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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Distribution of responsibilities


8.Adult education and training

8.1Distribution of responsibilities

Last update: 4 February 2024


The heterogeneity of the adult education and training landscape is also reflected in its governance structure. The distribution of responsibilities and tasks depends on

  • the institution where relevant programmes are held (in schools, higher education establishments, companies, CET institutions, cf. chapter 8.3)
  • the qualification acquired (governmentally regulated or not governmentally regulated qualifications, cf. chapter 8.4).

In principle it can be said that governmentally regulated qualifications – irrespective of where they are taught (such as in schools, adult learning establishments) – are within the sphere of responsibility of a federal ministry.

For not governmentally regulated qualifications, the education and training providers themselves are responsible. 


Federal Level

At the federal level, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) needs to be mentioned as a relevant institution. It is responsible for adult learning programmes offered in schools. This comprises the curricula, the assessment procedures (i.e. the final examination), the teachers and the infrastructure.

Based on the 1973 Federal Financing Act on the Funding of Adult Education and Public Libraries from Federal Funds,  the Department for Adult Education is responsible for the financial and structural support for adult learning in Austria. Moreover, it coordinates and implements ESF programmes in the field of adult learning.

The Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB) a BMBWF unit, sees itself as a competence centre for adult learning. At BIFEB there is a wide range of in-service training and further education programme for teachers, trainers, educational and career advisors, educational managers and librarians.

BIFEB is one of the partners in the cooperative system of adult learning (cf. below) and is co-responsible for the Austrian Academy of Continuing Education (cf. chapter 8.4: Possibilities where certification bodies are involved).

Besides BMBWF, other federal ministries also need to be mentioned as bearing responsibility for adult learning in Austria. They include:


Provincial Level

As – according to the Federal Constitutional Act – adult education and training is not within the sphere of competence of the Austrian federal government, the provincial governments have various options in this policy field. For example, funds for adult education and training institutions or individual support for course participants can be made available. Eligibility for benefits, educational objectives and the funding amounts are regulated differently in the various provinces. 

The Level of Associations, Organisations and Other Groups

At the level of professional associations, first and foremost the Austrian Conference of Adult Education Institutions (KEBÖ) needs to be mentioned. Founded in 1972 it comprises the ten largest national CET associations. KEBÖ acts as a partner of BMBWF in the implementation of educational policy priorities and as an interest group for adult education and training. BMBWF concludes performance agreements on certain adult learning aspects (e.g. measures for equal opportunities, strengthening digitisation and media skills) with the individual KEBÖ associations.

Together with the Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB), KEBÖ forms the cooperative system of adult learning, which is responsible for the Austrian Academy of Continuing Education (cf chapter 8.4: Possibilities where certification bodies are involved).

A large number of NGOs and non-profit associations that are not part of KEBÖ are also partners of BMBWF in the implementation of educational policy priorities and, in their capacity as adult education and training institutions, are important providers of adult learning in Austria. 

Local Level

At the local level, adult education and training institutions themselves are responsible for key tasks in the sector. This applies in particular to adult learning programmes that lead to not governmentally regulated qualifications (cf. chapter 8.4: Other Types of Publicly Subsidised Provision for Adult Learners). For these, the respective provider defines contents and validation procedures, selects teachers and develops teaching materials. Adult education and training establishments which offer training programmes and other courses leading to governmentally regulated qualifications must comply with the specifications (such as the framework curriculum, examination procedures, etc.) of the federal ministry in charge (cf. Federal Level).