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Eurydice

EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Austria

9.Teachers and education staff

9.1Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 4 February 2024

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Institutions, level and models of training

In Austria, the training of teachers for pre-primary and primary/secondary level takes place in different institutions:

Kindergarten teachers

Teachers in the pre-primary education field (ISCED 0) are trained in teacher training colleges for early childhood education (BAfEPs). These are five-year colleges for higher vocational education (berufsbildende höhere Schulen, BHS) at upper secondary level (years 1 to 3: ISCED 3; years 4 and 5: ISCED 5).

In addition to pre-primary educational training content, general educational content is also taught throughout the entire training course. Specialisation in the area of day-care pedagogy is possible during the training. The qualification includes in-depth practical training in various early childhood educational institutions.

As well as the five-year BAfEPs there are four-semester post-secondary BAfEP VET courses and five/six-semester part-time VET courses which lead to the same qualification.

In the field of special needs education, i.e. work with children with disabilities or special needs, there are three-year, part-time courses for inclusive early childhood education available at the BAfEP, which conclude with the qualification of special needs kindergarten teacher. A requirement for attending a course is prior basic training as a kindergarten teacher.

Based on the three-year vocational schools for pedagogical assistant professions, which have been offered since the 2019/20 school year at some teacher training colleges for early childhood education (or based on other qualifications from schools for intermediate vocational education), three-year add-on courses are offered, which also lead to the matriculation and diploma examination for kindergarten education.

The training of assistants/helpers, who support the group-leading kindergarten teachers in their work, is not regulated uniformly throughout Austria. It takes place either in continuing education and training institutions or within the framework of school-based training in the form of the above-mentioned three-year vocational school for pedagogical assistant professions, which is concluded with the qualification of pedagogical assistant. 

Teachers at primary and secondary level

The training of teachers in Austria changed when the Federal Act on the New Teacher Training Scheme came into force in July 2013. Since then, all teachers have been trained through tertiary bachelor’s and master’s programmes (ISCED 6 and 7) at universities and university colleges of teacher education.

These cooperate as part of four regional development alliances throughout Austria to ensure that students can choose from the respective regional, jointly established study offers within an alliance.

The study offer comprises the following fields [More]:

  • teacher training programme for primary level (ISCED 1): this programme qualifies graduates to teach pupils aged between six and ten years old. It is offered solely at university colleges of teacher education. 
  • teacher training programme for secondary-level general education (ISCED 2 to 5): this programme qualifies graduates to teach pupils aged between ten and 19 years old in the general education subjects at secondary level chosen in the study programme. This programme is held by universities and university colleges of teacher education together.
  • teacher training programme for secondary-level vocational education and training (ISCED 3 to 5): this programme qualifies graduates to teach pupils aged between 14 and 19 years old in the VET subjects or packages of subjects of secondary-level VET chosen in the study programme. It is offered by university colleges of teacher education.

For the teaching in certain subjects, specific (university) establishments have to be attended or corresponding cooperation ventures exist between university colleges of teacher education and the institutions in question. These include the following:

All study programmes (eight-semester bachelor’s programmes with 240 ECTS and at least two- to three-semester master’s programmes with at least 60/at least 90 ECTS) contain a joint “pedagogical core” (scope: at least 60 ECTS) which guarantees a uniform basis in general educational fundamentals.

In addition, the practical aspects of the teaching position are covered here in the form of practical teaching experience (including in-service courses). After this, according to the different branches of study, there are special focuses or specialisations.

For all teacher training programmes, a one-semester introductory and orientation period (Studieneingangs- und Orientierungsphase or StEOP) is required.

The master’s programme can be completed immediately after the bachelor’s programme or on a part-time basis. In any case, new teachers are accompanied by a mentor in their first year of service (one-year induction year). From 2029 it will no longer be possible to complete the master’s programme on a part-time basis. 

Admission requirements

Kindergarten teachers

Admission to a teacher training college for early childhood education (BAfEP) requires successful completion of lower secondary education (ISCED 2) and positive completion of an aptitude test. This aims at acquiring skills and abilities that are important as part of the training (musical adaptability, creative design, physical education and sport, contact and communication skills).

If the final grades of the last class of lower secondary level fall below a certain level, an entrance examination is held in the three subjects German, mathematics and a modern foreign language.

Depending on the location, the practical aptitude test takes place between the end of January and the beginning of March and for VET courses in June. The entrance examination is held between the end of June and the beginning of July.

Access requirements for the completion of a BAfEP VET course are the HE entrance qualification (the Reifeprüfung matriculation exam, the Berufsreifeprüfung general higher education entrance exam providing university access for skilled workers, the Studienberechtigungsprüfung limited higher education entrance exam providing university entrance) and also completion of the aptitude test.

Access requirements for the completion of a BAfEP VET course are the HE entrance qualification (matriculation exam, the general higher education entrance exam, the limited higher education entrance exam) and also completion of the aptitude test. 

Teachers at primary and secondary level

After proving the general HE entrance qualification, all applicants for teacher training programmes at universities and university colleges of teacher education (PHs) need to complete an aptitude and admission procedure in several stages [More].  This comprises the following:

  • proof of general suitability: in an admission procedure, the general personal suitability for the teacher training programme and for later professional practice is determined.
  • proof of specific suitability: for certain subjects or certain study programmes specific suitability has to be proven before the start of studies (e.g. artistic suitability for the subject music education). 

To prove general suitability there is a standardised procedure, for which those who are interested have to register [More]

  1. Here at first they carry out an online self-assessment which aims to determine if the teaching profession is suitable for them. 
  2. If this is the case, they complete an admission test at the desired study location. This is a scientifically and practically sound, standardised computer test which lasts around three hours. Here individual resources (cognitive and language resources and also emotional and personal resources) are determined which candidates require to a defined minimum extent both for the planned study programme and also for the teaching profession itself. 
  3. At some teacher training establishments a face-to-face assessment is also part of the general admission procedure. During a standardised one-on-one interview with two assessors, other personal characteristics which are considered relevant for study success are evaluated. In addition to language and communicative aspects, these also include cognitive decision-making structures and also areas of reflection skills. The talk lasts around 15 minutes. 
  4. On the basis of the points achieved in the computer test and, if necessary, the face-to-face assessment, a ranking is drawn up which is used for the allocation of study places.

Deadlines and dates for the aptitude and admission procedure are determined by the university colleges of teacher education/universities themselves. The information and materials required for this have to be available on the websites of the respective institutions at least six months before the start. 

All teacher training programmes require an introductory and orientation period (StEOP) at the start of the bachelor’s programme which aims to determine if the study beginners can acquire the personal and professional skills necessary for the teaching profession in order to undergo further training. It also provides study beginners with an objective basis for making decisions for the personal assessment of the study choice which has been made. The StEOP exams have to be completed after the first semester. At university colleges of teacher education the number of StEOP exams must be determined by the respective establishment itself. At universities the StEOP must comprise at least eight and a maximum of 20 ECTS points in the form of at least two exams. The StEOP exams may be repeated twice at university colleges of teacher education and three times at universities. Only positive completion of the StEOP exams entitles prospective teachers to attend further courses and to write a bachelor thesis.

People who have already graduated from a specific relevant programme at a tertiary education establishment will be granted access to a teacher training programme for secondary-level general education (“lateral entry”). People who already have a vocational qualification (e.g. master craftsperson exam, licence exam, a certificate from a college for higher vocational education) and at least three years of relevant professional experience have access to bachelor’s programmes in secondary-level vocational education and training.

Universities and university colleges of teacher education have to meet the corresponding deadlines when publishing general admission periods for enrolling in study programmes and for the aptitude assessment. For universities the general admission period for the winter semester has to be at least eight weeks and ends on 5 September, for the summer semester it has to be at least four weeks and ends on 5 February. For jointly offered study programmes, the admission periods of the university and the PHs have to be compared. 

Curriculum, level of specialisation and learning outcomes

Kindergarten teachers

In their five-year form, the teacher training colleges for early childhood education (BAfEPs) impart comprehensive general education as well as a professional attitude, specialist knowledge and skills which are required to fulfil the educational tasks in ECEC services / institutions for children until they enter school. This includes contents in the subject areas religion, languages and communication, general education, early childhood education (0 to 6 years) – theory and practice, expression, design and physical education as well as subjects within the school’s autonomy. Intercultural learning, diversity and inclusive pedagogy are part of the curricula of teacher training colleges for early childhood education.

Training as a day-care pedagogue is possible as an optional addition. Day-care pedagogy contents and assisted learning are taught here.

The general educational objective, didactic principles, educational and teaching tasks and subject matter are laid down by the ordinance on the curricula of the teacher training college for early childhood education and college of social pedagogy and the ordinance on the curricula of the VET course of the teacher training college for early childhood education, the VET course of the teacher training college for early childhood education including the qualification for day-care pedagogy and the VET course of the college of social pedagogy (downloads here). Within the framework of school autonomy, educational institutions can make location-specific adjustments to the curriculum.

By comparison, the curricula for a VET course of the teacher training college for early childhood education contain the same occupation-specific content. 

Teachers at primary and secondary level

Teacher training is integrated in a professional career-oriented overall concept. The aim is to guarantee high-quality academic training with scientifically founded theory and practice which follows the recommendations of national and international education experts and fulfils the requirements of internationally competitive training in pedagogical and specialist terms. The areas of inclusive and intercultural competence are incorporated in all bachelor’s teacher training programmes. [More]. 

Teachers at primary level:

The specialist areas of the study programmes for the primary level comprise the following:

  • general educational fundamentals;
  • primary level pedagogy and primary level didactics;
  • as well as practical teaching experience.

Students enrolled in teacher training programmes for primary level are obliged to select at least one special focus (e.g. inclusive teaching, social pedagogy, early childhood education, multilingualism, or focus on a specialist educational area). 

Teachers of secondary-level general education or vocational education and training

Both in general education and also in vocational education and training the specialist areas of the study programmes for secondary level comprise:

  • general educational fundamentals;
  • subject-specific academic theory and subject-specific didactics;
  • as well as practical teaching experience.

Teachers of secondary-level general education choose two fields of study or one field of study and one specialisation (e.g. inclusive teaching, social pedagogy; multilingualism, media education). [More]

The educational objectives and training areas are set out in the respective federal laws (Universities Act 2002, Act on the Organisation of University Colleges of Teacher Education, Act on Quality Assurance in Higher Education) by means of framework specifications (according to Federal Act on the New Teacher Training Scheme). The detailed design of the curricula is the responsibility of the educational establishments, and with joint educational offers the coordination of the curricula must be ensured. Jointly established study programmes, e.g. those for teaching secondary-level general education, have an identical curriculum in any case.

For the bachelor’s programme for the primary level (240 ECTS, at least one focus):

  • general educational fundamentals (40-50 ECTS)
  • early childhood and primary level pedagogy and didactics (120-130 ECTS)
  • special focus (60-80 ECTS)
  • practical teaching experience must be integrated

For the master’s programme for primary level (at least 60 ECTS, at least one focus):

  • connection to the teaching activity and with academic/scientific foundation
  • general educational fundamentals so that, together with the bachelor’s programme, at least 60 ECTS are contained in the overall course
  • for graduates of primary level with specialisation in a specialist educational area another master’s programme (at least 90 ECTS) can be offered for secondary-level general education.

For the bachelor’s programme for secondary-level general education (240 ECTS, one field of study and one specialisation or two fields of study):

  • general educational fundamentals (40-50 ECTS)
  • field of study-related subject-specific didactics and subject-specific academic theory per field of study (95-100 ECTS) and for more than two subjects with overlapping contents (so-called “coherent package of subjects”, 190-200 ECTS)
  • or specialisation (95-100 ECTS)
  • practical teaching experience

For the master’s programme for secondary-level general education (at least 90 ECTS, one field of study and one specialisation or two fields of study):

  • connection to the teaching activity and with academic/scientific foundation
  • general educational fundamentals so that, together with the bachelor’s programme, at least 60 ECTS are contained in the overall course
  • field of study-related parts per study course have to be included to the extent of at least 115 ECTS in the overall course
  • for students of secondary-level general education a further master’s programme (120 ECTS) can be offered for primary level.

For the bachelor’s programme for secondary-level vocational education and training:

  • general educational fundamentals (60 ECTS)
  • occupation-specific fundamentals (120 ECTS)
  • subject-specific didactics (60 ECTS)
  • practical teaching experience

For the master’s programme for secondary-level vocational education and training (at least 60 ECTS, one field of study and one specialisation or two fields of study):

  • connection to the teaching activity and with academic/scientific foundation
  • pedagogical specialisations 

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Teacher educators

Kindergarten teachers

In order to be able to teach theoretical and practical subjects (practice and didactics in ECEC services / institutions or after-school care) at teacher training colleges for early childhood education (BAfEPs), since the academic year 2019/20, as part of the teacher training for secondary level (vocational training or general education), the bachelor’s programme “Secondary Level Vocational Training in the Field of Education and Development Support” (see, for example) with a total of 240 ECTS at a university college of teacher education has been necessary. A prerequisite for the completion of this programme is employment as a teacher at a teacher training college for early childhood education and relevant professional experience of at least two years.

In addition to their already completed higher education studies (master’s programme in the field of educational sciences or a comparable programme), teachers in the new Service Code for the theoretical subjects pedagogy or inclusive pedagogy must complete the bachelor’s programme “Secondary Level Vocational Training - Relevant Studies/Complementary Studies” (see, for example) with a total of 60 ECTS at a university college of teacher education. 

Teachers at primary and secondary level

University Colleges of Teacher Education

Teachers at university colleges of teacher education have completed

  • a teacher training programme at a university college of teacher education or university or
  • are lecturers temporarily assigned by the rectorate.

Depending on their allocation to different salary or pay groups, they need to fulfil additional prerequisites. 

Universities

The general provisions for teaching staff in the training of teachers do not differ from those of the other university staff. The usual appointment procedures apply to university professors. Scientific and artistic employees in the fields of research, art and teaching must furnish proof of a qualification that is appropriate for their foreseen employment. The same applies to lecturers temporarily assigned by the rectorate.

Practical teaching experience

While completing the practical teaching experience in a bachelor’s programme, the students are supervised by teachers from practice schools and instructors from their training establishments (university and/or university college of teacher education).

Mentors in the induction period

In the one-year induction period, graduates are accompanied by mentors. These must have at least five years of professional experience and prove they have completed a mentoring course (60 ECTS). 

Qualifications, evaluation and certificates

Kindergarten teachers

Teacher training college for early childhood education (BAfEP) is completed with the matriculation and diploma exam. The final examinations comprise:

  • a diploma thesis (including presentation and discussion)
  • three or four written tests
  • two or three oral exams.

The examination field of the diploma thesis contains one or two compulsory subjects or the optional subject “Ethnic Language” at the candidate’s choice. In addition to subjects from the field of general education (German, English, applied mathematics), the written examinations cover a further subject from the field of subject-specific theory (pedagogy or didactics).

The oral examination comprises subjects from general education as well as vocational theory and practical subjects. In the case of specialisation in the field of day-care education, the exam subject is extended by the field of “didactics of day-care education and assisted learning”.

General examination and qualification requirements are regulated by the School Organisation Act and the School Education Act. The specific examination regulation is stipulated in the Ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research on Final Exams at Schools for Intermediate Vocational Education and Colleges for Higher Vocational Education (BMHS Examination Regulation, Federal Law Gazette II no. 177/2012 - as amended).

The VET course of a teacher training college for early childhood education is concluded with a diploma exam. This exam comprises:

  • a diploma thesis (including presentation and discussion)
  • a written examination
  • two oral exams.

At the candidate’s choice, the examination field “diploma thesis” contains one or two compulsory subjects or the optional subject “Ethnic Language” or a compulsory exercise. The written examination includes an examination paper from the field of subject-specific theory (pedagogy or didactics).

The oral examination comprises the compulsory subject pedagogy or didactics and an elective subject. In the case of specialisation in the field of day-care education, the oral exam is extended by the examination field of “didactics of day-care education and assisted learning”.

The examination conditions are laid down in the Examination Regulation for VET Courses and Special Forms for People in Employment at BMHS (Federal Law Gazette II No. 36/2017 - as amended).

Teachers at primary and secondary level

The university college of teacher education and university programmes are concluded with a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or Master of Education (MEd). The requirements for bachelor’s and master’s theses in teacher training correspond with the general requirements for obtaining these degrees and are set out in the Universities Act and the Higher Education Act:

  • to obtain the BEd degree, one or more bachelor’s theses have to be written as part of courses.
  • to obtain the MEd degree, a master’s thesis has to be written, and here for artistic subjects there is the possibility of submitting artistic works to obtain the MEd degree.

General exam and qualification requirements are set out in the 2005 Act on the Organisation of University Colleges of Teacher Education and the 2002 Universities Act, more detailed provisions are specified in the respective curricula of the universities and university colleges of teacher education.

The following two bodies are essential for the quality assurance of teacher training:

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Alternative training pathways

Kindergarten teachers

The higher education study programme “Bachelor of Arts: Education and Upbringing +” (BABE+) is offered in cooperation between the Koblenz University of Applied Sciences and the Vienna private kindergarten and after-school care provider Kinder in Wien (KIWI). The programme lasts seven semesters, comprises 210 ECTS and, following a professional recognition procedure, entitles students to do educational work with children aged 0-12 years in crèches, kindergartens and after-school day care facilities.

The prerequisite is either

This vocational qualification comprises the completion of vocational training with good results and subsequently at least two years of employment with Kinder in Wien (KIWI).

The concept of the dual study programme involves a combination of practical work in kindergarten and theoretical training at university level. Parallel to their studies, the students are employed as pedagogical assistants in a kindergarten run by KIWI – Kinder in Wien for about 20 to 25 hours a week. 

Teachers at primary and secondary level

In the event of short-term bottlenecks in certain federal provinces, schools or subjects, corresponding legal options are established to enable teachers in training to start their careers earlier or, at short notice, to train specialist staff for VET subjects with the required pedagogical foundations.

For longer-term alternative training pathways, the following framework specifications have been defined in the Federal Act on the New Teacher Training Scheme:

  • a further master’s programme (120 ECTS) for primary level for graduates of secondary-level general education. Result: secondary-level teachers of general education can also teach at primary level
  • a further master’s programme (at least 90 ECTS) for secondary-level general education for graduates of primary level with a specialisation in a specialist educational area. Result: primary-level teachers can also teach in secondary-level general education but in only one subject (the one which relates to the specialist educational area in the focus)
  • study programme for secondary-level general education for graduates of relevant studies. Result: graduates of relevant studies (e.g. physics) can acquire a qualification to teach the corresponding subject (e.g. physics) as part of secondary-level general education.
  • study programme for secondary-level vocational education and training for graduates of relevant studies (at least 240-300 ECTS) and with relevant professional practice. Result: specialists with corresponding professional experience can teach secondary-level vocational education and training. 

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