The Austrian education system is very similar to the Swiss and German systems. A specific feature of the Austrian system is the four-year primary /elementary education followed by secondary education that is split up into two four-year periods.
The division is made according to the ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) classification of the UNESCO. The Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture coordinates important tasks such as education and training of teachers and maintenance of schools, the Federal Ministry of Science and Research assumes the governance of the higher education system.
> Elementary Level
The elementary level (ISCED 0) in Austria refers to the following childcare institutions: crèches, kindergartens, after-school care facilities and children’s groups. Playgroups and nannies also offer their services. And also pre-school education of children of school age who are not yet ready for school belongs to the elementary level.
> Primary Level
Compulsory education in Austria starts at the age of 6 and lasts for nine years. The primary level (ISCED 1) lasts four years. Schools of this level are primary/elementary schools as well as special needs schools and integrative/inclusive education in regular schools.
> Secondary Level I
After completion of the 4-year primary level secondary level I (ISCED 2) starts (5thto 8th form). Pupils can choose between the following types of schools (different admission requirements): upper level of primary/elementary school, secondary modern school, grammar schools as well as special needs schools and inclusive education.
> Secondary Level II
Secondary level I is followed by secondary level II (9th school year) (ISCED 3 & 4), with the following options: “polytechnical” schools (= schools preparing pupils for an apprenticeship or job), vocational schools and apprenticeships (dual system), vocational secondary schools, vocational colleges (excluding the 4th and 5th forms), upper level of grammar schools (higher secondary schools of general education) as well as the vocational preparatory year and integrative vocational education.
> Post-secondary Level
The non-tertiary postsecondary level refers to the 4th and 5th forms of vocational colleges, the clinical medical schools, the schools for medical services as well as education for medical occupations, preparatory and continuing education courses and the vocational matriculation examination.
> Non-university Tertiary Sector
After having completed a general or vocational education people can pursue an education in the non-university tertiary sector (ISCED 5B): schools for mastercraftsmen, foremen and construction trades, kollegs, midwife colleges, medical-technical colleges, or to pursue an education in cardio-technical service.
> Tertiary Level
After having completed a general or vocational education people can study at a university, university of applied sciences or a university college of teacher education. Having completed a university degree you can continue your studies to obtain the highest possible degree (ISCED 6), which is the doctoral or PhD degree.