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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level


2.Organisation and governance

2.7Administration and governance at local and/or institutional level

Last update: 3 February 2024


Early childhood education and care

Some 60% of all institutions are public day-care facilities, and most of the remaining 40% are run by private associations and church organisations. The providers are obliged to make teaching and other staff available and are responsible for providing and maintaining property and buildings. The municipalities bear the main part of public funding, the provinces subsidise the largest part of the private childcare facilities.

Public funding of early childhood education depends on the number of children, group sizes and child-supervisor. The federal government and the provinces provide funds to the municipalities for the creation of new care groups in the form of subsidies for investment and staff expenses. Subsidies for staff expenses are also granted to reduce child-teacher ratios in the groups. (See also chapter 3.1.


School administration at local level is fulfilled by municipalities as they are responsible for the maintenance (construction, running, closing) of general compulsory schools. These tasks are assigned to the municipalities by provincial legislation and implemented by the municipalities under the supervision of the provinces, which will grant financial support (e.g. province school construction funds).

School administration at institutional level is fulfilled by the school heads and the school partners. School heads preside over a school and are responsible for pedagogical positioning of the school, organisational development, staff recruiting and management, quality management, management of resources and school partners (school forum, school community committee). On the basis of the 2017 Education Reform Act, schools have not only been given more autonomy in the organisation of teaching, for example, but also in the recruitment of staff. Between two and a maximum of eight school locations can join forces in school clusters since the school year 2018/2019. This aims to support innovative pedagogy and also the effective use of resources. Clusters can be formed both for compulsory schools and also for federal schools, or also as a combination of these.

The school clusters are run by cluster management teams, at the individual school locations there are department heads. Cluster managers have the same tasks as school heads.

The tasks of cluster managers/school heads include:

  • Determination of the school profile and the pedagogical concept
  • Elaboration of a school development plan
  • Communication and coordination internally and also with school authorities, providers and supervision
  • Organisational development
  • Human resource management: recruitment, operational planning, development and controlling
  • Infrastructure and budget management
  • Quality assurance. 



The 2002 Universities Act gave universities a new legal basis which combines organisational and study law. The Act has transformed universities from federal institutions into legal entities under public law, removing them from the scope of federal administration (decentralisation effort) and introduced full legal capacity (autonomy). Recruited university staff members are no longer endowed with civil service status. Employment contracts are concluded under the Private Employees' Act. Legal regulation is complemented by a monitoring system. The Federal Ministry limits itself mainly to legal supervision, to negotiating the performance agreements and three-year global budgets, to adopting performance reports and financial statements as well as to controlling and monitoring.

The 2002 Universities Act, including ensuing amendments, concentrates decision-making powers within the university at the level of university management. The university management consists of the Rectorate, the Senate (Senat) and the University Council (Universitätsrat). Decentralised collegiate bodies, with or without decision-making powers, may be set up by the Senate. Decisions emanating from these bodies are subject to authorisation. Curriculum and appointment committees must be set up on a mandatory basis.

The University Council has a strategic and a supervisory function and is responsible for advertising the post of, as well as electing and recalling the Rector and the Vice-Rectors. The strategic tasks concern mainly

  • developmental planning,
  • the internal organisational set-up (organisation plan),
  • (authorising) performance agreements with the Federal Government,
  • (mandating) external evaluations,
  • (commenting on) the drafting of the curricula
  • and (consultation in) the decision-making on study programmes.

The oversight function, including legal and commercial supervision, covers the intellectual capital report and financial statements.

The Rectorate is elected by the University Council on the basis of a three-candidate proposal submitted by a selection committee, whose members include the Chairpersons of the University Council and the Senate.

The other main tasks of the Senate are to:

  • Set up collegiate bodies with and without decision-making powers and authorise their decisions;
  • Elect one half of the members of the University Council;
  • Adopt the curricula proposed by the curriculum committees;
  • Authorise the charter and participate in issues concerning the Rectorate and the University Council.

The main functions of the Rectorate are:

  • To prepare decisions for the University Council and the Senate
  • To appoint intra-university staff
  • To allocate budget and staff
  • To set intra-university objectives
  • Reporting
  • Evaluation

The Rector chairs the Rectorate; s/he represents the university vis-à-vis the Federal Ministry when carrying out performance agreements, appoints university professors upon the proposal of an appointment committee, oversees service contracts with university staff and is the highest-level authority.

There is no provincial competence in this area.

Universities of applied sciences

Each provider of universities of applied sciences degree programmes has to establish an universities of applied sciences board for the purpose of implementing and organising all teaching and examinations. This board is made up of

  • six heads of the study courses set up at these institutions,
  • six representatives of the teaching and research staff,
  • as well as four student representatives.

The universities of applied sciences boards

  • elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from a three-candidate shortlist submitted by the providing entity,
  • establish, modify or terminate degree programmes in consultation with the provider,
  • make applications concerning the budget addressed to the provider,
  • submit proposals for the recruitment of teaching staff,
  • co-ordinate the contents of teaching and examinations,
  • evaluate teaching and examination rules as well as study plans,
  • award academic degrees and validate foreign degrees,
  • adopt rules of procedure and a statute in consultation with the provider
  • and decide on complaints lodges against decisions taken by the programme director.

There is no provincial competence in this area.

University colleges of teacher education

University colleges of teacher education are either public establishments maintained by the Federal Government or private institutions. For details: on administration and governance (cf. chapter 2.6.), on organisation (cf. chapter 10.5.) and overview (cf. chapter 9.1.). 

Adult education

The diversity in adult education in Austria also requires exactly the same diversity in terms of forms of organisation and cooperation. The associations of the Austrian Conference of Adult Education Institutions, for example, have their nationwide representations and educational institutions at provincial level and at local level, run education centres, adult education centres and public libraries, to give some examples. Via the performance agreements concluded with the Federation, structures and infrastructures are, to some extent, financed from public funds and therefore their existence is secured, but there are many other forms of organisation and cooperation at provincial level up to municipal level. For example, municipalities may maintain or subsidise institutions or provide and maintain property and buildings for the use of adult education institutions.

Depending on the size of the respective institution there are different personnel and organisational structures. The job profile of the adult educator ranges from teaching and counselling onto librarianship, information management and education management (see Austrian Academy of Continuing Education). In smaller, non-profit associations these functions are naturally carried out by few people, while larger institutions are, depending on the task and responsibility, more differentiated.