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Education and Training Opportunities in Austria

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Compulsory education in Austria lasts for 9 years and applies to all children from the age of 6.
School is compulsory for all children who reside permanently in Austria, irrespective of their citizenship.

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The Primary School (or Elementary School) is the entry level for the Austrian school system and provides basic education for children from the age of six.

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The Grammar School, at the junior year levels, (or Junior High School) provides students aged from 10 to 14 years with an all-round, in-depth education. The students are in particular prepared for general or vocational further educational schools.

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The New Middle School (NMS) is a hybrid between Secondary School and junior level Grammar School, and gives students between 10 and 14 years of age a basic general education that prepares them for vocational training in an apprenticeship scheme or at a vocational middle school or college (BMS or BHS) or for a general level of higher education.

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Children and young people with a physical, mental or learning disability can elect to attend a Special Needs School instead of a normal primary or secondary school.

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Polytechnic School (PTS) follows on at 8th grade and in particular prepares for vocational training in a skilled trade. In the 9th grade, the PTS provides focus on a specific career orientation.

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An apprenticeship is a dual system of vocational training, primarily involving practical experience in a place of work combined, to a lesser extent, with training in a vocational school. During the apprenticeship, the apprentice learns their chosen profession based on actual practical work. At the vocational school, a theoretical background for the chosen profession is provided as well as a deepening of general knowledge.

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Master Craftsman Schools expand the theoretical technical education for persons who have already completed vocational training in a technical-industrial field. They last four semesters and finish with an examination board approved qualification.

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Next to a further general education,the Technical or Vocational Middle School (BMS) provides training for specific vocational qualifications in a trade or profession.

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The Technical High School (BHS) provides an extended education and leads to a higher school certificate or leaving qualification (“Matura”, equivalent to UK A-levels or US High School Graduation). At the same time the students acquire and complete a course of vocational training in a relevant field (diploma).

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The senior level of the Grammar School (or Senior High School) provides a comprehensive and in-depth general education as a lead up to university entrance. Graduation from the Grammar School is not usually immediately associated with a professional qualification.

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The “Matura” (higher school certificate) is the conclusion of a Grammar or High School education (AHS) and part of the final examination at Technical High School (matriculation and diploma examination). Among other things it allows unrestricted access to study at a university, a university of technology, a teacher training college or other higher education establishment.

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The university entrance qualification imparts the right to study at a university, including a university of technology, at a teacher training college, or attend a course of study at a college or other higher educational establishment. The university entrance qualification is gained through “Matura” (higher school certificate), avocational qualification or diploma,or a university entrance examination.

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Many Technical High Schools also run Colleges. These convey in a shorter time (4 to 6 semesters) the technical contents of a Technical High School (BHS) in different specialist disciplines and in particular enable Grammar School graduates to acquire professional qualifications. College studies are often offered as part-time, evening courses.

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A University primarily provides a theoretical or scientific training and is not always aligned to a specific profession. It is very important therefore to be accurately informed about course content and career options before the start of a degree course.

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Universities of Technology provide a scientifically based education in the form of bachelor's or master's degrees with a strong practical focus. Vocational degree courses are offered mainly in the fields of business, engineering, health and social affairs.

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Teachers are trained at Universities of Teacher Education for lessons at primary school level (elementary schools) and secondary school level (new secondary schools, higher secondary academic schools, special schools, polytechnic schools and specialist lessons at vocational schools).

In any case, the Master's programme for teaching at secondary school level must be offered in cooperation with a university.

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