Austria - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-12

Capital:  Vienna
Population:  8.9 million (July 2021 est.)
GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $463.1 billion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)
Currency:  Euros (EUR)
Language:  German

UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Austria has 22,138 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook

24.37% of Austria’s population is under 25 years of age.


Highly qualified Austrian students and professionals actively participate in study abroad programs ranging from short-term to full year-long. Austrian professionals attend training programs in the United States at the individual and corporate levels. During the 2019/20 academic year, 1,105 Austrians formally enrolled in academic programs longer than 90 days in the United States, a slight increase from the previous year. According to the 2022 International Educational Exchange Open Doors Report, there has been a decline of about 41% (655 Austrians) in 2020-2021, which was mainly due to the Covid-related travel uncertainties. Despite this decline, the United States remains one of the top study-abroad destinations for Austrian students, ranking 4th place after Germany, the U.K., and Switzerland per UNESCO reporting.   

English is the first foreign language that Austrians learn as early as primary school. As they progress through higher education, Austrian students generally have strong English skills, which contributes to their strong interest in a broad range of studies in the United States, including in the areas of STEM, liberal arts programs, and professional degrees. Leading U.S. study destinations for Austrian students are New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Florida. International study experiences complement Austria’s strong education system allowing students and professionals to further advance their English skills and gain expertise not offered in Austria.  

Austria’s education system ranks 6th among 63 countries worldwide for talent competitiveness, according to the 2021 Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Talent Report. The goal of lifelong learning is highly integrated in the Austrian education system and society. This report ranks Austria 2nd in prioritizing employee training and 3rd in implementing apprenticeships. Austria also reaches higher ranks in quality of education measures at 11th place for primary school and 7th place for secondary school. These high rankings are due partly to the Austrian government’s strong investment in its education system and professional development, which is one of the highest among OECD countries.  

Covid-19 Impact: From March 2020 until December 2021, the Austrian government instituted extensive restrictions, including school closures. Distance learning was quickly adopted with the government providing computers to students as needed. The school year 2021/2022 started with in-person instruction for all schools and universities but had to be switched back to distance learning in November 2021 following the local government’s announcement of the nationwide lockdown due to the increasing Covid-19 cases. On December 12, 2021, schools re-opened with in-person instruction. Austrian government recognition of the importance of education technology and distance learning options is reflected in the Ministry of Education strategic planning and budget through 2024, which  opens opportunities for U.S. solutions providers.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Upper Secondary Education: In Austria, students at the age of 16 may choose either the vocation or academic track program based on their field of interest and academic strengths. The vocational track lasts six years with a focus on practical life skills and preparation for an apprenticeship. This system of vocational training has proven successful in creating a skilled workforce and viable employment options for those who do not attend university. In April of 2022, the United States and Austria signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deepen bilateral cooperation on skilled workforces and apprenticeships, with the aim to equip students and workers across a broad range of industries with occupational competencies developed and valued by employers.

The academic track is comparable to a college preparatory school in the United States. Austrian students, who decide to study in the U.S. for short or long-term programs are typically on an exchange program. They are attracted to the American high school system with classes and sports activities that are not offered in Austria. After secondary education, some students opt for a gap year in the U.S. to earn an additional diploma before studying at a university. Austria has over 2,700 secondary schools with around 1.14 million students enrolled for the 2020/2021 academic year.

Higher Education: There are 70 public and 12 private universities in Austria. Public universities offer free tuition with students paying modest fees. Specialized universities concentrate on arts (6), medicine (3), applied sciences (22) and teacher education (14). In the 2020/2021 academic year, 281,791 students studied in universities nationwide, a 23% decrease from the previous year.    The number of international students increased by 5.14% to 105,984, encouraged by the introduction of the Bologna process and the opening of EU exchange programs to students outside the EU. The good prospects for attracting Austrian students to study in the U.S. lie in the undergraduate and graduate levels. The primary motivators for Austrian students to study in the U.S. include the quality of American academic programs, the availability of scholarship funding, athletic opportunities, and the ability to experience U.S. culture and campus life.

Undergraduate Education: According to Open Doors 2022, 46% of Austrian students studying in the U.S. are at the undergraduate level. This represents a 20.8% decline from last year (304 undergraduate students in 2020-2021 vs. 384 in 2019/2020).

Graduate Education: Graduate students represent 37% of Austrian students studying within the U.S. In 2019/2020, 286 students made up the graduate population, and in 2020/2021, there was a 14% decline for a new total of 245 students studying at the graduate level.

Non-degree Education and Optional Practical Training (OPT): From 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, non-degree students declined from 317 to 28, a deep drop of 91%. 78 OPT students were recorded for 2020-2021.


Education Technology (EdTech): In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Austrian government prioritized investment in digital education. The Austrian Ministry of Education has budgeted $300 million for digitalization efforts in education through 2024. These efforts are designed to provide digital learning equipment and solutions, as well as needed digital infrastructure in public primary and secondary schools. Another $54 million was budgeted for digital and social transformation in universities. These projects are being managed by the appointed groups of public universities that determine the specific needs for implementation. For more details on the digitalization in universities, see the Digital University Hub, initiated by the Ministry of Education that addresses these projects and consults with U.S. Commercial Service Austria. Platforms such as UniControlling, ANKÖ and OpenTender EU are avenues for education-related public procurements.

Distance Learning:  Due to international travel restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, demand has increased for online and distance learning. In addition to students seeking college credit, many Austrian companies are opting for online professional development training opportunities for their employees. Many take advantage of free online education platforms; however, fee-based platforms for specialized or customized courses and formal certifications are also becoming more popular.

Scholarships and Grants: The Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) manages a series of scholarship programs for international study. This includes the popular Erasmus+ Program, funding students to study, teach, complete an internship, or collaborate internationally with partner higher education institutions. To apply for these scholarships and grants, students apply through their home university in Austria to study abroad at their school’s international partner university. Fulbright Austria also has a very active program, providing grants to qualified Austrian students to teach, engage in research or study in the U.S. and offering American students parallel opportunities in Austria.

Exchange Programs/Intensive English Language Programs: Customized exchange programs that vary from short-term during academic breaks to one-year long, are attractive to Austrian university and high school students. Interest is especially strong in unique programs that include STEM and intensive English language courses, hands-on scientific field and lab experiences, and professor-student, and private company engagement. The norm in Austria for school and university exchanges are two-way programs; therefore, U.S. counterparts seeking to attract Austrian students should be prepared to also send their students to Austria.

Large International Community: Vienna is a major global hub with at least 40 international organizations including one of the largest U.N. headquarters, OPEC, in addition to diplomatic representation and non-governmental organizations, among others, employing more than 6,000 of whom three-fourths foreigners. This large international population is supported by a growing number of international and bilingual schools. International schools in Vienna hold solid partnership potential for U.S. high schools and universities to promote their long-term programs for international students.

When entering the Austrian market, it is highly recommended that U.S. institutions consider the following strategies:

  • Seek direct partnerships with public or private universities and secondary schools to facilitate joint programs and exchange programs for students and faculty. Various EU and Austrian scholarships encourage study abroad primarily through university-to-university exchange programs.
  • Participate in local student fairs and outreach events, and meet face-to-face with school counselors, international department heads, and other stakeholders.

U.S. institutions should also provide clear and in-depth information about their international programs and the application process. Information should also be available to describe opportunities for scholarships, grants, and financial aid. Although, as in many European countries, tuition fees in Austria are generally lower than in the United States, fully- or partially funded scholarships or exchange programs offsetting tuition fees are the best way to attract Austrian students.

U.S. Commercial Service Austria offers customized introductions and promotional programs for interested U.S. university and other education institutions to meet targeted Austrian universities, schools, and private entities. The U.S. Government’s EducationUSA advising center is also active in Austria, providing student advising and promoting Study in the United States. Unlike in some other countries, Austrian students generally apply directly to U.S. educational institutions and do not work through private educational representatives to find international study opportunities. For details on the U.S. study visa application process, please visit:


Trade Shows:

  • BeSt³ Student Fair, Vienna, Austria, March 2023 (exact dates to be announced)
  • Bildungsfachmesse Interpädagogica, Vienna, Austria, November 9-11, 2023
  • JugendBildungsmesse JuBi Wien 2022, Vienna, Austria, October 8, 2022
  • EdTech Summit Austria, Salzburg, Austria, (exact 2023 dates to announced)

U.S. Government:

Austrian government

  • Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung - Federal Ministry of Education, Science, and Research
  • Österreichischer Austauschdienst OeAD – Austrian agency for international mobility and cooperation in education, science and research: 

Austrian Grants: