The "General School Regulations" decreed by Empress Maria Theresa in 1774 laid the cornerstone for Austria´s education system. By the nineteenth century the three areas of education - general schools, vocational schools and teacher training colleges - had reached an advanced stage of development. Eight-year compulsory education was introduced in 1869.

In modern-day Austria compulsory schooling lasts nine years. The four-year elementary school (ages 6 to 10) is followed by secondary education (in either a "Hauptschule" or the lower classes of an "allgemein bildende höhere Schule"). Pupils who leave school at fourteen and do not intend to pursue further school education can enrol at a Polytechnical Course which prepares them for working life. Apprentices are required to attend a vocational school.

The upper segment of secondary education is covered by a range of school types: "allgemein bildende höhere Schulen" providing a general education with the emphasis either on the arts or on sciences but also vocational schools at various levels. A school-leaving certificate acquired at one of the above school types entitles the holder to enrol at university.

Austria´s school system is governed by uniform regulations nationwide. No fees are charged for attendance at state-run schools. School text books and travel to and from school are largely free of charge. The education policy currently being implemented is seeking to give schools a wider degree of autonomy. This entails upgrading the responsibilities of the school bodies made up of teachers, pupils and parents in all school types. Since the 1994/95 winter term, study courses have been available at specialised colleges. Graduates receive academic degrees.

In determining principles of educational policy for the new century, educational administrators consider major trends such as population growth or socio-political changes such as increased individualisation. Technology and culture have developed in such a way that even small children nowadays have to learn how to cope with the new media. Media education and the use of computers and the Internet are part of the major extentions to the school syllabus.

All Austrian education should be seen in relation to the European educational programme entitled SOCRATES II. Of particular importance are the schooling programme COMENIUS and the GRUNDVIG programme for further and adult education, as well as the language and technology programmes ATLAS and LINGUA. With the aid of these initiatives, numerous trans-national projects will be tackled.In the school year 2002/2003 some 1.2 million pupils were taught in 6014 Austrian schools.
(Source: Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs)


Universität Wien


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