Austrian National Union of Students
The Austrian National Union of Students (ÖH) provides legal representation for all students in Austria and is thus the student equivalent of a national labour union or a chamber of commerce. Since the Federal Act on the Student Representative Organisations (HSG) was amended in 2014, all domestic and foreign, degree and non-degree seeking students at Austrian universities, universities of applied sciences, university colleges of teacher education and private universities are deemed to be members, whose “general and study-related interests” it represents.
The Austrian National Union of Students (ÖH) is a corporation under public law with compulsory membership which comprises by law all domestic and foreign, degree and non-degree students. Its task is to seek its members’ advancement and represent their interests. It covers cultural, sporting, social and subject-specific matters. Its responsibilities include representing its members’ general and study-related interests, especially in dealings with government authorities and institutions as well as other university bodies.
The Austria-wide student parliament, the Federal Body of Representatives
The Federal Body of Representatives is the Union’s most important body and is a type of Austria-wide student parliament. It has 55 elected representatives (Mandatarinnen/Mandatare). Students elect their representatives directly every two years. The representatives elected to the Federal Body of Representatives then elect the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Union.
Student representative bodies at higher education level
In addition to the ÖH union, there are other representation structures at public universities, universities of applied sciences, private universities and university colleges of teacher education. At the larger post-secondary educational institutions, these are normally established as corporations under public law, with at least two levels of representative activity:
- The most important body is the Higher Education Institution Representative Body, which is like a small student parliament at the educational institution itself.
- There are also Course Representative Bodies, which are established to represent the interests of students on a course and thus represent students at grassroots level.
- There is an option for additional representative bodies to be established at faculty or department level.
ÖH elections every two years
Elections to the ÖH union and student representation bodies at Austrian public universities, universities of applied sciences, university colleges of teacher education and private universities take place every 2 years. The last elections were held in May 2019. The results are available here: https://wahl2019.oeh.ac.at/ (mainly in German)
The ÖH is funded primarily through the ÖH subscription (including a special fee for insurance) which currently stands at 20.20 euros. This must be paid by all students. The ÖH also receives funds from the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) in order to pay for its administration, for training student representatives and to provide specialised information for students.
ÖH takes positions on legislative proposals
The ÖH union is entitled to take official positions on draft laws and regulations, and is one of the BMBWF’s most important partners for discussion and negotiation on all issues relating to higher education.
- General information on the Austrian National Union of Students (ÖH) (in German only)
- Federal legislation: Federal Act on the Student Representative Organisations (Students’ Union Act 2014 – HSG 2014) (in German only)
- Regulation: Regulation on voting in the Student Representative Organisations 2014 – HSWO 2014 (in German only)