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Adult education in Austria

Adult education in Austria covers a large number of educational institutions with different objectives and educational programmes. The educational spectrum includes general educational provision, such as basic education and the acquisition of qualifications in 'second-chance education', vocational education and training programmes, higher education and university-based programmes. Of vital importance for participation in and the success of further education are the development and implementation of adult and target-group-specific programmes, as well as high-quality educational advice and career guidance.

Organisational structure of adult education in Austria

At federal level, general adult education and training comes under the remit of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), although other ministries have responsibility for specific areas. At association level, adult education and training is organised by the Austrian Conference of Adult Education Institutions (KEBÖ), which comprises the ten largest continuing education and training associations. University-based and tertiary research institutions are also important players in this area. Finally, numerous NGOs, associations and enterprises are involved in non-profit and commercial adult education and training.

The St. Wolfgang Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB) is part of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and acts as a competence centre for the professionalisation of adult further education and training, quality development and specialist discussion.

Adult education programmes and funding

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research supports non-profit organisations involved in adult education and training. The preconditions and criteria for awarding subsidies are laid down in the Federal Financing Act on the Funding of Adult Education and Public Libraries from Federal Funds. 

The Adult Education Initiative (IEB) is a programme that provides courses in basic education and enables adults who have not acquired school-leaving qualifications to do so. The aim of the Adult Education Initiative is to open up better access opportunities to the labour market and to support social integration. Young people and adults living in Austria, regardless of origin and previous education, have the opportunity to acquire basic skills free of charge, even after the end of their school-based education. The legal basis for this is an agreement pursuant to Article 15a of the Federal Constitutional Law (B-VG) between the federal government and the federal states (Länder).

The European Social Fund (ESF) is a structural fund of the European Union. In respect of the adult education and training sector, it provides funds for projects aimed at the sustainable integration of disadvantaged adults into society, education and the labour market, the breaking down of barriers and the creation of equal opportunities, as well as professionalisation and quality development. ESF project funding is co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and has the following areas of focus: basic education, acquiring school-leaving qualifications, educational advice and professionalisation.

A comprehensive overview of adult education and training in Austria as well as educational programmes can be found at the website (English overview)