How to Study in Austria for Free: Complete Guide

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Austria one of the most expensive places in Europe and counted among the richest countries in the world. Even to visit this country can cost you a penny and definitely not for backpackers type of travelers.

It might surprise many of you, but Austria offers free higher education since most of the universities are state-funded.

Austria is one of the few countries in the world who offers free education. In fact, all public Universities won’t cost anything if your country of origin does not extend the EU/EEA area if it does you will need to contribute 1,452 EUR per academic year.

If you are from the EU/EEA country – you have many options to choose from. So how international students can get the best for their money in Austria and all they need to know before coming here. You will find this information below.

Free Universities and Universities of Applied Science

Austria is becoming a popular destination for international students looking for cheap tuition fees, high quality of life, and international experience. The country also warmly welcomes international students and gives them all chances to fulfill academic goals.

First, we will divide international students into two groups:

  1. EU/EEA origin and
  2. Non-EU/EEA origin

EU/EEA citizens

List of free Universities:

All Public Universities

  1. University of Vienna
  2. BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences)
  3. University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
  4. WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
  5. University of Klagenfurt
  6. University of Salzburg
  7. University of Graz
  8. University of Innsbruck
  9. Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU)
  10. Medical University of Vienna
  11. Medical University of Graz
  12. Medical University of Innsbruck
  13. University of Applied Arts Vienna
  14. MDW (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna)
  15. Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
  16. Mozarteum University Salzburg
  17. University of Music and Performing Arts (KUG)
  18. University of Art and Design Linz
  19. Vienna University of Technology
  20. University of Leoben
  21. Graz University of Technology

Non-EU/EEA citizens

Unfortunately, there is no free University for students from Non-EU/EEA countries.

List of Free Universities of Applied Science for both EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA students:

There are some free Universities for Non-EU/EEA as well. This information is relevant for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Even though only 3 Universities are completely free in Austria, the remaining institutions aren’t that expensive.

  • FH Vorarlberg
  • FH Burgenland
  • FH Joanneum

Tuitions Fees for EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA Students

University Fees

Austrian University is the highest level of education, offering a broad range of disciplines. Universities are research and theory-based institutions. Most of them have a long history, compared to the relatively new opened the Universities of Applied Science. These were mainly founded in the 90’s last century.

Some universities have specialized in certain subject areas, for example, technical universities, medical universities, and colleges of education.

EU/EEA citizens

Free

Non-EU/EEA citizens

Students from Group 2 must pay 726,72 EUR per semester or 1,453 EUR in a year at public Universities.

Some examples:

  • The University of Vienna – 726,72 EUR per semester
    • Students from some developing countries are exempt from paying the tuition fee
  • 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 start from 1,000 EUR per year and can lead to around 40,000 EUR per year, with no matter of the student origin. Example:

  • Danube University Krems – between 3,900 EUR – 4,500 EUR semester

Universities of Applied Science (FH) Fees

The University of Applied Science (Fachhochschule on German) focuses on the practical side of higher education, and so offers more concrete specializations which relevant to the labor market. They can be both public and private.

Universitiy of Applied Sciences was first found in Germany and then widely spread all over Europe, especially in Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands.

Universities of Applied Sciences or Fachhochschule offer their students professionally-oriented higher education. This is reflected in their curricula, which include mandatory career-oriented practical training units or job-based internships.

In Austria, more than 650 FH degree programs in areas such as Business, Engineering and IT, Social Sciences, Media and Design, Health Sciences and Cultural Sciences are offered by 20 institutions. About 80 Degree Programs are offered entirely in English. More about Fachhochschule read in my 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 different amounts.

EU/EEA citizens

Students from EU/EEA counties pay a fixed fee of 363,36 EUR per semester in all FH

  • 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

Non-EU/EEA citizens

For Group 2 fees vary since Universities of Applied Science can determinate them. However, most FH require 363,36 EUR or 726,72 EUR per semester. Below you can see tuition fees of all Universities of Applied Science.

  • FH Wien der WKW – University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication 1000 EUR per semester
  • UAS Technikum Vienna 363,36 EUR per semester
  • University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna 363,36 EUR per semester
  • FH Campus Wien – University of Applied Sciences 726,72 EUR per semester
  • Lauder Business School 727,00 EUR per semester
  • IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems between 3,900 EUR – 4,500 EUR
  • St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences – 726,72 EUR per semester
  • University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt – 363,36 EUR per semester
  • University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria – 363,36 EUR per semester
  • University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria – 726.72 EUR per semester
  • Campus 02 University of Applied Sciences – between 4.500 and 5.000 EUR per semester
  • Salzburg University of Applied Sciences –  363 EUR per semester
  • Carinthia University of Applied Sciences – 364 EUR per semester
  • Management Center Innsbruck – 6,250 EUR per semester in a Bachelor’s program and 7,500 EUR per semester in a Master’s program
  • Health University of Applied Sciences Tyrol – 363,36 EUR per semester + contribution to study material 115,00 EUR per academic year
  • Kufstein University of Applied Sciences – between 3,900 and  4,900 EUR per Semester

How to Apply for Free study in Austria

Enroll in University

Students who want free study in Austria must get enrolled in an Austrian University. The application can be made directly online at their websites. Before application make sure your previous education( A-level or high school diploma) equivalent to an Austrian Matura examination (13 years of school).

All documents must be translated into German or English. Have at least 3 months for this procedure, the admission may take more than 2 months. And the application for a visa can easily take the same amount of time.

From my experience it took me 3 month from 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.

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Apply for a Visa

Once you get admission into a recognized university, you can apply for a visa. You can do it at your nearest embassy or consulate office of Austria. However, the fastest way will be directly in Austria, in foreigners registration office of the town where your University is.

Important Information

All detailed information read here.

  1. Austrian embassies will require international applicants to demonstrate financial stability. You have to prove sufficient financial means to finance your stay: students up to 24 years have to prove at least 515,30 EUR per month; students of 24 years of age or older – at least 933,06 EUR per month.

These amounts have to be proved for a maximum of 12 months – as a savings account or a bank account, or Declaration of Guarantee from a person living in Austria or a confirmation of the award of a scholarship/grant.

If the costs for accommodation exceed 294,65 EUR/month (and they most probably will), you will have to prove additional funds.

  1. 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. Meaning – you will have to do it in your home country and it can take up to 2 months! (yes I have been there too). Attention Indians and Pakistani, your documents must be legalization in the Austrian embassy in your home country. Consult your university before making a visa application.

First apply at University or University of Applied Sciences, not one – many, there is no guarantee you will be accepted.

Second, take part in entrance examinations and interviews. Many universities of Applied Sciences organize them in terms of the admission process.

You will need to travel to Austria in this case. I will suggest make appointments with many Universities, and schedule all tests and interviews in 1-2 weeks. Normally they take place many times during and after the application period.

Usually, there is no entrance examination at public Universities (except in medicine and other high demanded majors). Note, that you might need to complete some exams if your previous education not equal to the Austrian one. University will inform you.

Third, prepare all documents, apply for a visa in your home country or in Austria. Finally, collect your visa and start your educational journey.

Living Costs 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:

Accommodation 400 – 450 EUR

The costs will depend mostly on the city in which you want to study. 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.

Food approx. 250 EUR

Food, especially good healthy food is expensive in Austria. Fortunately, the county has some discount supermarkets, like Hofer and LIDL, which offer food at reasonable prices. All universities have a student cafe (Mensa) where you can get a good meal at a good 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.

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 cost approximately 12 EUR, and a ticket for a museum about 8 EUR, 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.

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.

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 is difficult to say exactly how much money a student in Austria needs per month.

I found medicaments be expensive in Austria, as well as train fare and of course food and drinks. My monthly spendings are around 1.100 EUR for a modest lifestyle without any transportation and travel costs.

Scholarships and Funding for International Students

International students in Austria can benefit from various scholarships and other funding opportunities offered by Austrian organizations and Universities. You can see them all on this website. The value of the grants offered is between 475 and 679 EUR per month. What won’t cover all your costs, but at least some.

Check here 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

Austria has the following requirements for future students:

  • The applicant must have an A-level or high school diploma, that 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:
  • Necessary funds to support yourself
  • Accommodation
  • Health insurance
  • Receipt for paying the residence permit fee (160 EUR)

Language Requirements

  • For programs in German, you will need B2 or C1 level of language. Accepted certificates from Österreuchisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch (ÖSD), Goethe Institute, Telc Deutsch
  • English language proficiency: IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge certificates

Deadline

In Austria, there are two typical application deadlines according to where you come from. Make sure 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: at the latest by 5 September or 5 February.

Required Documents

  • Passport, identity card or proof of citizenship in combination with an official identification with 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

Souce https://www.migration.gv.at/en/living-and-working-in-austria/studying-in-austria/. Save the webiste, important resource while moving to Austria.

Related Questions

Can I work during the studies

Yes, both EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA students allowed to work, however, the limit is up to 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 working 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 having completed your degree in Austria, you can switch from the student residence permit to the Red-White-Red Card. Read here more about this awesome 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 more detailed answer on how to stay in Austria after graduation. in my blog.

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