Austria - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training
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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. According to the 2023 International Education Exchange Open Doors Report, 1,054 Austrians formally enrolled in academic programs longer than 90 days in the United States during the 2022/2023 academic year, a 7.9% increase from the previous year. This increase is an expected trend after the pandemic. 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 in primary school. As they progress through higher education, Austrian students generally have good English skills, which contribute 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 9th among 63 countries worldwide for talent competitiveness, according to the 2023 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 also ranks Austria as 1st in prioritizing employee training and 3rd in implementing apprenticeships. 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.   

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.

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 2,800 secondary schools with around 1.14 million students enrolled for the 2021/2022 academic year. 

Apprenticeship Program

Apprentices in Austria learn professional skills while working at companies, while concurrently gaining theoretical knowledge by attending traditional classes at a college or technical school. The success of this program is a result of a strong collaboration between all responsible bodies on federal, regional, and local levels, as well as the companies. In 2021, there were 107,593 apprentices trained in 212 different apprenticeship occupations, of which 100,713 employed at 28,461 training-companies and 6,880 with 93 inter-company training institutions according to the Austrian Ministry of Labor and Economy.

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.  There may be significant opportunities for travel organizers to sign up as sponsors for these apprentices and organizations.  More details can be found at the Department of State Bridge USA program website (

Higher Education

There are 70 public universities in Austria, of which 13 public universities offer free tuition with students paying modest fees. Specialized universities concentrate on arts (6), medicine (3), applied sciences (21) and teacher education (14). In the 2021/2022 academic year, 391,644 students were enrolled at universities nationwide, a 40% increase from the previous year. The number of international students decreased by 15% to 90,008, which was a result of the Covid-related travel restrictions. The highest 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/Graduate Education

According to Open Doors 2023, 38% of Austrian students studying in the U.S. are at the undergraduate level. This represents a 10.8% increase from previous year (362 students). Graduate students represent 24.1% of Austrian students studying within the U.S. In 2022/2023, 254 students made up the graduate population, a 18.6% decrease from previous year.

Non-degree Education and Optional Practical Training (OPT)

From 2021-2022 to 2022-2023, non-degree students increased from 210 to 280, an increase of 33.3%. 119 OPT students were recorded for 2022-2023.


  • Education Technology (EdTech): The Austrian Ministry of Education is investing in digital and social transformation in public primary/secondary schools and in universities. Platforms such as UniControlling, ANKÖ and OpenTender EU are avenues for education-related public procurements.  For more details on the digitalization in universities, see the Digital University Hub, initiated by the Ministry of Education.
  • Exchange Programs/Intensive English Language Programs (short and long term): Strong interest 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. 
  • Distance Learning:  Partnering with local schools/universities for online and distance learning programs. Local companies are also opting for online professional development training opportunities for their employees.
  • Scholarships and Grants: The Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) manages a series of scholarship programs for international study, including the Erasmus+ program, allowing students to study, teach, complete an internship, or collaborate internationally with partner higher education institutions. Application for this program is through the local universities. 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.  
  • Large International Community: Vienna is a major global hub with at least 40 international organizations, in addition to diplomatic representation and non-governmental organizations, employing more than 4,000 foreigners. This large international population is supported by a growing number of international and bilingual schools that are partnered with international high schools and universities, further expanding their programs for international students.

Market Entry

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.
  • 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 to provide clear and in-depth information about their international programs and the application process, scholarships, grants, and financial aid. As in many European countries, tuition fees in Austria are generally lower than in the United States. Therefore 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. education institutions to meet targeted Austrian universities, schools, and private entities. The U.S. Government’s EducationUSA advising center is also actively promoting study in the U.S. to Austrian students. Austrian students generally apply for international study programs through their local schools or directly to U.S. educational institutions.



U.S. Commercial Service Austria, Education Specialist, Robee Sallegue