NON-STATE ACTORS IN EDUCATION

1. Terminology

2. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision 

2.2 Non-state education provision 

2.3 Other types of schools 

3. Governance and regulations

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

3.2 Multi-level regulations 

3.3 Supplementary private tutoring 

 

  1. Terminology

According to the 1867 Basic Law on General Rights of Citizens anyone has the right to set up a private school. The 1962 School Organization Act (as amended in 2021), refers to ‘private schools’ as schools that are built and maintained by school owners other than the statutory school owners in accordance with the provision of the Private Schools Act (1962 amended 2020). The latter in its art. 17 also mentions denominational private schools, i.e. the schools created by the legally recognized churches and religious societies and their institutions as well as those by associations, foundations and funds that are recognized as denominational schools by the competent ecclesiastical (religious society) higher authority.

  1. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision

State schools

In Austria, most schools in primary education (4 years beginning at age 6) and lower secondary education (4 years beginning at age 10), and upper secondary education (four years beginning at age 14) are state schools (87%). Compulsory and free education is provided for nine years from age six to 15.

Non-state managed, state schools

No information was found.

Non-state funded, state schools

No information was found.

2.2 Non-state education provision

Independent, non-state schools

Private schools are those that are established and maintained by actors different from the statutory school provider. According to the Private Schools Act (1962 as amended in 2020), private schools are organized as "private schools without public status” or "private schools with public status”. The latter has the right to issue certificates of school attendance, which have the probative force of public documents and same legal effects as certificates issued by similar public schools. All private schools must comply with the curriculum, organization, and facilities to be authorized to operate. If parents or tutors enrol their child in a private school without public status, they must notify the education authority before starting the school year. Private schools may also be established through intergovernmental agreements in which a foreign curriculum is implemented. In Austria, the largest private school providers are faith-based schools, particularly the Roman Catholic Church; other private educational institutions include Montessori, Waldorf, Islamic or Jewish private schools, and international schools. In 2019/2020, private schools represented 12.6% of educational institutions and 10.7% of students’ enrolment.  

State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools

According to the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), denominational private schools are granted federal subsidies for personnel expenses. A non-denominational private school may also request subsidies from the federal government for personnel expenses. However, it must comply with the requirements established by the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), for instance that schools are not for profit, admissions must be organized as in public schools, and the number of pupils in the individual classes must not be below the usual number of pupils in classes at public schools of the same type and the same local area. 

Contracted, non-state schools

No information was found.

2.3 Other types of schools

Homeschooling

The Compulsory Schooling Act establishes that compulsory schooling can be fulfilled by homeschooling, providing that the lessons are equivalent to those being taught at public schools. Homeschooling must be notified to the board of education, and children must take exams at the end of the school year to demonstrate that they have attained the school's education goals they would have to attend.

Market contracted (Voucher schools)

No information was found.

Unregistered/Unrecognised schools

No information was found.

  1. Governance and regulations

Austria is organized as a federated country. According to the 1962  (amended in 2020), the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research is responsible for granting and withdrawal of public rights, for the subsidization of private schools and for the approval of the establishment, the statute, changes to the statute, the abolition for competitive sports or an educational establishment for the performing arts and the matters of the practice schools integrated into private universities of teacher education. Private higher education is regulated by the Private Higher Education Act, the accreditation of private HEIs is under the responsibility of the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria.

The Education Directorate of each Federal State is the education authority in their jurisdiction responsible for allocating individual teachers and school supervision. For Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the Federal States are responsible for issuing regulations for the operation and financing of a kindergarten in their jurisdiction. 

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

Early Childhood Care and Education in Austria includes  elementary facilities (like nurseries, kindergartens) for children from the age of zero  school entry According to Eurydice, in Austria, about 40% of kindergartens are run privately. Most private kindergartens are organized and maintained by private associations (60.9%), followed by church organizations (28.3%). Kindergartens are established by companies and private individuals, and others make up private childcare institutions.

Entry/Establishment

Registration and approval: For establishing a private nursery or preschool center, proprietors must request authorization from the competent educational authority in their respective Federal State. Art. 20 of Act of 30 October 2008 on Childcare sets that the establishment of a child education and care institution shall be permitted if 1. the legal entity or its representative body has either Austrian citizenship or the citizenship of a state whose nationals Austria is to grant the same rights as nationals on the basis of international treaties in the context of European integration, 2. the pedagogical, personnel and spatial requirements for the management of the children's education and care institution in compliance with this state law are met, and it is to be expected that the children's education and care facility will be visited permanently and regularly by the minimum umber of children specified in § 13.

The Federal States differ in regulations; however, basic requirements include the fulfilment of the required number of children in all groups and care facilities, the personnel compliance with professional requirements, the premises (exemplary e.g. Vienna) requirements, and suitability, including the minimum level of area per child, the relationship between supervised children and caregivers and the hygiene and safety requirements. 

Licence: The authority may grant the authorization subject to conditions (exemplary e.g. Vienna), or time limits if necessary to prevent risks to children's best interests from an educational, sanitary, hygienic, or fire police point of view or to prevent accidents or health impairments.

Financial operation

Profit-makingAccording to the Law on childcare in Burgenland (2008), for the education, upbringing, care, and care of school-age children, the legal entity may collect a contribution appropriate but at most cost-covering depending on the use, taking into account the financial capacity of the parents and the operation of a daycare centre or an age-extended kindergarten group with school-age children may not serve to make a profit. This obligation does not include the administration of meals, participation in special external offers (sports, foreign language teaching, musical support, etc.), or other material expenditure related to the care activity that does not remain the legal entity's property.

Taxes and subsidies:  According to the Agreement following Art. 15a B-VG between the federal government and the federal states on elementary education for the kindergarten years 2018/2019 to 2021/2022, for three-to-six-year-old children, incentives for qualified all-day care that is compatible with full employment of parents, are to be created and care ratios improved in order to eliminate regional deficits. Further targets are specified in Article 10 of the Agreement.

 The Federation shall grant the federal states special-purpose subsidies for the measures pursuant to Section II, divided among the Federal States. The subsidies, with the exception of the funds for compulsory attendance pursuant to Art. 5, and the co-financing shall be used for the following areas according to the following proportions: 1. For the expansion of appropriate elementary child education and care services, at least 65% of the federal subsidy 2. For early language development, at least 25% of the federal grant. The remaining 10% of the federal subsidy may be used flexibly by the federal states for the purposes under subsections (1) and (2).

In Vienna, children can register for a sponsored kindergarten place at private kindergartens, the support is paid directly to the private educational institutions. Private entities can be entitled to a national contribution if the management of the child education and care institution is free of charge.

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards:  The cross-state educational framework offers a uniform basic educational document to be applied and implemented nationwide into each federal state specific curricula, including linguistic support in kindergarten institutions. Further basic pedagogical documents such as the pedagogical guide for values (Werteleitfaden) are also laid down in the Agreement following Art. 15a B-VG between the federal government and the federal states on elementary education for the kindergarten years 2018/2019 to 2021/2022 and must be applied. Educational institutions may implement alternative educational projects with previous authorization.

Teaching profession:  According to the Federal Act legislation for principles relating to the professional employment requirements for kindergarten teachers and the Agreement in accordance with Art. 15a B-VG between the federal government and the federal states on elementary education for the kindergarten years 2018/2019 to 2021/2022, all kindergarten employees must fulfil the federal and state employment requirements according to the working position.

Equitable access

Fee-settingIn the Agreement following Art. 15a B-VG between the federal government and the federal states on elementary education for the kindergarten years 2018/2019 to 2021/2022, the fee-free attendance for 20 hours on 4 days for children in the last compulsory kindergarten year before school entry is anchored in Article 6. 

Admission selection and processesAccording to the Law on childcare in Burgenland (2008), in the case of child education and care institutions of private legal entities, accessibility may be limited to children of the members of a particular company and made depended on the payment of a contribution.

Policies for vulnerable groups: In Vienna, parents or tutors may apply for exemption from food contribution, low-income families may apply for a temporary reduction or a grant for the parental contribution. 

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Reporting requirements: According to the Law on childcare in Burgenland (2008), the legal entities must provide the state government with the information necessary for statistical purposes about childcare.

Inspection: Kindergartens and nurseries are subject to the supervision of the authority. The supervisory bodies must be granted access to the premises and the necessary information. The results of supervision must be documented in writing.

Child assessment: In Austria, a national wide uniform observation instrument for recording language competence in the educational language, German, is mandatory in all educational institutions. Pedagogical experts must carry out language assessments on the basis of a nationwide observation sheet for recording language competence in German from children with German as the first language (“BESK Kompakt”) or of children with German as a second language (“BESK-DaZ Kompakt”).

Sanctions: When a private nursery or preschool centre ceases to meet the conditions for authorization, the state government may sanction or close the institution. Also, when the nursery or kindergarten infringes any of the regulations established for its operation, such as untrained professionals, or exceeds the maximum number of children per group, it will be subject to a monetary fine.

Entry/Establishment

Registration and approval: For an individual or legal person to establish an educational institution in Austria, providers must fulfil the requirements set by the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020). All educational institutions must comply with the infrastructure requirements, school curriculum, teachers’ qualifications, and financial resources. Art. 7 setthat the establishment of a private school must be notified to the competent school authority at least three months before the intended opening of the school, with evidence of compliance with the provisions of  specific articles of the law.  

The competent school authority shall prohibit the establishment of the school within two months from the date of submission of the notification if the provisions referred to in paragraph 1 are not met. If the establishment of the school is not prohibited within this period, it may be opened.

Licence:  According to the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), Art. 14, (1) private schools that have a legally regulated school type designation shall be accorded public status if a) the school administrators (in the case of legal persons, their representative bodies), the headmaster and the teachers offer a guarantee for proper education that meet the requirements of the Austrian school system, and b) the class instructions correspond to that of a similar public school. (2) Private schools which do not correspond to a public type of school shall be accorded public status, if a)the requirements of subsection (1)a) are met; b) the organisation, curriculum and facilitiest of the school, as well as the teaching qualifications of the principal and the teachers, comply with an organisational statute issued or approved by the competent federal minister; c) the private school hasproven its ability to deliver quality teaching and learning; and d) the private school has  suitable teaching ressources for the fulfilment of the tasks of the Austrian school. (3) In the case of local authorities, legally recognised churches and religious societies and other bodies under public law, the compliance with the requirements of subsection (1) a) and subsection (2) a) shall be assumed by law.

Public schools may only be granted public status for the existing classes (year levels) and only for one school year at a time prior to their full curricular expansion. Once the school has been fully developed according to the curriculum, the public status can be granted for several school years, depending on the success of the teaching. If there is a guarantee that the legal requirements will continue to be fulfilled, the public status is to be granted, for the duration of the fulfillment of the statutory conditions after the school has been fully developed according to the curriculum.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): As stated in the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), Art. 6: The school operator shall prove that it has school premises which, in terms of construction and furnishings, correspond to the purpose and organization of the private school and to the principles of pedagogy and school hygiene.

Financial operation

Profit-making: No ban was found. However Art. 21 of the Private Act 1962 (amended 2020) set that private schools of public law that are not denominational or fall outside the eligible categories mentioned in Art. 17,  can only receive state subsidies when they are non profit.

Taxes and subsidiesAccording to the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), Art. 17, Legally recognized churches and religious societies shall be granted subsidies for personnel expenses for denominational private schools endowed with the public status. Furthermore, for non-denominational private schools with public law status, that do not fall under Art 17.,  the federal government may grant subsidies for personnel expenses in accordance with the funds available under the respective federal finance law if  a) the school  meets the needs of the population, b) the purpose of running the school is not to make profit, c) admissions are organized as those applicable to public schools and the number of pupils per class are not lower than in public schools. The Federal Act on the Taxation of Transactions, Art. 6, establishes that the turnover of private schools and other institutions of general education or vocational training institutions is except for VAT tax when demonstrated to be comparable to public schools.Quality of teaching and learning.

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: According to the 1986 School Teaching Act (amended in 2021), all educational institutions must comply with the general educational objectives, that must be included and covered in all educational institution curricula. In private schools with public satus, the conduct of a school experiment, Art. 7, requires agreement with the school owner, who can also apply for approval of a school experiment with the responsible Federal Minister. According to the 1962 School Organization Act (amended 2021), in private schools, at the request of the school owner, the competent school authority may order the use of a foreign language as a language of instruction. Private schools can introduce a foreign curriculum based on intergovernmental agreements. The Federal Act concerning religious instruction in school states that the curricula for religious instruction is issued by the relevant legally recognized church or religious society within the framework of the state-determined number of hours per week for religious instruction.

Textbooks and learning materialsThe 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020) set to obtain authorization, that a private school can only use  textbooks approved by the school authorities. According to the Federal Act concerning religious instruction in school, only textbooks and teaching aids that do not contradict civic education may be used for religious instruction.

Teaching professionAccording to the 1962 School Organization Act (amended 2021), all educators must comply with the academic requirements and training to work at an educational institution.

Corporal punishmentAccording to the 1986 School Teaching Act (amended 2021), physical punishment, offensive statements, and collective punishments are prohibited.

Other safety measures and COVID-19: Learning transitioned to online learning and homeschooling, facilitated by teachers and parents. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science, and Research has continuously issued different guidelines and regulations in response to the pandemic. The guidelines included modifications to virtual classes, language programmes, summer programmes, vaccinations, testing, and return to face-to-face classes.

Equitable access

Fee-settingAccording to Eurydice, private educational institutions charge fees to an amount determined by the provider, and some might charge a one-time registration fee.

Admission selection and processesThe 1986 School Teaching Act (amended 2021) dictates that admissions to a private school are carried out by a contract under civil law between the student and the private school owner. According to the 1986 School Teaching Act(amended 2021), the selection of pupils according to the language of instruction at the educational institution is permitted in private schools. For private schools, schools whose school owner is a legally recognized church or religious society, an institution existing under their law or another legal entity, unless it has a public law character, the selection of pupils according to confession and language and gender separation are permitted.

Policies for vulnerable groups: The Family Support Act provides for families to receive allowances for the necessary care and education of children and public transportation subsidies. The Schooling Allowances Act allows children and families to apply for school allowances based on income, family size, and marital status.

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

School board: Private schools must appoint a director for the private school's pedagogical and school administrative management and comply with the requirements established by the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020). 

Reporting requirements: All educational institutions must fullfill and comply with the information required in the Quality Management System for Schools (QMS) compulsory for all types of general education institutions in Austria.

School inspection: The supervision of a private school extends to the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020). According to the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), it is punishable to unjustifiably deny the organs of the responsible school authorities access to the school properties, the observation of the lessons, and the inspection of the school files or the notifications or information to be submitted.

Student assessment: Private schools with public law status may issue state-valid certificates. On the other hand, students attending private schools without public status must prove through an external examination that their knowledge is equivalent to that of public schools or private schools with public status. According to the 1962  Private School Act (amended 2020), certificates cannot be identical or confused with the certificates of a public school or a school with public rights without the school having public rights.

Diplomas and degreesTo access higher education, students must complete the Matura examination at the end of secondary education. The public law character of private schools grant the latter the right to have students passing examinations.

Sanctions: According to the 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020), it is a punishable offence to operate a private school without authorization and to use a name or issue certificates similar to another school with public status. The 1962 Private School Act (amended 2020) set that the authorization to operate a private school may be withdrawn or revoked with the school's closure by the school maintainer or by non-compliance with the conditions to operate a private school. Additionally, the aforementioned Act includes that the operation authorization may also be withdrawn after a year in which the school was not run, with the transfer of the school property to another person, or with the school maintainer's death or legal person dissolution.

In 2021, there were 22 public universities, 16 private universities, two theological schools, 21 universities of applied sciences, and 14 colleges of teacher education.

Entry/Establishment

Registration and approval:  For a private higher education institution to be established in Austria, providers must apply for accreditation to the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria and fulfill the requirements laid down in the 2021 Private Higher Education Act (PrivHG) as well as the Federal Act on External Quality urance in Higher Eduation (HS-QSG). According to the Accreditation Regulation for private HEIs, the criteria for institutional accreditation include profile and objectives, development plan, organization of the private HEI, course offering, degree programme and management, university staff, funding, infrastructure, and quality management system. A prescribed fee must accompany all applications.

Licence: Accreditation, the formal federal recognition of a private HEI is granted for six years for the first two consecutive accreditation periods, after that accreditation can be granted up to twelve years. All private HEIs must apply for reaccreditation.

Financial operation

Profit-making: No information was found.

Taxes and subsidies: Private HEIs are granted tax exemptions according to the 1988 Income Tax Act

The 2021 Private Higher Education Act, Art. 7., states a Federal financing prohibition: (1) The federal government may not extend any noteworthy financial support to a private HEI. Exceptions shall be made for  contracts for the rendering of particular research services by a private HEI as well das financial support from the Federal Government as part of publicly advertised research, technology, development and innovation programs.

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards According to the 2021 Private Higher Education Act, the degree programmes and curricula of private HEIs must comply with material, technical and formal requirements following international standards and the private HEIs must apply for individual degree programme accreditation.

Teaching professionAccording to the 2021 Private Higher Education Act, the private HEIs teachers are treated as teachers at Austrian public universities with regard to the provisions of the Settlement and Residence Act and the Foreigners Employment Act, as well as the ordinances issued based on these federal laws. Private HEIs must observe gender equality and a balanced representation of the sexes must be sought in the composition of the institutions and bodies.

Equitable access

Fee-setting: Tuition fees at private HEIs are not regulated, and there is no restriction on the fees to be charged by the private HEIs.

Admission selection and processes:  Admission requirements are examined during the accreditation process of an individual degree programme. Private HEIs decide whether they want to apply the optional nationwide or individual admission regulations and whether they include aptitude testing. Admission procedures must be published on their university website.

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Board: According to the Private Higher Education Act, each private HEIs must establish regulatory and management regulations that must be published, including the private university's organs and the statute.

Reporting requirements: According to the Private Higher Education Act a private HEIs must submit a report on the developments during the preceding academic year to the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria by the end of May each year. This report shall include: Representation of any advancements regarding the HEIs objectives; qualitative representation and analysis of the developments in the fields of degree programmes an teaching, research, internationality, cooperation; quantitative representation and analsysis of the developments regarding students, graduates, staff als well as financial structures; representation and analysis of gender equality measures.

Inspection: The Private Higher Education Act  establishes that private HEIs must annually submit a report on key areas of its performance to the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria and to publish this report. According to the Federal Act on External Quality Assurance in Higher Education the supervision of accreditated HEIs and degree programmes regarding accreditation requirements is task of the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria.

Assessment: No information was found.

Diplomas and degrees:  According to the Private Higher Education Act private HEIs are entitled to award academic degrees to graduates of the degree programme offered, even with the same denominations as stipulated for academic degress by public universities. Before awarding the academic degree, the graduate must hand over a complete copy of the positively assessed diploma or master's thesis, dissertation or artistic diploma or master's thesis or the comparable scientific or artistic work or the documentation of the artistic diploma or master's thesis to the private HEIs at which the academic degree is awarded. The private HEIs must ensure that these positively assessed works are publicly available or that sufficient publicity is guaranteed, whereby cooperation with a university library is possible. Scientific or artistic works or parts thereof that are not accessible for mass reproduction are excluded from the obligation to publish. Positively assessed dissertations must also be published by handing them over to the Austrian National Library. If available, the handover can also be made in electronic form.

Sanctions:  According to the Federal Act on External Quality Assurance in Higher Education private HEIs that cease to comply with the requirements for accreditation or the institution's accreditation is not renewed, all program accreditations of the educational institutions will be revoked.

3.2 Supplementary private tutoring

No legal regulatory framework for supplementary private tutoring in Austria was found. However, according to the study of the Austrian Chamber of Labour, AK Study: Tutoring in Austria 2020, 28% of the respondents received paid or unpaid tutoring during the school year, amounting to around 317,000 pupils nationwide. Due to the 2020 pandemic, new online resources emerged such as GoStudent, a digital platform for tutoring. 

Entry/Establishment

No information was found.

Financial operation and quality

Private tutoring does not fall under the spurious sales tax exemption. Therefore, tutors have to tax the delivery of their services at the normal tax rate of 20% and claim the input tax associated with this activity. However, if the revenues from tutoring activities do not exceed € 30,000 per year, tutors are exempt from sales tax due to the so-called "small business regulation." In this case, the tutor is not entitled to an input tax deduction for his expenses.

Teaching profession

No information was found.

Last modified:

Wed, 01/12/2021 - 13:40