Study information for refugees
This section provides information about the study options of people who are asylum seekers with a residence entitlement card or have been granted temporary leave to remain.
- Advanced language skills are an absolute requirement for the access to higher education.
- Recognised refugees and people who have been granted subsidiary protection have access to public funding for language courses throughout Austria.
- Refugees have access to selected academic courses. Programs like MORE offer the possibility to improve language skills and get a taste of Austrian higher education.
- Students are generally not entitled to receive the "Bedarfsorientierte Mindestsicherung BMS".
You will find information about these topics:
Language lessons and certificates
People who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection status have access to subsidised language courses.
People who have been granted temporary leave to remain currently do not have access to subsidised language courses.
About language courses: General information about language levels can be found on the website of the Austrian German Language Diploma ÖSD, a state-approved examination and assessment of German as a Foreign Language / German as a Second Language.
- The ÖSD and international standards
- Examination centres and examination dates
- Sample exams and practice materials
Please note that language courses are offered by various providers, many of them for profit.
The Austrian Integration Fund ÖIF supports recognised refugees and people who have been granted subsidiary protection through funding for literacy, elementary (A1, A2) and advanced courses (B1, B2). Information about the ÖIF can be found here.
ALFATELEFON Österreich: This course database also lists language courses for refugees.
Language course funding by the Public Employment Service Austria AMS: The AMS supports people who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection. If you are still an asylum seeker or have been granted temporary leave to remain, you cannot apply for funding. For more information please contact your local AMS.
Language certificates for students: Austrian higher education institutions usually teach in German (some programmes are available in English. An overview can be found at www.studienwahl.at). Admission to a degree programme usually requires a language level of B2, for some programmes even C2. Please contact the respective institution for information about conditions and accepted language certificates.
OLS for Refugees: The Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support (OLS) currently offers online language courses to higher education students, vocational education and training learners and young volunteers taking part in the Erasmus+ programme. In 2016, the European Commission has decided to extend this service to the benefit of around 100.000 refugees over 3 years, on a voluntary basis and free of charge for them. Refugees receive access to courses through higher education institutions participating in Erasmus+. More information about OLS for Refugees can be found at erasmusplusols.eu/ols4refugees.
University Preparation Programmes: If you do not have the necessary language certificates by the time you apply for admission to a study programme, the institution might enrol you as a non-degree student. This means that you will be able to attend a University Preparation Programme and continue studying as a regular student after completing it.
University Preparation Programmes are offered in the cities of Vienna, Graz and Leoben.
- Vienna: University Preparation Programme of the Vienna Universities
- Graz: University Preparation Programme Graz
- Leoben: University Preparation Programme of the University of Leoben
Funding for the University Preparation Programme of the Vienna Universities: The University of Vienna offers scholarships to asylum seekers and recognised refugees who have been admitted to the University of Vienna; you will find more information about the funding scheme here.
Preparation Programmes by universities of applied sciences: Several universities of applied sciences offer preparation programmes as well.
Preparation Programmes by Universities of Applied Sciences: Several Universities of Applied Sciences offer preparation programmes as well.
- Vienna: Technikum Wien Academy. The "Pre College Program" (briefly PCP) and the "Pre College Program Extended" (briefly PCP ex) offer the possibility for international students to acquire necessary entrance requirements and competences to apply for bachelor’s studies at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien or other Austrian universities according to their admission requirements.
- Linz: The FH Upper Austria offers a German Preparation Programme for applicants who do not have the necessary German language skills yet to apply for one of the German-taught degree programmes at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
- Wels: The FH Upper Austria offers an English-taught International Foundation Programme for applicants who do not yet meet the entrance requirements for studying at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
- Pinkafeld: The University of Applied Sciences FH Burgenland offers preparatory courses and a "Bridging Program" for international students (partly in German).
Other possible funding sources for language classes
- Vienna/Lower Austria:
- Tyrol: Language courses in Tyrol (in German)
- Vorarlberg: Language courses for asylum seekers
You plan to attend individual courses
As a refugee you have the opportunity to enrol as a non-degree student and get a taste of Austrian higher education by joining selected courses. You can also use the access to courses to practise your language skills.
MORE – An initiative by UNIVERSITIES AUSTRIA uniko
MORE-Courses offer refugees access to selected courses at the 21 state universities in Austria. Participants are admitted as non-degree students and might be able to pursue a degree later on.
MORE-Perspectives enables refugee academics and scientists to connect with members of Austrian universities.
MORE is open to asylum seekers, recognised refugees, people who have been granted subsidiary protection and people who have been granted temporary leave to remain ("Duldung"). Among the benefits:
- Admission as a non-degree student
- Tuition fee waiver
- Access to the university library
- Support in the day to day life by student buddies
- Where possible support for travel expenses and expenses for teaching materials can be provided
More information about the initiative can be found here.
Open Class for Refugees is an initiative started by Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (CUAS) to provide asylum seekers and recognized refugees with access to education and help them improve their future prospects. Open Class for Refugees also provides support and advice to candidates to help them select a particular field of studies for candidates.
- Education as a meaningful and committed part of daily life.
- Attend courses that you can have accredited as part of a standard degree program.
- You will receive confirmation of completion of the course.
- Use the possibility to get to know other students, improve your language skills and learn more about everyday life in Austria.
More information abou Open Class for Refugees can be found here.
The University of Applied Sciences FH Vorarlberg offers admission to selected courses. More information can be found here.
Validation of an academic degree (Nostrifizierung)
Validation is the conversion of a foreign university degree into a corresponding (bachelor's, master's, diploma or doctor's) Austrian one by the organ in charge of study affairs at a university or university of applied sciences, respectively (source).
Academic degrees are validated for work purposes only. Only certain professional fields are affected; an overview can be found here.
People who have been granted temporary leave to remain do not have a work permit for Austria and cannot validate an academic degree.
Asylum seekers are currently not allowed to work in the professions that are affected and cannot validate an academic degree.
The Act Governing Employment of Foreign Nationals (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz, AuslBG) provides for exemptions for employment in scientific / research areas. Please contact the Public Employment Service Austria AMS for more information about this so-called "Ausnahmebestätigung". A list of Regional branch offices can be found here (in German).
You do not need to have your degree validated if you would like to pursue further studies. Your qualification will be assessed during the admission process.
For more information about the validation of a degree please click here.
You would like to begin or continue to study at a higher education institution
In order to be admitted to a study programme you will have to fulfil certain requirements. For example, Austrian higher education institutions usually teach in German (some programmes are available in English. You will find more information about study programmes at www.studienwahl.at). Please contact the respective university for information about deadlines, conditions and accepted language certificates.
Please be aware that you need to obtain detailed information about admission requirements directly from the respective university. If you meet all requirements and have all diplomas and certificates at the time of application, you can enrol as a student.
Possible conditions are:
- Hochschulreife: The institution will compare your qualifications to Austrian standards before admitting you to a study programme. You have to present proof that you have completed your secondary level education; if necessary, you will have to complete additional classes (among others, language skills: Admission to a study programme usually requires a language level of B2, for some programmes even C2).
- Some study programmes require entrance exams.
- Admission to a master's degree requires a bachelor's degree or diploma degree from the same academic field.
- Admission to a doctorate or PhD requires a master’s or diploma degree from the same academic field.
- If you are planning to continue a study programme that you started abroad and had to abandon, you might be able to get credit for successful exams. The institution will check your qualifications.
- Asylum seekers and people who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection do not need an admission statement from a university in their home country (German term: besondere Universitätsreife).
If you do not have the necessary certificates by the time you apply for admission to a study programme, the institution might enrol you as a non-degree student. This means that you will be able to attend a University Preparation Programme and continue studying as a regular student after completing it.