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It may be relatively small, but there are many reasons to study in Austria, including a number of universities which rank among the world's best.
In terms of area, Austria is no bigger than the US state of Maine, and in terms of population, it is home to fewer people than London or Paris – but Austria should not be judged by its size.
This is, after all, the nation which gave us Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Wittgenstein (and let’s not forget: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Von Trappe family).
Sandwiched between Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary (with which it was once unified), Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Lichtenstein, Austria is located pretty much in the dead center of Europe, forming a bridge between east and west.
Geographically, Austria is dominated by the Alps in its southeast and center, and the River Danube – 10% of which lies within the nation’s borders – on which the capital city Vienna was built.
Quality of life in Austria is generally high. In fact, in Mercer's 2012 Quality of Living Survey, Vienna was named the city with the world's best quality of life. Vienna is home to over a quarter of Austria’s population, and is known as one of Europe’s great cultural capitals. For fans of architecture, music and art, this is not to be missed.
Universities in Austria are highly international. More than 15% of the total tertiary enrolment in the country is made up of international students, rising up to more than 20% if only advanced research programs are considered.
In fact, according to the OECD, 1.6% of all international students worldwide study in Austria – not a bad figure at all for a nation of such diminutive proportions.
Austria's leading university, Universität Wien, sits at 160 in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings, and is joined by Technische Universität Wien (274), Universität Innsbruck (276), Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (373), Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (451-500), Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg (551-600) and Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (601+).
Find out more about some of Austria's top student cities...
Universities in Vienna, Austria’s capital and biggest city by far, include the country’s two best according to the QS World University Rankings. Combined with a diverse student population and high quality of living, this propels Vienna into the top ten of the QS Best Student Cities ranking.
Unsurprisingly given the city’s rich cultural heritage, Vienna is also home to a number of prestigious academies dedicated to fine art and music. If you’re inclined towards these disciplines, where better than the city of Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Fuchs, Klimt and Loos – amongst others?
Vienna is a famously beautiful city – almost half of which is given over to green spaces – dominated by baroque architecture, magnificent palaces and some of the world’s most celebrated museums, and is also renowned for its cafes and desserts.
Twice host to the Winter Olympics, alpine city Innsbruck is a paradise for those with a passion for the piste.
Innsbruck is also known for being a student-friendly town, with a large number of pubs, bars and clubs, for those who are that way inclined. And during the day, you’ll be met with a charming historical town surrounded by lush greenery and imposing mountains.
Universities in Innsbruck are led by Universität Innsbruck (which dates back to the 17th century and ranks within the world's top 300. The city also has several other higher education institutions, including medical and management schools.
Salzburg is one of Austria’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a well preserved historical city, presided over by the imposing Festung Hohensalzburg, a 16th century (in its current form – construction actually started in the 11th) fortress that sits on a mountain overlooking the town, and boasts an old town that has earned World Heritage Site status.
But Salzburg is no time capsule, and in its bars, cultural institutions (modern and traditional), and winter sport there’s no shortage of things to do once you’re done with the tourist trail. Universities in Salzburg include the Paris Lodron Universitat Salzburg (also known as the University of Salzburg), which is ranked in the top 600 of the QS World University Rankings 2012/2013.
Austria’s second largest city has a reputation for being a student town. Indeed, the many universities in Graz apparently account for one in five people who live in the city. The best-known of these is Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz.
Unsurprisingly then, Graz offers a vibrant nightlife, offsetting the famously relaxed attitude of the city during the day. It is also renowned for its food, due to its location at the heart of Styria, which means that a wide range of fresh produce is always available.
The city itself has been afforded the status of a culinary region as a result of the Krauthäuptel – a unique variety of lettuce.
Perhaps not as well known as the historical and alpine cities which tourists tend to favour, Linz is nonetheless Austria’s third biggest city.
Don’t think that this thoroughly modern city is devoid of the cultural draw of the country’s other cities – it was, as a matter of fact, European Capital of Culture in 2009. This was largely the result of a drive to enliven a less aesthetically charming city with daring contemporary architecture, which has seen the city transformed into a gleaming, sleek 21st urban space.
However, this is not to say that Linz lacks old world charm either – there are plenty of traditional cafes and bars, and you can always catch a concert at the Brucknerhaus - named after one of the region’s most famous sons, Anton Bruckner - or enjoy a day at the Lentos Art Museum. Universities in Linz are led by Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, which ranks in the world's top 600 in the QS World University Rankings 2012/2013.
See where Vienna ranks in the QS Best Student Cities >
To apply to study in Austria, you should apply directly to the university at which you wish to study.
Your secondary qualifications must be considered to be of an equivalent level to those offered in Austria, and must be sufficient to gain entry to a similar program in the country where it was earned.
You will also need to prove that you speak German to the level stipulated by the university. The vast majority of courses in Austria are taught in German, though English is widely spoken as a second language.
If you are applying to a universität der künste (university of the arts), then you will have to sit an entrance examination.
As with other countries in the EEA, tuition fees and visa requirements for Austria depend on whether or not you are a citizen on of an EEA nation.
Applicants from the EEA (and Switzerland):
• Entitled to the same free education as local students. However you will have to pay fees if you take over two semesters more than the standard amount of time to complete your course.
• Do not require a visa to enter or study in Austria.
• Must demonstrate you have enough money to pay your living expenses and have purchased medical insurance (preferential rates of EU$32 per month are available to students) to local municipal authority.
Applicants from outside the EEA:
• Must pay fees of US$485 per semester
• Must apply for the appropriate residence permit (D) from local Austrian embassy (if you are from a nation which does not require a visa to enter the country you can do this in Austria, otherwise you must apply from your country of residence).
• In order to get this, you must show a letter of acceptance, proof that you have found somewhere to live, proof that you have purchased medical insurance, a photo, your birth certificate, proof of sufficient financial means (deemed to be €438 – or US$585 – per month; you need to have enough for 12 months), proof you have somewhere to stay, and a police certificate where appropriate.
• If you have to sit an entrance exam, you will be issued a conditional letter of admission and only have to demonstrate credibly that you will have sufficient financial means and accommodation when applying for your permit. Pass your exam and you will have to provide more solid proof.
• However, if you do not need a visa to enter Austria, then you can simply sit your exam and then apply for a residence permit while there.
• Must apply to Labour Service if you want to work.
Click to apply
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