For the last two decades secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges have been experiencing a steady rise in student numbers. This is partly due to the well-balanced curriculum they offer and which comprises general education and technical theory in the respective fields as well as practical training (compulsory work placements varying from school to school), and partly to the variety of educational possibilities and fields of specialization.
Apart from general education the focus of secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges is on initial vocational training. Upon completion of these schools and colleges graduates may either immediately enter the world of work or go for further education – depending on the respective educational level.
The individual schools' autonomy in the amendment of their curricula opens new ways, such as the development of specific foci or profiles which lead towards specialization in certain occupational fields.
There are different organizational forms of secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges which last from three to five years – technical and vocational schools lasting either for three or four years and technical and vocational colleges lasting for five years.
They may either be organized as full-time schools to be attended after grade 8 of compulsory education (secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges), as full-time schools to be attended after the "Reifeprüfung"-Exam (post-secondary courses) or as evening classes (for people under employment).
Much use is made of open and distance learning, for it proves to be a very appropriate means of education for adults and meets specific educational demands in certain regions.
Save for some private schools, attendance of technical and vocational schools and colleges is free of charge.
This also holds true for schools for people under employment. Students are, however, required to meet a minor part of the costs for study materials, textbooks (approx. 10 per cent) and for free public transport tickets (approx. 10 per cent).
Some of the technical and vocational schools and colleges, especially those with special foci, are organized as boarding schools for which grants are possible too.
The costs for the furnishing and equipment of schools and the costs for the teachers are basically met by the federal government save for part-time vocational schools for apprentices where federal and provincial governments share the costs.
Admission to secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges presupposes successful completion of grade 8 of compulsory education. Depending on the school type, admission is also made conditional upon the assessment of the student's performance in certain subjects and on entrance exams. Some types of technical and vocational schools and colleges also require an aptitude test.
Work Placement – a Typical Feature of Secondary Technical and Vocational Schools and Colleges
The curricula of secondary technical and vocational schools and colleges in Austria include compulsory work placement periods in the industry, the purpose of which is the practical application of knowledge and skills acquired in the various theory lessons and during training periods in workshops, labs, kitchens, etc. Work placements in schools and colleges for occupations in the business sector are optional. Depending on the respective school type, compulsory work placement periods may cover 4 to 24 weeks.
Students are required to do a project which has to be presented as part of the "Reifeprüfung"- and TVE-Exam and which provides them with the opportunity to demonstrate and use their acquired qualifications and skills.
Secondary technical and vocational colleges offer high-quality training which imparts qualifications that enjoy parity of esteem with qualifications acquired through post-secondary training in other EU Member States.
The training and education in technical and vocational schools ends with a school-leaving exam and qualifies students for immediate exercise of the respective occupations.
Technical and vocational colleges end with a double qualification: the "Reifeprüfung"-Certificate and TVE-Diploma, which does not only provide access to university education but also qualifies graduates for jobs on the executive level.
Basically all exams of secondary technical and vocational schools as well as of schools for people under employment may be taken as external exams, which means that school attendance is not required. This also holds true for the "Reifeprüfung"- and TVE-Exam as well as other school-leaving exams.
After having worked in their respective fields for a period of at least 6 years and upon having written a paper on a subject matter in the relevant field and subsequently having passed an exam held before a committee, graduates of colleges for engineering or colleges for agriculture and forestry may apply for the conferment of the title "Diplom-HTL-Ingenieur" or "Diplom-HLFL-Ingenieur".
Ever since the beginning of the 90s technical and vocational colleges which end with a "Reifeprüfung"-Certificate and TVE-Diploma have been enjoying quite some popularity, for these college do not only provide students with vocational qualifications and standard entry qualifications for university but are also fully recognized within the EU:
In compliance with the EU directive 95/43/EC as of 20 July 1995 qualifications provided by technical and vocational colleges and their special types enjoy parity of esteem with qualifications acquired through post-secondary vocational training in other EU Member States.
Geändert am 23.02.2007