01 - Austria - Historical overview

Until 1992, training for the higher-level paramedical professions was governed by the "Krankenpflegegesetz" (Nursing Act, Federal Law Gazette No. 102/1961). Depending on the branch selected, training at the paramedical schools lasted two to three years.

The Act regulating the higher-level paramedical professions ("MTD-Gesetz") which was passed in 1992 laid down separate rules governing the higher-level paramedical professions; it extended training to three years and raised the status of the paramedical schools to that of colleges ('Akademien'). Diplomas awarded by a paramedical school before 1992 are treated as equivalent to a diploma awarded for the successful completion of the course at a paramedical college in Austria.

In 2005 the legal basis for providing Fachhochschule bachelor’s degree programmes for higher-level paramedical professions was anchored in the Act regulating the higher-level paramedical professions (MTD-Gesetz). The programmes are subject to the provisions governing Fachhochschule programmes (university-level study courses providing a scientifically based vocational education). The Ordinance on Fachhochschule bachelor’s degree programmes for higher-level paramedical professions issued by the Federal Minister of Health and Women guarantees minimum standards for the training.

The first Fachhochschule bachelor's degree programmes for higher-level paramedical professions were launched in the autumn of 2006.

Institutions: Federal Ministry for Health, Family and Youth
Legislation: Bundesgesetz über die Regelung der gehobenen medizinisch-technischen Dienste (MTD-Gesetz) (Federal Act Governing Higher-level Paramedical Professions)



Development of the universities before 1945

In 1365, Count Rudolf IV of Austria founded the University of Vienna, today the oldest university in the German-speaking area. The University of Vienna was able to retain a large degree of autonomy from the reigning princes and the church, and saw a period of thriving prosperity. After a massive decline in the wake of the Great Plague, the Turkish Wars, Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the counter movements from 1554 onwards ushered in a phase in which Vienna University was gradually taken over by the Jesuits.

The University of Graz, founded in 1585, was a product of the Counter-Reformation. It emerged from a Jesuit college and was a purely ecclesiastic institution of higher education run by the Jesuits. The University of Innsbruck was founded in 1669 to fill the gap in the Habsburg territory between central Austria (with the universities of Vienna and Graz) and western Austria (with the University of Freiburg im Breisgau). Again, the organisational set-up and teaching was left to the Jesuits. In contrast, the foundation of the University of Salzburg in 1622 was sparked not so much by Counter-Reformation, but by the quest of the Benedictine order, dominating the princely arch-bishopric of Salzburg, to cement its power within the church.

Four universities altogether existed in the 17th and 18th centuries on Austria's present-day territory. They were all subject to the influence of the church, had no independence in organisation or teaching, and therefore were excluded from the developments of modern-day scientific research. A growing number of students from the nobility led to a 'militarisation' of university life. During the reigns of Empress Maria Theresa and her son Joseph II, the entire system of schooling was reformed, including that of higher education. The universities were reorganised and transformed into state institutions.

The Universities of Graz and Innsbruck were dissolved in 1782 in the wake of Emperor Joseph's education reforms and re-established as schools for the training of the clergy, civil servants, rural doctors and midwives ('lycées'). Although these reforms were all but reversed after the death of Joseph II, the universities, having become public institutions, remained under the control of the state.

Some far-reaching decisions, which were to have a lasting impact on university education in Austria, were taken in the early 19th century. Whereas the University of Salzburg was dissolved under Bavarian rule in 1810, the lycées in Innsbruck and in Graz were re-constituted as universities in 1826 and 1827 respectively. Early forms of the present-day Technical Universities in Vienna, Graz and Leoben developed. The revolution of 1848 brought about a decisive re-orientation of universities; in the new constitution, they were granted a certain degree of self-governance. The state guaranteed the freedom of teaching and of study, the teaching competences, the appointment of professors, and university administration were re-designed. Medieval relics such as 'nations' of 'doctoral collegiates' were dissolved. The philosophical studies were all uniformly organised in a number of faculties and expanded to last four years. Admission was re-organised by the introduction of secondary higher academic education leading to the 'Matura' (the university enrolment examination). The reform of organisational set-up and studies went hand in hand with a large-scale expansion in terms of staff, material resources and technical specialisation.

The second half of the 19th century saw the creation and expansion of specialist and technical universities. From 1872, the "Joanneum" in Graz, founded by archduke Johann, and the "Polytechnisches Institut" in Vienna, founded in 1815, the later Universities of Technology in Graz and Vienna, were run as universities, and the University of Agriculture was founded anew.

In 1896, the School of Veterinary Medicine under military administration was granted university status, in 1898 an export academy was opened in Vienna as a precursor of today's University of Economics. The privilege to confer doctor's titles was granted to the two technical universities in 1901, to the University of Mining in Leoben in 1904 (founded in 1840), and to the University of Veterinary Medicine in 1908. In its external structure, the system of higher education which evolved in the 19th century has remained largely unchanged up to the present day.

After the fall of the monarchy, Austria 's universities and higher-education establishments were run by the Republic as state institutions. The period of the First Republic was characterised by a strong involvement of the institutions of higher education in the political struggles of the time. Torn by the conflicts between the nationalities, which had been raging since the late 19th century, many graduates, and also the universities, failed to come to terms with the spirit of the Republic and of democracy. During the inter-war period, the universities were laced with anti-Austrian German nationalism, and widely penetrated by anti-Semitism. When Austria was annexed to the Third Reich, higher education fell under German university legislation. Political opponents, Jewish scientists and students were banned from universities and institutions of higher education, they fell victim to the Nazi machinery of destruction and the Second World War, or were forced into emigration, among them many of Austria 's most renowned and competent scientists.

Development of the universities after 1945

The Austrian University legislation was re-enacted after World War II, and teaching at universities resumed quickly. The entanglements since 1918 had wrought serious damage upon the universities: a substantial loss of prestige, a stigma of political seductivity and compliance to power, only few university teachers with a clean political slate, and few qualified scientists. Up to 1955, Austria's universities were governed by a multitude of complex university acts dating from the 19th century.

The 1955 'Hochschulorganisationsgesetz ' (University Organisation Act) was the first legislative framework to apply to all universities and institutions of higher education, without introducing any major reforms to the organisational set-up. One can rightly claim that much of the 19th century university organisation remained in force until the higher education reform of the 1970s.

New universities were set up in the 1960s. The University of Salzburg was founded in 1962, the University of Social and Economic Studies in Linz started to operate in 1966. In addition to the social and economics department, the latter now also runs a law and a science department. The University of Educational Sciences was founded in 1970 in Klagenfurt, reorganised in 1993 and renamed into Klagenfurt University. At that time, it was divided into two departments, an educational and an economic faculty.

Starting with the 'Allgemeines Hochschul-Studiengesetz' (General University Studies Act) of 1966, the entire system of university studies was given a new legal framework and modernised. The 1997 "Universitäts-Studiengesetz" (University Studies Act) again introduced fundamental change such as the decentralisation of responsibilities. The amendment to the 1999 "Universitäts-Studiengesetz" (University Studies Act) introduced the three-tier system of studies (bachelor – master – doctor).

A new 'Universitäts-Organisationsgesetz' (University Organisation Act) came into force in 1975. It introduced the participation of all categories of university teachers, of students, and of the administrative staff in the decision-making processes of the collegiate bodies and reorganised institutes (university departments).

The 1993 "Universitäts-Organisationsgesetz" (University Organisation Act) granted increasing autonomy and scope for manoeuvre to universities, culminating in the 2002 "Universitätsgesetz" (Universities Act) which provided for a complete autonomy by introducing new steering instruments such as global budgets and performance agreements. Moreover the 2002 Act set up three independent medical universities (Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck).

Further developments in the public higher education system, in particular the fundamental changes that were introduced by the new 2002 "Universitätsgesetz" (Universities Act), are dealt with in various sections.

Development of arts and music education before 1945

It was relatively late in history that arts education was organised as a school-like system. At the arts universities, where one-to-one coaching and 'master classes' predominate, some elements of highly individual, hardly school-like forms of instruction by acclaimed 'masters' have been retained to the present day.

The Academy of Fine Arts is the oldest arts university in Vienna. In 1696, Emperor Leopold I founded an 'Academia of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Perspective and Fortification'. 1766 saw the foundation of the 'Imperial and Royal Copper-Engraving Academy', and 1767 that of an 'Engraver's Academy'. In 1772, Empress Maria Theresa united the three academies into the 'United Imperial and Royal Academy of Fine Arts'. After several reorganisations, the Academy of Fine Arts was elevated to the rank of a university by a new charter in 1872. In its substance, this charter was adopted into the 'Akademie-Organisationsgesetz' (Academy Organisation Act) of 1955, which was superseded by the Academy Organisation Act of 1988.

The early form of today's universities of music goes back to the first half of the 19th century. In 1817, the 'Society of the Friends of Music of the Austrian Imperial State' opened a school of song in Vienna that was directed by Antonio Salieri. Instrumental classes were soon to follow.

Today's university of music in Graz originated from a school of vocal music of the same period (1816) maintained by the Styrian Society of Music. In Salzburg, the Cathedral Musical Society founded in 1841 is the precursor of today's Mozarteum university of music.

In 1909, the Vienna Conservatoire was taken over by the state and renamed into 'Imperial and Royal Academy for Music and Performing Arts'.

The 'Mozarteum', run since 1881 by the International Mozarteum Foundation, was endowed with public-sector status in 1914, and transformed into a conservatoire. In 1922, it came under government administration.

The foundation of what was later to become "Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien" (University of Applied Arts Vienna) must be understood in the context of the school reforms of the outgoing 19th century, which reflected economic developments. The 'Arts and Crafts School of the Imperial and Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry' was founded in 1867 with the intention to educate specialist artistic staff for industry. In the course of time, disciplines such as metal-working or wood-sculpture were included in the training repertory. In 1909, the arts and crafts school was brought under government administration.


Development of the arts universities after 1945 up to 2002

Between 1938 and 1945, all of today's arts universities were placed under German administration. During the Second Republic they were transformed into Academies, the Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (1947), and the Academy for Music and Performing Arts 'Mozarteum' in Salzburg (1953). The Graz conservatoire was incorporated in the federal administration in 1963 as 'Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Graz'. The 'Kunsthochschulorganisationsgesetz' (Fine-Arts Colleges Organisation Act) of 1970 transformed these academies into colleges. In 1973, the Arts College of the city of Linz, founded in 1947 as a private school, was taken into federal administration as the 'College of Artistic and Industrial Design in Linz'.

The 1998 "Kunstuniversitäten-Organisationsgesetz" (KUOG) (Arts Universities Organisation Act) transformed the fine-arts colleges into arts universities. This went hand in hand with a fundamental restructuring of their organisational set-up. A comprehensive system of institutes (departments) was set up, which reduced the number of organisational units entrusted with teaching, developing and studying the arts, and with research, from 422 to 68. This strengthened the links between the arts and science.

Universität Mozarteum Salzburg
Mirabellplatz 1 5020 Salzburg
Tel.:0662/889 08-0


Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien
Anton von Webern-Platz 1 1030 Wien
Tel.:01/711 55-0


Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz
Leonhardstraße 15 8010 Graz


Kunstuniversität Linz / Universität für künstlerische und industrielle Gestaltung in Linz
Hauptplatz 8 4020 Linz
Tel.:0732/78 51 73


Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien
Schillerplatz 3 1010 Wien
Tel.:01/588 16-0


Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
Augasse 2-6 1090 Wien
Tel.:(01) 313 36-0


Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Veterinärplatz 1 1210 Wien
Tel.:(01) 250 77-0


Universität Wien
Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1, 1010 Wien
Tel.:(01) 4277-0


Universität Salzburg
Kapitelgasse 4 5020 Salzburg
Tel.:(0662) 80 44-0


Universität Linz
Altenbergerstraße 69 4040 Linz
Tel.:(07732) 24 68-0


Universität Klagenfurt
Universitätsstraße 67 9020 Klagenfurt
Tel.:(0463) 27 00-0


Universität Innsbruck
Innrain 52 6020 Innsbruck
Tel.:(0512) 507-0


Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Gregor Mendel-Straße 33 1180 Wien
Tel.:(01) 476 54-0


Universität für angewandte Kunst in Wien
Oskar Kokoschka-Platz 2 1010 Wien
Tel.:01/711 33-0


Montanuniversität Leoben
Franz Josef-Straße 33 8700 Leoben
Tel.:(03842) 402-0


Kunstuniversität Linz / Universität für künstlerische und industrielle Gestaltung in Linz
Hauptplatz 8 4020 Linz
Tel.:0732/78 51 73


Federal Ministry of Science and Research
Minoritenplatz 5 1014 Wien

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Date: 2009
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