We explain how international schools in Austria are run, their curricula, how much they cost, and how to choose the right one for your child.
As an expat, international schools in Austria provide a good choice for education. Furthermore, they offer many advantages over local state schools. They provide a very holistic education while offering global qualifications and a unique experience. In fact, most offer the rigorous but widely-accepted International Baccalaureate (IB) program in the final two years of school. In this helpful guide, we break down the ins and outs of choosing an international school in Austria, including the following:
- The Austrian education system
- International schools in Austria
- Types of international schools in Austria
- Should you send your child to an international school in Austria?
- How to choose an international school in Austria
- Financial aid and scholarships for international schools in Austria
- Useful resources
The Austrian education system
In Austria, education has both a public and private sector. Therefore, there are state-run and private schools. Public education is the purview of local governments and the Ministry of Education. Conversely, private schools usually operate independently. As such, the sector includes international schools, most of which are privately owned. Additionally, while education in Austria is largely free, private and international schools come with hefty fees.
International schools in Austria
Despite being very expensive, international schools are a popular choice for expats in Austria. This is because they offer high-quality, holistic education. As such, Austria has numerous international schools, most of which are located in the capital, Vienna. Additionally, 16 of these are IB World schools that offer the International Baccalaureate diploma.
International schools differ from others in several ways. Firstly, you have to pay to attend them, whereas local Austrian schools are free. Secondly, they offer a very global education that you would not find at a regular school. Thirdly, international schools usually offer a full education from kindergarten through to 12th grade. Conversely, public schools often have different institutions for primary and secondary education.
Types of international schools in Austria
There are many types of international schools in Austria. In addition, these schools offer different styles of education and qualifications. Therefore, the exact curriculum of each school can be different. Nevertheless, all of the international schools in Austria are very similar in that they provide a holistic, high-level education in a multi-cultural environment. Most are also co-educational. In addition, most international schools in Austria offer bilingual programs or secondary languages.
While public schools in Austria are free, international schools can be very expensive. In general, day schools cost €5,000 per year. However, this can reach up to €40,000. Furthermore, boarding schools can cost up to €60,000 each year.
In general, exams are taken in the last few years of school. For example, in American schools, students will take PSATs and SATs. Similarly, students at French-style lycées will sometimes take the Baccalaureate. However, almost all international schools in Austria offer the International Baccalaureate. In any case, students who graduate from these schools usually go on to pursue Bachelor’s degrees at some of the top universities in Europe, the US, and Australia.
International Baccalaureate in Austria
The International Baccalaureate diploma program is very popular in Austria. In fact, almost all international schools in the country offer this system. This is because the degree is widely recognized and accepted throughout the world. In addition, it allows entry to the most prestigious universities in the world.
American international schools and Advanced Placement
Many international schools in Austria also follow the American education system. This includes the American International School of Vienna and American International School-Salzburg. As such, these schools use English as the main language of instruction. That said, they also offer language study in German, French, and Spanish.
Younger students at the American-style schools take MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests from grades three to nine. However, these tests are quite general and assess reading, language use, and maths. In high school, students can also take the PSAT and SAT exams if they want to. Although AP (Advanced Placement) classes are popular in the US, they are not widely available in Austria. Instead, many students graduate with the standard American High School Diploma of the full International Baccalaureate diploma.
French International Schools
The main French school in Austria is the Lycée Français Wien in Vienna. Because it follows the French curriculum and offers the French Bac (Baccalaureate) on graduation, it is popular with students who want to pursue higher education in France.
Austria has a long religious history and as such, there are numerous international schools in Austria with religious affiliations. One of these is the International Christian School of Vienna. Many of these schools follow the American curriculum and offer the International Baccalaureate diploma. However, in these religious schools, students also have to undertake bible study and mission trips.
Most students who go to international schools in Vienna go on to study at colleges and universities around the world. Despite this, the US and the UK remain the top choices for higher education. In fact, because most students gain an International Baccalaureate diploma on graduation, they have an advantage in gaining admission to these universities. Many international schools also offer counselors to help students prepare for and apply to universities.
Should you send your child to an international school in Austria?
Education can be a very personal choice for parents. This is especially true when it comes to international schools in Austria. These schools offer many advantages and drawbacks, all of which you need to carefully consider.
Perhaps the best thing about international schools in Austria is that they offer a very international environment. As such, students have access to a wide range of cultural influences and languages and there is a lot of opportunity for growth. Similarly, these schools also offer a very inclusive curriculum. In fact, alongside traditional subjects such as science, math, and history, students may pursue interests in arts, drama, and music.
This is because international schools encourage holistic development. In addition, students receive international-standard qualifications and can go on to universities in nearly any country. Of course, excellent academics are a standard offering, as are better facilities and smaller class sizes.
Like anything else, international schools in Austria come with some disadvantages, too. The main one is, of course, that they can be prohibitively expensive. The schools themselves can also be in hard-to-access locations. In addition, going to an international school means that students have fewer chances for local integration.
How to choose an international school in Austria
Even if you decide to send your child to an international school in Austria, you have to find the right one for your needs. Many things go into picking this type of school.
As such, here are a few things to think about:
- Cost: Can you afford a more expensive school, or should you choose a cheaper option?
- Curriculum: Do you want your child to follow the French or American system or something else entirely?
- Qualifications: What degree do students receive at the end? Do you want your child to take the SAT or graduate with the International Baccalaureate diploma?
- Language abilities: Can your child speak English, French, or the main language of instruction in a particular school?
- Location: Is the school an easy commute, or will your child have to travel or board?
- Extra-curricular activities: Does the school offer the languages, activities, and sports your child wants to pursue?
Financial aid and scholarships for international schools in Austria
In general, international schools in Austria don’t offer help with fees. As such, you should not expect to find any type of financial aid or scholarship programs at these schools. However, some schools may offer discounts if you have several children attending. Similarly, others may offer payment plans. Additionally, some expats can negotiate for their company to pay for their children’s education at international schools.
- City of Vienna – a government page about international schools in Vienna
- American International School of Vienna – school website
- Vienna International School – school website
- International Christian School of Vienna – school website
- Lycée Français de Vienne – school website
- Good Schools Guide – a UK-based guide to schools in Vienna