Competence for legislation in education and its implementation is divided between the Federation, in particular the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the provinces, in particular the provincial governments and municipalities.
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) (Kindergartens and crèches)
Governments of the federal provinces are responsible for Provincial Kindergarten Education Acts (Provincial Laws of the 9 provinces). Further, municipalities, churches and other private providers are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of kindergartens and crèches. On federal level the Work Programme of the Austrian Federal Government 2020-2024 as well as the Lifelong Learning Strategy (LLL:2020) sets objectives to improve quality in ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) and to strengthen elementary education.
At school level the Federation (meaning in particular the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research has primary responsibility for school organisation, the organisation of school instruction and private schools. These matters are all governed by federal legislation.
With the 2017 Education Reform Act there was a reorganisation of school administration. This was taken over by boards of education, a joint authority of the federation and provinces, in 1.1.2019.
Below the provincial level, 31 educational regions were established. The number of educational regions in the federal provinces is usually between 2 and 7 regions, depending on the number of pupils and topographical conditions. The educational regions are set up as branch offices of the boards of education.
Until now, schools already had a certain autonomy in budgetary management and adapting curricula to local needs. With the Education Reform Act they were also granted greater autonomy with regard to the organisation of teaching and schools and in the selection and development of personnel. To use resources effectively, schools are able to join together to form clusters (cf. chapter 2.7.).
At central level many initiatives have been made to facilitate good governance within the school system:
- New matriculation examination
- Educational standards
- Evidence-based quality assurance
- All-day schooling
- School authorities management reform as well as Boards of Education Establishment Act
- Reform of teacher training
- New legislation on the employment of teachers
At central level the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research is responsible for universities, universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education. For all of them basic regulation is done by federal law, although public universities, universities of applied sciences and private higher education institutions (private HEIs) are organised as autonomous self-governing bodies.
In higher education a wide variety of instruments are used in order to manage and improve governance structures. Such instruments include a sophisticated reporting system, a variety of performance figures and indicators, managerial accounting, performance agreements with universities and development plans at the system level as well as the institutional level.
One main objective is to further develop Austrian adult education by catching up on educational qualifications (basic education and compulsory school-leaving qualification) and improving the provision of information and advice about education and lifelong learning possibilities in the area of adult education. At the federal level, responsibility for adult education and training predominately lies with the Ministry of Education, Science and Research and to a lesser extent with other ministries.