According to many global rankings, Austria has some of the best quality of life in the world. Yet, it doesn’t have expensive education as many highly developed countries do. In fact, international students can access Europe’s best universities at no cost. Yes, you heard it right; Austria offers free education since most of its universities are state-funded.
Austria is one of the few countries in the world that offer free education. In fact, all public universities are tuition-free for EU/EEA students. At the same time, nationals of non-EU countries pay a small fee between 363 EUR and 726 EUR per semester.
Whether you are from an EU or non-EU country, you can study for free at an Austrian university and enjoy the highest quality of life. You only need to know where to look for the right college. We explain how to study in Austria for free, including how to find a free university in this article. You can also read more about studying in Austria in this article.
Can you study for free in Austria?
Austria has become a popular destination for international students looking for low tuition fees, high quality of life, and a European experience. The country also warmly welcomes international students and gives them all chances to fulfill academic and personal goals.
Education is indeed free in Austria; however, it also depends on where you are coming from. Hence, there are different rules for EU and non-EU students.
Citizens of EU/EEA countries are exempt from tuition fees in many Austrian universities, while nationals of non-EU/EEA countries will have to pay semester fees. Yet, they aren’t high, 726 EUR per semester on average.
There are also exceptions for students from developing countries, including Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Yemen, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Kiribati, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic), Laos (Democratic People’s Republic), Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, the Maldives, Mali, Mauretania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, Zambia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania (United Republic), Timor-Leste, Togo, Chad, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Central African Republic.
If you are coming from one of those countries, Austrian universities are free for you too.
Free Universities in Austria
Generally, all public universities are free for eligible student groups, there include:
- University of Vienna
- BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences)
- University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
- WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
- University of Klagenfurt
- University of Salzburg
- University of Graz
- University of Innsbruck
- Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU)
- Medical University of Vienna
- Medical University of Graz
- Medical University of Innsbruck
- University of Applied Arts Vienna
- MDW (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna)
- Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
- Mozarteum University Salzburg
- University of Music and Performing Arts (KUG)
- University of Art and Design Linz
- Vienna University of Technology
- University of Leoben
- Graz University of Technology
Free Universities of Applied Science
However, don’t be discouraged; some Austrian universities are tuition-free for non-EU/EEA citizens. These are Universities of Applied Science, which have a slightly different structure than regular universities. Tuition-free programs from the following universities include undergraduate and postgraduate:
- FH Vorarlberg
- FH Burgenland
- FH Joanneum
Tuitions fees in Austrian universities
Fees of public universities
Austrian public and private universities are the highest levels of education, offering a broad range of disciplines. They are research and theory-based institutions.
Most of them have a long history compared to the relatively new concept of the Universities of Applied Science. The latter were mainly built in the 90s last century.
Some Austrian universities have specialized in certain subject areas, for example, technical universities, medical universities, and colleges of education.
Fees for EU/EEA citizens
Fees for Non-EU/EEA citizens
Students from other counties than listed above pay 726,72 EUR per semester or 1,453 EUR per year at all public universities.
Some examples are:
- The University of Vienna – 726,72 EUR per semester
- Vienna University of Technology – 726,72 EUR per semester
- University of Innsbruck – 726,72 EUR per semester
- Technische Universität Graz – 726,72 EUR per semester
Tuition fees at private universities
Private universities have their own tuition fees, which are usually much higher than publicly-founded organizations. Fees at private institutions start from 1,000 EUR per year and can go as high as 40,000 EUR per year. The amount doesn’t depend on the student’s nationality. Example:
- Danube University Krems – between 3,900 EUR – 4,500 EUR semester
Fees of Universities of Applied Science (FH)
Universities of Applied Science are known as Fachhochschule (short FH) in Austria. They focus on the practical side of higher education and offer programs for more specialized professions relevant to the labor market. Universities of Applied Science can be both public and private.
The University of Applied Science was first founded in Germany, and now they are widely common in all of Europe, particularly in Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
Universities of Applied Sciences or Fachhochschule offer students professionally-oriented higher education. It’s reflected in the curricula, which include mandatory career-oriented practical training units or job-based internships.
In Austria, there are over 650 various programs in the areas of Business, Engineering, IT, Social Sciences, Media and Design, Health Sciences, and Cultural Sciences offered by 20 institutions. About 80 programs are offered entirely in English. Read more about Austrian and German Fachhochschule in this post.
All Universities of Applied Sciences (FH) (see exception above) have tuition fees for students from EU/EEA countries as well as Non-EU/EEA. However, the amounts are different.
Fees for EU/EEA citizens
Students from EU/EEA countries pay a fixed fee of 363,36 EUR per semester in all Austrian FH (Universities of Applied Science), including:
- FH Wien der WKW – University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication
- UAS Technikum Vienna
- University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna
- FH Campus Wien – University of Applied Sciences
- Lauder Business School
- IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems
- St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences
- University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt
- Theresan Military Academy
- University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria
- University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria
- Campus 02 University of Applied Sciences
- Salzburg University of Applied Sciences
- Carinthia University of Applied Sciences
- Management Center Innsbruck
- Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol
- Kufstein University of Applied Sciences
Fees for non-EU/EEA citizens
For this group, fees vary since each university can set them independently. Yet, most FHs require 363,36 EUR or 726,72 EUR per semester from a non-EU national. Below you can see the tuition fees of all Austrian Universities of Applied Science.
|Universities of Applied Science||Tuition fees for non-EU per semester|
|FH Wien der WKW – University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication||1,000 EUR|
|UAS Technikum Vienna||363,36 EUR|
|University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna||363,36 EUR|
|FH Campus Wien – University of Applied Sciences||727,00 EUR|
|Lauder Business School||727,00 EUR|
|IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems||3,900 EUR – 4,500 EUR|
|St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences||3,900 EUR – 4,500 EUR|
|University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt||363,36 EUR|
|University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria||363,36 EUR|
|University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria||726.72 EUR|
|Campus 02 University of Applied Sciences||4,500 and 5,000 EUR|
|Salzburg University of Applied Sciences||363 EUR per semester|
|Carinthia University of Applied Sciences||364 EUR per semester|
|Management Center Innsbruck||6,250 EUR in a Bachelor’s program and 7,500 EUR in a Master’s program|
|Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol||363,36 EUR + contribution to study material 115,00 EUR per academic year|
|Kufstein University of Applied Sciences||3,900 and 4,900 EUR|
How to apply for a free university in Austria?
1. Get admission
Students who want to study for free in Austria must enroll in an Austrian university. The application can be made directly online at their websites. Before applying, ensure your previous education (A-level or high school diploma) is equivalent to an Austrian Matura examination (13 years of school).
All documents must be translated into German or English. Give at least three months for this procedure; admission in Austria may take more than 2 months. Moreover, the visa application process can easily take the same amount of time when not more.
From my own experience, it took me three months from the point of starting collecting all documents, accreditation, translation, etc., till I finally applied for a visa. Don’t forget to add another 2-3 weeks till you receive the residence permit card.
2. Apply for an Austrian student visa
Once you get admission into a recognized university, you can apply for a visa. You can do it at the nearest embassy or consulate office of Austria in your home country. However, the fastest way will be directly in Austria. The application can be made in the foreign registration office of the town where your university is located.
Read all the detailed information here.
1. Austrian embassies will require international applicants to demonstrate financial proof. You have to present sufficient financial means to finance your stay in Austria: students up to 24 years have to prove at least 552 EUR per month (2022); students of 24 years of age or older – at least 1,000.48 EUR per month (2022).
These amounts must be proved for 12 months – as a savings account or a bank account, our Declaration of Guarantee from a person living in Austria, or a confirmation of a scholarship/grant award.
If the costs for accommodation exceed 294,65 EUR/month (and it most probably will), you will have to provide additional funds.
2. Your educational documents (secondary school certificate or diploma) need to have an apostille, be translated, and notarized. The apostille will be made in an organization that originated it. This means you will have to do it in your home country, which can take up to 2 months! (yes, I have been there too).
Attention Indians and Pakistanis – your documents must be legalized in the Austrian embassy in your home country. Consult your university before making a visa application.
The steps you need to take:
1. First, apply to a university and not one but many; there is no guarantee you will be accepted.
2. Second, take part in entrance examinations and interviews. Many Austrian universities will organize special tests in terms of the admission process.
You will need to travel to Austria in this case. I will suggest making appointments with many universities at once and scheduling all tests and interviews in 1-2 weeks. Usually, they occur a few times during and after the application period.
Usually, there is no entrance examination at public universities (except in medicine and other highly demanded majors). Note that you might need to complete some exams if your previous education isn’t equal to the Austrian one. The university will inform you.
3. Third, prepare all documents and apply for a visa in your home country or Austria. Finally, collect your visa and start your journey.
Cost of living for students in Austria
Austria isn’t a cheap country, but also not the most expensive one in Europe. You can live a modest life on around 950 EUR per month.
Your main expenses will be:
1. Accommodation 400 – 500 EUR
The costs will depend mainly on the city you want to study in. Western Austria is more expensive than Eastern. Vienna and Graz can be pricey too. For this money, you can only afford one room in a shared apartment.
If you want more privacy and an entire small apartment, the price will start from 500, maybe 450 EUR if you are lucky.
2. Food approx. 250 EUR
Food, especially good healthy one, is expensive in Austria. Fortunately, the county has some discount supermarkets, like Hofer and LIDL, offering reasonably priced food. All universities have a student cafe (Mensa) where you can get a good meal at a cheap price (5-6 EUR).
The cheapest way will be to cook yourself by using products from a discounter. Some average prices in Austria: a cup of coffee/tea in a cafe: 3 EUR, a sandwich at a bakery: 3,50 EUR, a meal in a restaurant: 13 EUR.
3. Studies and personal expenses approx. 300 EUR
A metro or bus ticket costs around 2,20 EUR or 1,5 EUR in small towns, a cinema ticket costs approximately 12 EUR, a ticket for a museum about 8 EUR, and a gym membership costs around 40 EUR per month.
However, students are eligible for several price concessions. Public transportation authorities and many museums, cinemas, theatres, and others give student discounts; you just need to show a student card.
4. Health insurance 60 EUR
Health insurance is mandatory in Austria and must be provided upon your arrival. It will cost you 60 EUR each month. I had this coverage from Care Concept during my studies in Austria, which was about 60 EUR per month.
The average monthly living expenses for a student in Austria are approximately 950 EUR. Of course, it depends on your lifestyle and location as well. For this reason, it’s difficult to say exactly how much money a student in Austria needs per month.
Scholarships and funding for international students
International students in Austria can benefit from various scholarships and other funding opportunities Austrian organizations and universities offer. You can see them all on this website.
The amount of the grants offered is between 475 EUR and 679 EUR per month. This won’t cover all your expenses, but at least some.
Check here for scholarships offered by the OeAD (The Austrian Agency for International Mobility and Cooperation in Education). Also, some universities provide grants or scholarships for international students; you can ask about it during the application process.
Requirements for application at Austrian university
Austrian universities have the following requirements for future students:
- The applicant must have an A-level or high school diploma, that is equivalent to an Austrian Matura (high school) examination certification
- Your school documents must be certified
- You must pass the entrance examination if it’s required
- You need to prove your enrolment as well as:
- Proof of necessary funds to support yourself
- Proof of accommodation
- Evidence of a health insurance
- Receipt for paying the residence permit fee (160 EUR)
- For programs in German, you will need a B2 or C1 level of language. Accepted certificates are from Österreuchisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD), Goethe Institute, Telc Deutsch
- English language proficiency: IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge certificates
In Austria, there are two specific application deadlines according to where you come from. Ensure all your documents arrive before these dates, as no extensions are accepted.
- If you are an Austrian resident or an EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen: 15 October or 15 March every year for the following semester.
- If you are from Non-EU/EEA country, the application deadlines are: by 5 September or 5 February at the latest.
- Passport, identity card, or proof of citizenship in combination with an official identification with a photo
- A-levels, high school diploma, or equivalent certification
- Transcript with grades from the last school year
- Various filled-out forms:
Application form for admission, registration form, student document of identification with a photo attached, form for continuation
- Second photograph
- Bank receipt of payment for the first-semester tuition fee if there are some
Source: https://www.migration.gv.at/en/living-and-working-in-austria/studying-in-austria/. Save the website; it’s an essential resource while moving to Austria.
Can you work during your studies in Austria?
Both EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA students are allowed to work. However, the limit is 20 hours per week for third-country students (non-EU). You can earn up to 11,000 EUR per year or 916 EUR per month without paying any tax.
In fact, around 70% of all students in Austria work while pursuing a degree. 15% of them work up to 20 hours a week, and 11% even up to 35 hours per week.
Can I stay in Austria after graduation?
Graduates from EU/EEA countries can freely continue their stay in Austria.
Non-EU/EEA graduates have the opportunity to work or open a business in Austria. After completing your degree in Austria, you can switch from the student residence permit to the Red-White-Red Card. Read here more about this excellent opportunity.
After graduation, you can apply for a renewal of your student visa for 12 months and start your job search or business in Austria. Read the more detailed answer on how to stay in Austria after graduation in this article.