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The different types of higher education in Austria - an overview

Since 1993 it has been possible in Austria not only to study at a university, but also at universities of applied sciences. There are good reasons for both types of university. So that you can make a better decision when it comes to choosing a course of study, we provide an overview of the various types of higher education in Austria and answer the question below what the difference is between a university and a FH.

If you would like to have a general overview of all universities in Austria, then just take a look at our large database; We have listed all universities, universities of applied sciences and the like with all their studies there.

What types of higher education are there in Austria?

The state universities are the highest educational institutions. Universities have the largest range of courses and, depending on the course chosen, you can enroll without going through a selection process.

State universities

Universities of applied sciences are characterized by practical studies. The study places are limited, so that only a certain number of new students can be accepted per academic year. Then there is an application and admission process.

Universities of applied sciences

The pedagogical universities emerged from the pedagogical academies (P├ĄdAks). As the name suggests, they are specifically responsible for the training of future educators (teachers, vocational school teachers).

Pedagogical colleges

Before the private university, private universities formed the smallest and youngest part of the higher education system. You have the option of being recognized as a private university by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria and thus awarding academic degrees.

Private universities

The private university is the most recent addition among the types of university. Although it has to meet fewer criteria than the private university, it must have a certain range of courses and teaching staff. Find out more here!

Private universities

Are there differences between the various institutions?

Yes there are differences! There are differences, especially between universities and universities of applied sciences, which you should take into account when choosing a course of study:

Admission / application

There are fewer admission restrictions for courses offered at public universities. Depending on the degree, anyone can enroll and start studying. This has led to full lecture halls, especially in recent years, which has affected the study conditions. But there are also studies in which the universities are allowed to implement limitations. This applies, for example, to human medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and psychology.

In the case of courses offered at universities of applied sciences, however, the number of places is limited. So there is a limited number of study places and so it may happen that not every applicant can start studying. That is why there is always an application and admission procedure at a university of applied sciences. For some courses, the rush is so great that only a fraction of the applicants are accepted. But there are also courses for which fewer people apply than there are places and then every applicant can study.

Practical or theoretical course content

The University of Applied Sciences courses claim to place more emphasis on practical professional training and still convey scientifically sound content. This means that the course content is designed in a practical way and as a student you are taught a direct link to working life. This also means that a practical semester or at least an internship during the semester break is often compulsory.

At universities, the focus is clearly more on science. If you are aiming for a scientific career or if you place more value on the in-depth teaching of teaching material, the university is the right place for you.

Study organization

The courses at universities of applied sciences are more thoroughly organized than the university courses. Especially with a view to the individual structuring of the course, the university courses usually leave much more leeway. In the case of university studies, entry is usually also possible in the summer semester, while in the case of universities of applied sciences this is often only possible in the winter semester.

Variety of studies

As you can see, there are some advantages and disadvantages of both types of higher education. You also have to note that universities of applied sciences do not offer all courses in full. They are mostly more technology or economic. Universities, on the other hand, also offer "small" subjects (such as African Studies) and thus a larger range of different courses. However, universities of applied sciences have particularly innovative business studies in their program because they are more geared towards the current job market than universities.