Plenty of educational institutions are available in Lower Austria.
Nursery schools for the youngest, international kindergartens,
bilingual schools, tertiary education such as universities.
Unique in Austria: The dual vocational education and training (VET) programme.
IN A NUTSHELL:
EDUCATION IN (LOWER) AUSTRIA
Childcare is given top priority in (Lower) Austria. Kindergartens can be used free of charge in the morning. This gives parents the opportunity to pursue their jobs. Parents can choose between public and private kindergartens. There are also some international bilingual nurseries and kindergartens.
Compulsory schooling begins at the age of 6 years and lasts nine years. The first four years are the elementary level. One bilingual elementary school is situated in St. Pölten. Afterwards pupils can attend a grammar school (‘Neue Mittelschule’) or a general secondary school (‘AHS’). At this level languages, in particular, are an essential part of the curriculum. Then, at the age of 14, pupils can choose from a variety of options: from polytechnic-like colleges leading to a subsequent apprenticeship, through to a vocational secondary school or a more academic high school – the last two pathways conclude with final exams that provide an entry ticket to a university or tertiary education.
The tertiary education sector in Lower Austria has developed significantly over the past two decades. It comprises four universities of applied sciences, four private universities, two teaching colleges and three theological seminaries. There are numerous study programmes taught in English.
How old is your child?
1 TO 3 YEARS
The crèche (Krabbelstube) is a form of day care for children up to 3 years of age. The daily routine and environment are specifically geared to the needs of the children. In Lower Austria, many of the crèches are privately run. Childcare can be booked flexibly and by the day and is oriented towards the needs of working parents. The costs vary depending on the childcare facility.
Crèches in Lower Austria
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3 TO 6 YEARS
The kindergarten supports and complements family education. The children are pedagogically supervised and well looked after in the community. They can play, have fun, enjoy movement and plenty of space. For experimenting, observing or imitating. This promotes (social) development, reveals talents and ultimately supports the achievement of school readiness. The needs of the children are also the focus here.
Legally compulsory kindergarten year
Half-day kindergarten attendance (at least 20 hours) is compulsory and free of charge* for all children who have reached the age of five by 31 August. This applies from September to June – with the exception of school holidays. If your child attends the compulsory kindergarten year in a private kindergarten, a subsidy can be applied for from the province of Lower Austria on the basis of the legal provisions. There is a maximum of 25 children per group.
Admission to kindergarten must be applied for at the municipality of residence. It is essential to observe the deadlines for registration. The application must be submitted by the end of February before the start of the next kindergarten year (in September) at the latest. During the kindergarten year, admission is only possible with the agreement of the kindergarten management and the municipality.
Kindergarten attendance is free of charge from 7.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. in all Lower Austrian state kindergartens. Please note: Contributions for snacks, lunch as well as play and support material will be charged. Afternoon care in Lower Austria is subject to a fee and is also only offered on demand.
Kindergartens in Lower Austria (public and private)
List of Lower Austrian kindergartens: www.noe.gv.at
Overview of the education system: www.bildungssystem.at
FROM 6 YEARS
Providing a brief overview about the Austrian Education System is frankly not as easy as you may expect. However, here are the basics you should know for the beginning. Here you will find information about the compulsory education, vocational training, types of education, grading, holidays and much more. So you can choose the best option for your childs future.
Good to know
Everything about costs, classes, deadlines, holidays, home schooling
All children who live in Austria must attend one year of kindergarten and attend school from ages 6 to 15.
There are 9 years of compulsory education in total, the classes are divided according to age.
State-run schools are free of charge whereas private schools charge a monthly tuition fee ranging from around €150 to €600 or more. Public schools accept children who speak very little German as so-called non-regular pupils (außerordentliche/r Schüler/in). This means they attend school with the other children and can advance to the next level, but they are granted two years in which they are not graded and can acquire basic German language skills. Schools also usually offer language-support courses.
School enrolment & school books
Enrolment for primary school takes place directly at the respective school through a meeting between the school management, parent(s) and the child. The registration deadline is set by the regional education board usually in November for the following school year. You should receive an invitation letter from the city or provincial education authority where you live.
In public schools, all pupils receive free school- books for all subjects, and bilingual children can request books on German as a second language as well as bilingual dictionaries.
Home schooling is permitted in Austria. Parents simply need to apply for home schooling at the beginning of each school year and make sure the education their children receive is at least equivalent to that offered at public schools. At the end of each year the pupils must take an external exam (Externistenprüfung).
School year & holidays
Two terms. From September to June
School starts in Austria at the beginning of September and is separated into two semesters. Reports are issued in February and certificates at the end of the school year at the end of June. There are nine weeks of summer holidays between July and September.
Winter & summer term
from September to February and from February to June.
The general school holidays include:
- one week in February between the two terms (Semesterferien)
- one-and-a-half weeks for Easter (Osterferien)
- four days around Pentecost (Pfingstferien)
- nine weeks in summer (Sommerferien)
- five days in October (Herbstferien)
- two weeks around Christmas (Weihnachtsferien)
Scholastic achievements are usually graded with scores from 1 to 5. A grade of 1 for very good (Sehr gut), followed by 2 for good (Gut), 3 for satisfactory (Befriedigend), 4 for sufficient (Genügend), and 5 for insufficient (Nicht Genügend), or fail.
Primary School (Volksschule): 6 to 10 years of age (1st to 4th school year)
On their first day of school, children in Austria receive a large cornet filled with little presents and sweets (Schultüte). Six-year-old pupils not yet deemed ready for school (schulreif) may start with a pre-school (Vorschule) class or be required to repeat the first grade. Pupils can move up or down a level during the school year, upon recommendation by parents or teachers.
New middle school (Neue Mittelschule/NMS): 10 to 14 years of age (5th to 8th school year)
NMS prepares pupils for future vocational training according to individual interests, abilities, disposition and skills. NMS graduates can go on to an intermediate or higher vocational school, or to an upper-level AHS (9th to 12th or 13th school years). Beginning with the 7th school year, NMS pupils pursue advanced lessons in German, math and foreign language (similar to AHSs) or they receive basic instruction, depending upon each pupil’s interests and career goals.
General high school (Allgemein bildende höhere Schule/AHS)
An AHS provides comprehensive and immersive education for pupils who plan to continue education at an academic level. The goal is the Matura diploma, which is required for university studies. Commonly referred to as Gymnasium, an AHS consists of a four-year lower level (5th through 8th school years) and a four-year upper level (9th through 12th/13th school years). The upper level is comparable to college-prep high schools in the USA or to grammar school and sixth-form colleges in the UK.
Special needs: 6 to 15 years of age (1st to 9th school year)
The schooling for children and teenage pupils with special needs can take place at a special school suited to the relevant disability or an integral form at a common school.
What’s next? What are your childs interests? After nine years of compulsory school they have to make a choice. Austria’s education system offers three main ways to acquire vocational training: the dual vocational education and training (VET) program (duale Berufsausbildung), and two predominantly school-based programs.
NMS students and lower-secondary AHS graduates wishing to learn a profession and who have finished their eighth year of education must spend one year at a pre-vocational school (Polytechnische Schule) to wrap up nine years of compulsory schooling. At the pre-vocational school, pupils are familiarized with a selection of around 200 available apprenticeships through visits to companies and training workshops.
Dual vocational education and training (VET) program
To be admitted, pupils must have signed a vocational training contract. In the VET program, pupils spend 80% of their time being trained at a company. The remaining 20% is devoted to deepening their general education and acquiring work-relevant theoretical knowledge at a vocational school. The apprenticeship training typically lasts two to four years. It concludes with a practical apprenticeship-leaving examination. Upon successful completion, graduates can attend a Master Craftsman School (Meisterschule) finishing with the mastery exam (Meisterprüfung).
Vocational training in health care: for nurses, massage therapists and medical technicians
Schools for health care and nursing (Schulen für Gesundheits-und Krankenpflege) currently offer a three-year training program in qualified nursing care. Admission prerequisites include 10 years of schooling and the successful completion of an admission interview and/or test. The schools usually cooperate with hospitals, which provide vocational education. At the end of the training, pupils write a thesis and take a diploma exam. Qualified nurses can take up employment, take the higher education entrance examination (Berufsreifeprüfung), or complete advanced training to prepare for leadership roles, or to specialize in children’s/youth care or psychiatric health.
School for higher vocational education
Another vocational training option is a five-year school for higher vocational education (Berufsbildende höhere Schule, or BHS). The BHS offers higher-level vocational training plus a comprehensive general education. These differ by specialization.
The Higher Technical Education Institute (Höhere technische Lehranstalt, or HTL) specializes in technology, engineering or industrial design. This school type has a very high reputation in Austria. The Higher Economic Education Institute (Höhere Lehranstalt für wirtschaftliche Berufe, or HLW) focuses on economics, communication, design and fashion, tourism, nutrition and administration. Business academies (Handelsakademie, or HAK) teach accounting and business administration.
If your child has attended an AHS but wants to additionally acquire vocational training, then a college (Kolleg) might be a suitable option. These four- to six-semester courses (depending on whether the course is full-time or organised in evening classes) are offered by some BHSs. There are colleges focusing on technology, arts and crafts, commerce, trade, elementary or social pedagogy, fashion, tourism and economics.
Theory and practice in harmony. That is Austria’s dual education system. There are around 200 apprenticeships that can be learned in combination with theory and practice. This is the workforce of tomorrow. With sound basic knowledge and subject-specific skills.
UNIVERSITIES IN (LOWER) AUSTRIA
After attending a general or vocational secondary school or a dual apprenticeship training, a tertiary education path can be pursued. Get to know Lower Austria’s renowned universities and universities of applied sciences.
A selection of universities in Lower Austria:
University for Continuing Education Krems
The leading public university for continuing education in Europe with over 8,000 students with a focus on teaching and research work to meet societal challenges. Higher qualification of professionals is the focus at University for Continuing Education Krems – it offers MBA, PhD, MA and certified programs. www.donau-uni.ac.at/en
Karl Landsteiner Private University for Health Care in Krems
The new generation of doctors and health scientists is trained here on the basis of an integrative teaching and research approach. A university hospital network of 24 university hospitals in Eggenburg, Krems, St. Pölten and Tulln ensures quality-assured, research-led teaching and internationally recognised, excellent research in the clinical field. The range of studies includes the core areas of human medicine and psychology. www.kl.ac.at/en
IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems
With 15,000 students, Krems is one of Lower Austria’s higher education hubs. IMC Krems University of Applied Sciences is part of the strongly networked university campus and designs all degree programmes to be particularly practice-oriented. The fields of study include business, digitalisation & technology, health and life sciences.
University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten
Forward-looking university education in the subject areas of Digital Business & Innovation, Media & Digital Technologies, Computer Science & Security, Railway Technology & Mobility With more than 3,400 students, a significant component of Lower Austria as a university location. www.fhstp.ac.at/en?set_language=en
University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt
Austria’s first university of applied sciences and the largest university of applied sciences in Lower Austria. Practical training and international networking have a long tradition here. At four campuses in Lower Austria and Vienna, the following core academic subjects are offered from Bachelor’s to Master’s degree: Business, Technology, Health, Sport and Safety. www.fhwn.ac.at/en/
University of Applied Sciences Wieselburg
A true think tank for marketing, innovation and consumer science with 20 years of market and research experience in the following sectors: Food, Renewable Energy and Organic & Ecological Consumer Goods. The University of Applied Sciences Wieselburg is in the middle of the market, always teaching and researching in the industry specialisations in a practice-oriented and solution-focused way. https://wieselburg.fhwn.ac.at/
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