Higher Education for Asylum Seekers & Temporary Leave to Remain

Study information for refugees

This section provides information about the study options of people who are asylum seekers with a residence entitlement card or have been granted temporary leave to remain.

Please note:

  • Advanced language skills are an absolute requirement for the access to higher education.
  • Recognised refugees and people who have been granted subsidiary protection have access to public funding for language courses throughout Austria.
  • Refugees have access to selected academic courses. Programs like MORE offer the possibility to improve language skills and get a taste of Austrian higher education.
  • Students are generally not entitled to receive the "Bedarfsorientierte Mindestsicherung BMS".

You will find information about these topics:

German Language lessons, certificates & funding

People who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection status have access to subsidised language courses.

People who have been granted temporary leave to remain currently do not have access to subsidised language courses.

About language courses: General information about language levels can be found on the website of the Austrian German Language Diploma ÖSD, a state-approved examination and assessment of German as a Foreign Language / German as a Second Language.

Please note that language courses are offered by various providers, many of them for profit.

Austrian Integration Fund ÖIF

The Austrian Integration Fund ÖIF supports recognised refugees and people who have been granted subsidiary protection through funding for literacy, elementary (A1, A2) and advanced courses (B1). Information about the ÖIF can be found here.

The ÖSD

The ÖSD offers language exams at levels A1 – C2. They are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

ALFATELEFON Österreich

The central advice center for basic education and literacy offers free telephone information and advice on courses on all aspects of basic education in Austria.
This course database also lists language courses for refugees.

Language course funding by the Public Employment Service Austria AMS

The AMS supports people who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection. If you are still an asylum seeker or have been granted temporary leave to remain, you cannot apply for funding. For more information please contact your local AMS.

Language certificates for students

Austrian higher education institutions usually teach in German (some programmes are available in English. An overview can be found at www.studienwahl.at). Admission to a degree programme usually requires a language level of B2, for some programmes even C2. Please contact the respective institution for information about conditions and accepted language certificates.

University Preparation Programmes are offered in the cities of Vienna, Graz and Leoben.

Wien: Vorstudienlehrgang der Wiener Universitäten
Graz: Vorstudienlehrgang der Grazer Universitäten und Hochschulen
Leoben: Vorstudienlehrgang Leoben

Funding for the University Preparation Programme of the Vienna Universities: The University of Vienna offers scholarships to asylum seekers and recognised refugees who have been admitted to the University of Vienna;

Preparation Programmes by Universities of Applied Sciences

Several Universities of Applied Sciences offer preparation programmes as well.

Wien: The FHWien der WKW offers language classes for incoming students "German as a foreign language" up to C1. 
St. Pölten: The FH St. Pölten offers German classes for their students up to B2.

Other possible funding sources for language classes

Further opportunities:

  • German courses for refugees
    Organisation: Vienna University of Economics and Business - Volunteering @ WU 
    Brief description: German courses (B2 and C1) for refugee adults who possess a general qualification for university entrance; additional offers by WU employees and students (conversation, PC courses, leisure activities ...)
    Duration of the offer: per language level approx. 10 hours per week for 1 semester 
    Target group: persons entitled to asylum, persons entitled to subsidiary protection, asylum seekers 
    Age group: from 18 years 
    Website
    Contact: Steffi Mackerle-Bixa (Leitung Volunteering@WU) 
    Email:t
  • miteinander.Bildung.leben - Deutsch- und Integrationskurs
    Organisation: FH Campus Wien - Gender und Diversity Management 
    Brief description: German and integration course (language level B2 and C1) for asylum seekers with a tertiary educational background. The aim is that the participants can achieve the prerequisites for a nostrification in the field of health/social work or for the continuation of technical and scientific studies. Intensive German lessons, ÖSD exams included, social work support, educational advice, workshops, inclusion activities (excursions, exchange meetings with students, tandem network at the FH campus Vienna)
    Duration of the offer: October 2020-July 2021, MON-FRI, if funding is approved, the new project will run from October 2021 to July 2022
    Target group: Asylum seekers and asylum seekers with a tertiary educational background Age group: no age limit, but university access and tertiary educational background is mandatory
    Other: Registration only possible via the Vienna Education Hub.
    Website
    Contact: Katrin Oberhöller und Sarah Wolf 
    Email:
    Tel.: +43 1 606 68 77 - 6146

Individual courses at universities and universities of applied sciences

As a refugee you have the opportunity to enrol as a non-degree student and get a taste of Austrian higher education by joining selected courses. You can also use the access to courses to practise your language skills.

MORE – An initiative by UNIVERSITIES AUSTRIA uniko

MORE-Courses offer refugees access to selected courses at the 21 state universities in Austria. Participants are admitted as non-degree students and might be able to pursue a degree later on.

MORE-Perspectives enables refugee academics and scientists to connect with members of Austrian universities.

MORE is open to asylum seekers, recognised refugees, people who have been granted subsidiary protection and people who have been granted temporary leave to remain ("Duldung"). Among the benefits:

  • Admission as a non-degree student
  • Tuition fee waiver
  • Access to the university library
  • Support in the day to day life by student buddies
  • Where possible support for travel expenses and expenses for teaching materials can be provided

More information about the initiative can be found here.

MORE-Perspectives

MORE-Perspectives enables refugee academics and scientists to connect with members of Austrian universities. More information on more perspectives can be found here.

MORE PROGRAMMS at Universities in Vienna:

MORE PROGRAMMS at Universities in Graz

MORE Programms at Universities in Leoben

More Programms at Universities in Salzburg

MORE Programms at Universities in Innsbruck

MORE Programms at Universities in Klagenfurt

MORE PROGRAMMS at Universities in Linz

More information

Other initiatives

The University of Applied Sciences FH Joanneum is planning various projects for refugees. More information can be found here and on the website of the FH Joanneum.

The University of Applied Sciences FH Vorarlberg offers admission to selected courses. More information can be found here.

Validation of an academic degree (Nostrifizierung)

Validation is the conversion of a foreign university degree into a corresponding (bachelor's, master's, diploma or doctor's) Austrian one by the organ in charge of study affairs at a university or university of applied sciences.

Academic degrees are validated for work purposes only. Only certain professional fields are affected; an overview can be found here.

People who have been granted temporary leave to remain do not have a work permit for Austria and cannot validate an academic degree.

Asylum seekers are currently not allowed to work in the professions that are affected and cannot validate an academic degree.

The Act Governing Employment of Foreign Nationals (Ausländerbeschäftigungsgesetz, AuslBG) provides for exemptions for employment in scientific / research areas. Please contact the Public Employment Service Austria AMS for more information about this so-called "Ausnahmebestätigung". A list of Regional branch offices can be found here (in German).

You do not need to have your degree validated if you would like to pursue further studies. Your qualification will be assessed during the admission process.

For more information about the validation of a degree please click here.

Start or continue to study at a higher education institution

In order to be admitted to a study programme you will have to fulfil certain requirements. For example, Austrian higher education institutions usually teach in German (some programmes are available in English. You will find more information about study programmes at www.studienwahl.at). Please contact the respective university for information about deadlines, conditions and accepted language certificates.

Please be aware that you need to obtain detailed information about admission requirements directly from the respective university. If you meet all requirements and have all diplomas and certificates at the time of application, you can enrol as a student.

Possible conditions are:

  • Hochschulreife: The institution will compare your qualifications to Austrian standards before admitting you to a study programme. You have to present proof that you have completed your secondary level education; if necessary, you will have to complete additional classes (among others, language skills: Admission to a study programme usually requires a language level of at least B2, depending on the programme even up to C2).
  • Some study programmes require entrance exams.
  • Admission to a master's degree requires a bachelor's degree or diploma degree from the same academic field.
  • Admission to a doctorate or PhD requires a master’s or diploma degree from the same academic field.
  • If you are planning to continue a study programme that you started abroad and had to abandon, you might be able to get credit for successful exams. The institution will check your qualifications.
  • Asylum seekers and people who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection do not need an admission statement from a university in their home country (German term: besondere Universitätsreife).

If you do not have the necessary certificates by the time you apply for admission to a study programme, the institution might enrol you as a non-degree student. This means that you will be able to attend a University Preparation Programme and continue studying as a regular student after completing it.

Austrian Universities
Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences
Austrian University Colleges of Teacher Education
Austrian Private Universities
Other Institutions of Post-Secondary Education

Language certificates for students

Austrian higher education institutions usually teach in German (some programmes are available in English. An overview can be found at www.studienwahl.at). Admission to a degree programme usually requires a language level of B2, for some programmes even C2. Please contact the respective institution for information about conditions and accepted language certificates.

University Preparation Programmes

If you do not have the necessary language certificates by the time you apply for admission to a study programme, the institution might enrol you as a non-degree student. This means that you will be able to attend a University Preparation Programme and continue studying as a regular student after completing it.

University Preparation Programmes are offered in the cities of Vienna, Graz and Leoben.

Funding for the University Preparation Programme of the Vienna Universities

The University of Vienna offers scholarships to asylum seekers and recognised refugees who have been admitted to the University of Vienna; you will find more information about the funding scheme here.

Infoevent

The OeAD hosted an information event for refugees (and those who work with refugees) in Vienna on May 22, 2018. You can find more information here.

The following section provides information about the study options of people who are recognised refugees or have been granted subsidiary protection.

The latest information about courses and relevant news can be found on our Facebook page. Contacts and information points can be found in our link collection.