (currently 63 out of a total of 315 University of Applied Sciences programmes), allowing for a flexible organisation of studies.

Definition of the duration of study and semesters of tolerance, etc. is within the responsibility of the Private University.

As Private Universities must base their programmes on international standards (audit during the accreditation procedure), (nearly) all study courses have a modular structure and use ECTS credits.

Employability

Public Universities

Employability at Austrian Public Universities see Bachelor Programmes.

Universities of Applied Sciences

Pursuant to the University of Applied Sciences Studies Act - as amended (Fachhochschul-Studiengesetz, FHStG), University of Applied Sciences degree programmes are based on the following principles and objectives:

• the master programmes serve a scientifically founded professional education;

• ensuring a practice-oriented education on a university level; and

• imparting the ability to solve problems in the respective profession according to the state of the art and practical requirements.

Matching with the labour market is one of the major goals of this type of education.

Private Universities

In designing their curricula, Private Universities have to consider explicitly aspects of employability. This means, the qualification objectives need to be defined for the whole programme as well as for individual modules and courses. The course contents, as well as knowledge, skills and competences to be acquired through the course of study are the basis of audit by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria.

Student Assessment

Public Universities

The examination regulations for the individual curricula must be laid down by the responsible collegial board. This includes, in particular, regulations concerning the method and purpose of examinations and the way in which they are organized. As a result, the institutions have adequate leeway in designing examinations.

The final examination is the master's examination. Moreover a master's thesis is required; this must be an independent scientific or artistic piece of work.

The positive results at examinations and regarding scientific or artistic theses are graded:

• "very good" (sehr gut) (1),

• "good" (gut) (2),

• "satisfactory" (befriedigend) (3) or

• "passed" (genügend) (4);

the negative result is graded:

• "failed" (nicht genügend) (5).

Intermediate assessments are not admissible. Whenever this type of grading is impossible or inappropriate, the positive grade must be "attended successfully" (mit Erfolg teilgenommen) and the negative grade must read "attended without success" (ohne Erfolg teilgenommen). Examinations that consist of several subjects or parts may only be given a positive grade if every subject or part received a positive grade.

Examinations that were taken in the course of other studies or at another recognized Austrian or foreign post-secondary educational institution must be recognized by way of official notification, to the extent that they are equivalent to the examinations required by the curriculum. The examinations taken for a subject at an Austrian University or at a University in the European Union or the European Economic Area must be recognized for the same subject in the respective programme of another Austrian University in any event if the ECTS credits are the same or deviate from each other only slightly.

There are several multilateral and bilateral agreements on the recognition of examinations.

Universities of Applied Sciences

There is no central statutory provision governing examination regulations at Universities of Applied Sciences; their examination regulations are defined according to the standards issued by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (see guidelines of the Universities of Applied Sciences Council), which also accredits them. University of Applied Sciences master and diploma programmes are completed by a diploma examination consisting of submission of a diploma paper and the final exam before a committee. The results at examinations and regarding papers at Universities of Applied Sciences are graded as follows:

• with distinction;

• excellent;

• very good;

• passed;

• failed).

Private Universities

There is no central statutory provision governing examination regulations at Private Universities; examination regulations are audited by international experts in the framework of course accreditation. Private Universities may autonomously design examination methods and schedules.

Certification

Public Universities


Upon successful completion of all achievements required by a particular curriculum, the relevant academic degree is awarded by way of a written official notification promptly, at the latest, though, within one month after satisfaction of the requirements. The official notification must indicate, in particular, the completed study programme and the academic degree and the legal basis (e.g. the Universities Act 2002 - as amended and the relevant curriculum).

The following Master's degrees are awarded:

• Master of Art (MArt)

• Master of Arts (MA)

• Master of Engineering (MEng)

• Master of Law (ML)

• Master of Science (MSc)

• Master of Social Science (MSocSc)

• Master of Theology (MTh)

• Master (for individual studies) (MA)

If a degree programme is completed on the basis of a joint degree programme, it is admissible under certain conditions that the academic degree is awarded in one joint document, together with the partner institution.

For the purpose of supporting international mobility of graduates, students are entitled to be issued a Diploma Supplement pursuant to Article IX.3 of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, in connection with the official notification of being awarded the academic degree.

If an Austrian academic degree is urgently needed for the exercise of a certain professional activity – i.e. if the activity falls under an area with statutory regulations and the professional recognition pursuant to EU law does not apply – holders may apply to an institution with subject-matter competence for nostrification of their foreign academic degree. The nostrification procedure is not a degree programme but an administrative procedure. In a few exceptional cases (e.g. regarding many students from Italy or Croatia) bilateral agreements, instead of nostrification, allow equivalency to be established by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.

Universities of Applied Sciences

After completion of the studies and examinations required for a University of Applied Sciences programme, students are awarded a degree. If the degree is conferred at an institution which is not a University of Applied Sciences, the conferral is effected by the University of Applied Sciences collegiate board or the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria. The academic degree for University of Applied Sciences master programmes is “Master” or “Diplom-Ingenieur(in)“ with a suffix describing the discipline. Admissible degrees, suffixes and abbrevations of degrees are established by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria, subject to approval by the Federal Minister. For individual Universities of Applied Sciences programmes the respective degrees together with the additional designations are to be established by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria in the accredition decree.

Private Universities

By virtue of their accreditation by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria, Private Universities are entitled to confer recognised Austrian academic degrees on their students.


Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure


Diploma Programmes (Diplomstudien)

In addition to bachelor and master programmes, also diploma programmes are provided at Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences and Private Universities. Private Universities only offer the fields of Human Medicine and Catholic Theology as diploma programmes. There are still 4 diploma programmes provided by Universities of Applied Sciences, however, those are being phased out.

Diploma programmes have a duration of 8 to 10 semesters and are concluded with an academic degree:“Magister/Magistra” or “Diplom-Ingenieur/in”, with a suffix designated by the curriculum and the addition of “FH)”. These programmes are governed by the same provisions as those applicable to bachelor and master programmes.

Branches of Study

The following groups of studies are offered:

• Art and Humanities

• Arts

• Economic Sciences

• Engineering Sciences Law

• Medical and Health Sciences

• Natural Sciences

• Social Sciences

• Teacher Training

• Theology

• Veterinary Medicine

Every study programme must be clearly attributable to one of the aforementioned groups, since this determines the academic degree.

Whenever necessary, a student may follow an individual study programme – with the approval of the University, though – which will be a combination of examination subjects from different study programmes.

Admission Requirements

Admission to a diploma programme requires the following:

• the general University entrance qualification;

• at Public Universities the specific University entrance qualification for the chosen study programme;

• knowledge of the German language;

• proof of artistic aptitude in case of artistic programmes;

• proof of aptitude for physical/motor skills for teacher training programmes in physical education (Leibeserziehung) and for the degree programmes in sports sciences (Sportwissenschaften).

As a matter of principle, compliance with the general University entrance qualification for bachelor's degree programmes is provided by the secondary school-leaving examination (Reifeprüfung/Matura). For medical studies and psychology, every applicant has to pass an admission test.

Admission to diploma degree programmes in the arts is based on aptitude ascertained by admission examinations, the secondary school-leaving examination is required for only a few art-studies. A minimum age of 17 years is required for enrolling as a degree-programme student, or 15 years in exceptional cases when studying instruments.

Examinations that were taken in the course of other studies or at another recognized Austrian or foreign post-secondary educational institution, a Higher Vocational School, a Higher Institute for the Training of Teachers and Instructors, another recognized Austrian educational institution, where admission requires the general University entrance qualification, or which were taken at the end of a university-level course, must be recognized by way of official notification, to the extent that they are equivalent to the examinations required by the curriculum. The examinations taken for a subject at an Austrian University or at an University in the European Union or the European Economic Area must be recognized for the same subject in the respective programme of another Austrian University in any event if the ECTS credits are the same or deviate from each other only slightly.

A newly organised introductory and orientation phase was first implemented by the Universities at the beginning of the academic year 2011/12. It applies to programmes that are not subject to a specific admission regulation. Universities are allowed to organise the introductory and orientation phase based on the needs of the various subjects within the statutory framework. Depending on the University and Department, this phase encompasses from 4 to 30 ECTS; it lasts one semester, during which students must take at least two exams. For these exams, only one resit is possible. Students must successfully complete the introductory and orientation phase in order to continue their programme. Furthermore, new admission periods have been introduced as of the winter semester 2012/13: the Rector’s Office at each University determines the admission period for each semester. For the winter semester, such periods must last at least 8 weeks for bachelor and diploma programmes, and end on 5 September, and for the summer semester they must last for at least four weeks and end on 5 February.

Curriculum

A curriculum must be drawn up and announced for each degree programme that is offered. It is the central document of every degree programme. It governs, in particular, the qualification profile and the structure of the programme (which may consist of different stages, for example), as well as the examination subjects and the courses required prior to taking an examination, other achievements (always defining the scope of the achievement in ECTS credits) and the way in which examinations must be taken.

The scope of a diploma-degree programme must be indicated exclusively in terms of the credits established under the European Course Credit Transfer System (ECTS). This system is an important mobility-promoting instrument. The workload for a diploma programme must be 240 to 360 ECTS credits, depending on the field of studies.

The examination regulations for the individual curricula must be laid down by the responsible collegial board. This includes, in particular, regulations concerning the method and purpose of examinations and the way in which they are organized. As a result, the institutions have adequate leeway in designing examinations.

The final examination is the diploma examination. Moreover a diploma thesis is required; this must be an independent scientific or artistic piece of work.

Progression of Students

There are several multilateral and bilateral agreements on the recognition of examinations.

It is not admissible to appeal against an examination grade. If the organization of the examination, at which the negative grade was obtained, had major shortcomings, the body responsible for the law regulating university studies must repeal this examination by way of official notification upon application of the student. A student’s participation in the examination that was repealed shall not be counted against the admissible number of times the student may take the examination.

Certification

Upon successful completion of all achievements required by a particular curriculum, the relevant academic degree is awarded by way of a written official notification promptly, at the latest, though, within one month after satisfaction of the requirements. The official notification must indicate, in particular, the completed study programme and the academic degree and the legal basis (e.g. the Universities Act 2002 - as amended and the relevant curriculum).

The following diploma degrees are awarded:

• Diplom-Ingenieur / Diplom-Ingenieurin (Dipl.-Ing. or DI)

• Diplom-Ingenieur (FH) / Diplom-Ingenieurin (FH) (Dipl.-Ing. (FH) or DI (FH))

• Diplom-Tierarzt / Diplom-Tierärztin (Mag. med. vet.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der gesamten Heilkunde (Dr. med. univ.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Humanmedizin und der Zahnmedizin (Dr. med. univ. et med. dent.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Zahnheilkunde (Dr. med. dent.)

• Magister / Magistra der Architektur (Mag. arch.)

• Magister / Magistra der Künste (Mag. art.)

• Magister / Magistra der Naturwissenschaften (Mag. rer. nat.)

• Magister / Magistra der Pharmazie (Mag. pharm.)

• Magister / Magistra der Philosophie (Mag. phil.)

• Magister / Magistra der Philosophie der Theologischen Fakultät (Mag. phil. fac. theol.)

• Magister / Magistra der Rechtswissenschaften (Mag. iur.)

• Magister / Magistra der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften (Mag. rer. soc. oec.)

• Magister / Magistra der Theologie (Mag. theol.)

• Magister / Magistra des Industrial Design (Mag. des. ind.)

• Magister / Magistra des Rechts der Wirtschaft (Mag. iur. rer. oec.)

• Magister / Magistra (for individual studies) (Mag.)

• Magister (FH) / Magistra (FH) (Mag. (FH))

If a degree programme is completed on the basis of a joint degree programme, it is admissible under certain conditions that the academic degree is awarded in one joint document, together with the partner institution.

For the purpose of supporting international mobility of graduates, students are entitled to be issued a Diploma Supplement pursuant to Article IX.3 of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, in connection with the official notification of being awarded the academic degree.

If an Austrian academic degree is urgently needed for the exercise of a certain professional activity – i.e. if the activity falls under an area with statutory regulations and the professional recognition pursuant to EU law does not apply – holders may apply to an institution with subject-matter competence for nostrification of their foreign academic degree. The nostrification procedure is not a degree programme but an administrative procedure. In a few exceptional cases (e.g. regarding many students from Italy or Croatia) bilateral agreements, instead of nostrification, allow equivalency to be established by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.

University Continuing Education Courses

Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences also provide continuing education courses, imparting (post-graduate) further education.

Public Universities offer especially continuing education courses for their graduates as well as other target audiences. These courses are marked by a high degree of diversity in terms of fields, target groups and entrance and credit possibilities. They are almost exclusively designed for working people.

The bulk of university continuing education courses are certificate university programmes for further education (Universitätslehrgänge, ULG). The Senate of the University decides about the continuing education offer and may establish internationally customary master degrees for certificate University programmes for further education, if the curricula, admission requirements and scope are adequate. Pursuant to the Universities Act 2002 - as amended, the designation "Akademische …" or "Akademischer …” with an addition specifying the contents of the respective further education course may be conferred upon the graduates of those further education courses that cover at least 60 ECTS credits. In addition to certificate University programmes for further education, Universities may also provide short courses (e.g. seminars, workshops, lectures, classes), summer school, summer academies, company programmes, etc. The University for Continuing Education Krems exclusively provides continuing education courses in the form of certificate University programmes for further education.

In addtion to Public Universities, also Private Universities provide certificate University programmes for further education.



Providers of Universities of Applied Sciences programmes may offer post-gradute certificate University programmes for further education in the disciplines for which their University of Applied Sciences programmes have been accredited.

The curriculum of a continuing education course may provide for master degrees as internationally customary in the respective field, which are to be conferred on the graduates of these courses the entrance conditions, scope and requirements of which are comparable to similar master programmes abroad. The quality of teaching shall by ensured by a scientifically and didactically qualified teaching staff.

Furthermore, the designation "Akademische …" or "Akademischer …” with an addition specifying the contents of the respective further education course may be conferred upon the graduates of those further education courses that cover at least 60 ECTS credits.

Before setting up a course, the providers have to send the curricula to the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria. If the above conditions are not met, the Universities of Applied Sciences Council has to forbid the continuing education course within three months of receipt by the clerk of the Universities of Applied Sciences Council.

Students of a continuing education course have to pay a course fee. It is to be established based on actual costs. To the documents on the award of designations, translations into foreign languages may be added, in which the names of the provider and of the issuing institution as well as the designation itself shall not be translated.

Depending on their admission and qualifications criteria, some university continuing education courses meet the Bologna requirements.


Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes


Organisation of Doctoral Studies

Doctoral degree programmes are set up by Public Universities and Private Universities. These institutions are entitled to award a doctoral degree. Being the central document of every degree programme, Universities have to develop and publish a curriculum for each doctoral programme set up by the University. The curriculum governs, in particular, the qualification profile of the programme, the kind of doctoral degree awarded, and the structure of the programme, specifying courses and other requirements, examinations and examination subjects, and the submission of the thesis.

At many Universities, doctoral candidates, supervisor/s and the University sign an agreement on the doctoral thesis project. In general, the doctoral thesis agreement comprises all participants' rights and obligations, a detailed description of the doctoral thesis project, the time schedule, the extent of supervision (frequency of feedback meetings) and requirements that have to be fulfilled by the doctoral candidate (e.g. individual course work, published articles).

Public Universities have set up doctoral programmes in all the main fields of study. Within the legal framework of the University Act - as amended, Public Universities are autonomous in designing the curricula of doctoral degree programmes. The duration of a doctoral programme has to be at least 3 years. The preparation of a doctoral thesis forms the essential part of doctoral degree programmes. Regulations for supervision and for the assessment of doctoral theses are defined by the statutes of Public Universities.

Doctoral training is organised according to disciplines or by organisational structures that bring related disciplines together, but may also be organised on an interdisciplinary or inter-institutional basis. These thematic units and the researchers affiliated with them represent the doctoral candidates’ scientific community and are responsible for doctoral training. A number of Universities have implemented organisational structures at faculty or university level in order to support doctoral candidates and/or provide specific courses (e.g. a doctoral centre).

Most of doctoral training at Public Universities is organised in the form of non-structured doctoral programmes. In addition, Universities offer structured doctoral programmes, in general organised in doctoral schools (e.g .“Doktoratskollegs”, „Initiativkollegs“) which combine a number of doctoral candidates who do research to a predeterminated topic or research theme or a cross-disciplinary research area, and who are employed by the University. To receive a place in a structured doctoral programme candidates have to succeed in a competitive application procedure. Universities decide autonomously on the types of doctoral training offered.

Doctoral programmes at Private Universities are accredited by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria. In general, the duration of doctoral programmes at Private Universities is 3 years. At the moment, Private Universities offer doctoral programmes in the fields “Health and Medical Science” and “Arts and Humanities”, but so far not organised in doctoral schools.

Universities of Applied Sciences are not entitled to award a doctoral degree.

Admission Requirements

Admission to a doctoral programme is done by the University.

In general, compliance with the general University entrance qualification for doctoral programmes is provided by the successful completion of a relevant diploma or master degree programme, University of Applied Sciences diploma or master degree programme or other equivalent programme at a recognized domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institution. Whenever an applicant has obtained a foreign admission title, its equivalency to the corresponding Austrian admission titles must be reviewed. In many cases, equivalency is given by multilateral and/or bilateral agreements. In all other cases, equivalency must be decided on a case by case basis; if necessary, supplementary examinations may be required as an admission condition.

Specific University qualification means that in addition to the general University entrance qualification, proof must be given that specific admission requirements for the relevant degree programme are met, including the right to immediate admission to a doctoral programme, as they exist in the country issuing the document that is proof of the general University entrance qualification.

The curriculum of a doctoral programme awarding a PhD degree may prescribe qualitative requirements for the admission to the respective programme. For PhD programmes that are offered exclusively in a foreign language the University can determine the number of students and restrict admission by means of an admission procedure.

In structured doctoral programmes organised in doctoral schools doctoral candidates are in general employed by the University. For these positions there is a competitive admission procedure.

Private Universities apply the same standard requirements for admission to doctoral programmes as Public Universities, but can establish additional selection procedures for admission.

Status of Doctoral Students/Candidates

Doctoral candidates are legally considered as students (see University Act 2002 - as amended), being enrolled at a University and having in principle access to financial aid and grants, family allowance and health insurance (covered under parents’ health insurance), but depending on age, income and progress or length of study.

At the same time, pursuant to the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct, doctoral candidates are considered to be young researchers or early-stage researchers. Universities have the goal to provide for fair working conditions of doctoral candidates and, if possible, employment contracts with full social security coverage. In general, doctoral candidates in doctoral schools (e.g. “Doktoratskollegs”, “Initiativkollegs”) are employed on fixed term contracts by the University.

In common, the same principles apply for doctoral students/candidates at Private Universities.

Results of the National Student Survey 2009 show that the majority of doctoral candidates (78 %) have a job, 31 % of the doctoral candidates have a job which has a connection with their doctoral study programme.

Supervision Arrangements

At Public Universities, doctoral training is organised according to disciplines, related disciplines or in interdisciplinary programmes. In terms of quality assurance, these thematic units and the researchers affiliated represent the faculty responsible for doctoral training and the quality of doctoral training.

Each doctoral candidate must have a main supervisor who is a faculty member of the University at which the candidate is enrolled. In general, doctoral candidates is given the possibility of suggesting a supervisor.

Individual supervision is the predominating type of supervision in non-structured programmes, based on the concept of a bilateral relationship between supervisor and doctoral candidate. In recent years, this concept has been broadened, for example by dissertation committees, or by a supervising team, especially in structured doctoral programmes or doctoral schools. Doctoral candidates obtain guidance not just from the main supervisor, but from a team of researchers or from several other scholars, thus also taking account of interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and international aspects.

Universal regulations for supervision are part of the statutes of Universities and the curricula of doctoral programmes. For the individual doctoral candidate, the extent of supervision, evaluation of progress and the frequency of feedback meetings are part of the doctoral thesis agreement between doctoral candidate, supervisor/s and University. The monitoring of quality of supervision is the responsibility of the institutional quality assurance system.

At Private Universities, supervision arrangements are part of the curricula. In addition, the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria monitors the quality standards in supervision of doctoral students/candidates.

Employability

The qualification profile of a specific doctoral programme is part of the curriculum.

Most curricula include courses teaching transferable skills. In addition to the training in their fields, doctoral candidates have the opportunity to acquire additional skills and qualifications that could be useful for both a research career and other higher-level positions outside Universities or Research Institutions. These competencies enhance career opportunities of graduates on the job market. Attendance of relevant courses can be mandatory or voluntary.

For example courses teaching transferable skills include: foreign languages, English for specific purposes, information technology and communication, time management, presentation skills, project management, research management and knowledge management, preparation of research grant applications, research ethics, publishing, teaching.

Assessment

The curriculum specifies the examination subjects and the coursework required prior to taking an examination, other tasks and achievements required (e.g. articles published in peer-reviewed journals), and the way in which examinations must be taken.

Positive results of examinations and the thesis are graded:

• "very good" (sehr gut) (1),

• "good" (gut) (2),

• "satisfactory" (befriedigend) (3) or

• "passed" (genügend) (4);

a negative result is graded:

• "failed" (nicht genügend) (5).

Whenever this type of grading is impossible or inappropriate, the positive grade must be "attended successfully" and the negative grade "attended without success". Examinations that consist of several subjects or parts may only be given a positive grade if each subject or part received a positive grade.

Examinations that were taken in the course of other studies or at another recognized Austrian or foreign post-secondary educational institution must be recognized by way of official notification; they have to be equivalent to the examinations required by the curriculum. Recognitions may be laid down generally in the curriculum or be granted by way of official notification in individual cases. This is important mainly for participating in mobility programmes. There are several multilateral and bilateral agreements on the recognition of examinations.

Universities have adequate leeway in designing examinations. Examination regulations for the different curricula must be laid down by the responsible collegial board. This includes, in particular, regulations concerning the method and purpose of examinations and the way in which they are organized.

The final examination is the Rigorosum, which is a public examination, and refers to the doctoral thesis. The doctoral thesis is the core element of the doctoral study. It is the result of independent research carried out by a doctoral candidate. The thesis has to demonstrate the doctoral candidate‘s ability to pursue original research and his/her knowledge of the scientific methods used in the research field. There has to be a positive evaluation of the thesis submitted, in general by two scientists assigned for assessing the thesis. The curriculum may allow that the thesis is composed of a set of articles related methodically and in terms of content.

Some doctoral programmes make it a requirement for the acceptance of the doctoral thesis that the thesis or results of it have been published, in general in a peer-reviewed journal.

Certification

Upon successful completion of all tasks and examinations required by the curriculum of a doctoral programme, the relevant academic degree is awarded by way of a written official notification promptly, at the latest, though, within one month after satisfaction of the requirements. The official notification specifies the completed doctoral programme, the academic degree and the legal basis (i.e. the Universities Act 2002 -as amended and the relevant curriculum).

The following doctoral degrees are awarded:

• Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Bodenkultur (Dr. nat. techn.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der gesamten Heilkunde und der medizinischen Wissenschaft (Dr. med. univ. et scient. med.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der medizinischen Wissenschaft (Dr. scient. med.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der montanistischen Wissenschaften (Dr. mont.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Pflegewissenschaft (Dr. rer. cur.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Naturwissenschaften (Dr. rer. nat.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Philosophie (Dr. phil.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Philosophie einer Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät (Dr. phil. fac. theol.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Rechtswissenschaften (Dr. iur.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften (Dr. rer. soc. oec.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der technischen Wissenschaften (Dr. techn.

• Doktor / Doktorin der Theologie (Dr. theol.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der veterinärmedizinischen Wissenschaften (Dr. med. vet. et scient. Or Dr. scient. vet.)

• Doktor / Doktorin der Zahnmedizin und der medizinischen Wissenschaft (Dr. med. dent. et scient. med.)

If a degree programme is completed on the basis of a joint degree programme, the academic degree may be awarded in one joint document, together with the partner University.


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