University entrance qualification
Would you like to study at university? Then you need a university entrance qualification to prove that you have successfully completed your secondary education (Matura level). There is a difference between being qualified in general to enter a university and being qualified for a specific university course.
Having a general university entrance qualification means that in principle you may study at a higher education institution. Having a specific university entrance qualification means that you can be admitted onto a particular course. There are several different ways of gaining these qualifications:
An academic entrance qualification
This just means having your school leaving certificate recognised so you can be admitted onto a course. By ‘school leaving certificate’ we mean any certificate, papers or diplomas gained abroad which in the issuing country would give the right in principle to be admitted to study at university. These might be a Matura, Abitur or similar certificate, a record of state school leaving examinations, a record of limited higher education entrance examinations (‘Studying without a Matura’), or other equivalent qualification. This also includes school leaving certificates from European schools and the International Baccalaureate.
Who recognises a school leaving certificate?
At universities and university colleges of teacher education the Rectorate recognises these certificates. The admissions process is completed by the relevant academic department, which looks at the foreign school leaving certificate you have submitted. At universities of applied sciences, the programme director is responsible for this. The best thing to do is to approach your desired higher education institution directly and ask who undertakes the recognition process.
Three possibilities for recognition
There are basically three possibilities for acquiring a general university entrance qualification. This does not include recognition of a specific university entrance qualification, i.e. a qualification which would allow direct admission to the course of your choice in the country in which the school leaving certificate was issued.
- Validated school leaving certificate: Validation (see also ‘Other forms of recognition’) requires you to submit a general university entrance qualification. The university or university of applied sciences will not undertake a further check of the content. This is not the case for an assessment of whether you have achieved a specific university entrance qualification. In that case, a school leaving certificate from the original country will be a determining factor.
- Equivalence by agreement: Austria has multilateral and bilateral agreements with many other countries which state that their school leaving certificates are equivalent. School leaving certificates issued in these countries provide sufficient evidence for a general university entrance qualification. In such cases, no further checking of their content is needed. These countries are listed below.
- Equivalence by a decision of the university: If neither of the above points apply, then it is up to the university in question to declare that a school leaving certificate from abroad is equivalent to an Austrian one. Actual admission to a course can however be dependent on taking additional examinations.
These are certificates issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) where it can be proven that you have lost your school leaving certificate. These should be treated as if they were the original, lost school leaving certificate.
Other forms of recognition
Besides the above types, other forms of recognition exist in other administrative areas.
Two important examples are:
- The BMBWF can declare that a foreign school leaving certificate is fully equivalent to an Austrian one through the process of validation. Validation grants all rights associated with the relevant Austrian school leaving certificate.
- A declaration of equivalence for the purposes of exercising a commercial activity can be made by the department with responsibility for vocational training at the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW).
Please contact the academic department at the individual university or university college of teacher education, or the programme director at the university of applied sciences.
- Information page of ENIC NARIC AUSTRIA (National Academic Recognition Information Centre at the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research)
List of countries with school leaving certificates deemed to be equivalent to Austria’s:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Holy See *
New Zealand *
Russian Federation *
San Marino *
United Kingdom *
* except for certificates which are significantly different to the Austrian education system
** in conjunction with the national admission examination