According to the School Organisation Act of 25 July 1962 “it shall be the task of the Austrian school to foster the development of the talents and potential abilities of young persons in accordance with ethical, religious and social values and the appreciation of that which is true, good and beautiful, by giving them an education corresponding to their respective courses of studies. It shall give young people the knowledge and skills required for their future lives and occupations and train them to acquire knowledge on their own initiative”.
Schools at the secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level can – depending on the selected school type – provide well-founded or in-depth general education on the one hand and, on the other, prepare pupils at different levels for entry into working life (general education is also taught at these schools, though). Two school types at this level also lead pupils directly to the higher education entrance qualification, which gives them access to programmes at universities, including universities of applied sciences.
What is important in this respect is the “systemic diversity” of vocational education and training in Austria at the upper secondary level, which ranges from dual training in schools and companies onto VET schools and VET colleges. This means that 14-year-olds can choose between a wide range of education and training pathways.
The grades of lower secondary level (years 5 to 8) and the first grade of upper secondary level (year 9) are compulsory school years.
The lower secondary level (years 5 to 8) is provided by the following types of institutions:
After completion of the lower secondary level, pupils can enter schools of upper secondary level, provided they have a certain level of achievement (certain school grades).
The upper secondary level (years 9 to 13) comprises a general education branch and a vocational branch.
- General upper secondary education:
- Vocational upper secondary education:
- Part-time vocational school – in tandem with company-based vocational training (dual system) (years 10 to max. 13),
- School of intermediate vocational education and training (=school of intermediate VET) (years 9 to max. 12),
- College of higher vocational education and training (=college of higher VET) (years 9 to 13, ISCED 3/5),
- Vocational education and training programmes (=VET programmes) in healthcare professions (1-3 years).
The post-secondary non-tertiary sector (ISCED 4) comprises:
- Schools and other education and training programmes in the advanced-level healthcare professions,
- A higher education entrance examination.
The School Organisation Act (Schulorganisationsgesetz) regulates which parts a curriculum consists of. The curricula are prescribed by the Federal Minister of Education, Science and Research. These contain:
- the general educational objective
- didactic principles
- subjects taught including number of hours per week
- the content for the individual subjects
Most schools are completed with a final exam or a diploma.
The individual subjects are taught in schools by teachers who are free in their choice of methods.
Educational laws being relevant to secondary education are numerous, the most relevant comprise:
- Act on Federal Schools for Agriculture and Forestry
- Act on Private Schools for Agriculture and Forestry
- Basic Federal Act on Part-time Vocational Schools for Agriculture and Forestry
- Basic Act on the Maintenance of Compulsory Schools
- Basic Federal Act on Vocational Training for Agriculture and Forestry
- Basic Federal Act on Technical Schools for Agriculture and Forestry
- Compulsory Schooling Act 1985
- Compulsory Training Act - Education and Training up to 18
- Curricula for Vocational Schools
- Curricula for Compulsory Secondary Schools
- Curricula for Pre-vocational School
- Federal Constitutional Law
- Federal Law Governing Special Allied Health Professions
- Federal Law on Clinical and Therapeutic Masseurs
- Federal Law on Clinical Assistants and Health Care Support Workers
- Federal Law on Nursing Professions
- Federal Law on General Higher Education Entrance Examination for Graduates of the Initial Vocational Training System
- Industrial Code 1994
- Ordinance on Learning Standards for Schools
- Ordinance on Performance Evaluation
- Ordinance on the Final Examinations at Schools of Intermediate Vocational Education and Training, Colleges of Higher Vocational Education and Training, Kindergarten Teacher Training Colleges and Training Colleges for Social Pedagogues
- Ordinance on the Matriculation Examination and Matriculation and Diploma Examination at Academic Secondary Schools
- Private Schools Act
- Provincial Laws governing part-time Vocational and Technical Schools for Agriculture and Forestry
- School Education Act 1986
- School Education Act for Working Adults
- School Organisation Act
- School Periods Act 1985
- Vocational Training Act