A pricy issue that nobody wants to deal with – and a big topic for all students before the new semester starts: tuition fees. When I first started studying in Austria, I wanted to look into the complex topic of study fees and many questions came into mind: Do students even have to pay tuition fees in Austria? If so, how much do they have to pay per semester? What’s the difference between tuition fees and the ÖH-fees, the Austrian Student’s Union membership fee? What do incoming students have to pay if they want to study in Austria? I took a deep dive and proudly present to you everything I found out about tuition fees in Austri

What are tuition fees?

Let’s start at the beginning. Tuition fees are those payments, which allow students to study at a certain institution of higher education. The amount varies depending on the country in which you live and study and the individual institution.

Financing your studies can be tricky at times and many students have to work a student job next to their studies to come by. In the US, more than half of all students work – that’s not surprising considering that tuition fees in the US are the highest worldwide. It is also very common to work a student job in Austria, with almost half of all students being employed as well. But are the tuition fees as high as in the US?

Fees for studying in Austria

The tuition fees in Austria are actually relatively affordable compared to those in other countries. There are two separate payments, which we have to distinguish. On the one hand, there are the tuition fees and on the other the ÖH-fees for the Austrian Student’s Union membership. Which of those two payments is higher and how do I know, whether I have to pay them?

Student fleißig am lernen

Tuition fees

In general, all students who study in Austria are obliged to pay tuition fees, amounting to € 363,36 per semester. However, students of regular study programmes only have to pay them once they have exceeded the standard period of study and the tolerated additional semesters. Sounds complicated? I’ll give you an example: If I study psychology in the bachelor’s programme, I have six semesters to finish my bacherlor’s within the standard period of study. I am allowed to take two additional semesters, so eight in total, without paying tuition fees. The same principle applies to master’s and PhD programmes – the standard periods of study may vary.

If you are enrolled for more than one programme, the tuition fees are due as soon as you’ve exceeded the allowed number of semesters in one of your studies. Concerning teacher’s programmes with subjects that differ in the standard period of study, the subject with the longer standard period is the deciding factor in paying or not paying tuition fees.  

Non-degree programme students
Non-degree programme students, so called “außerordentliche Studierende”, are students who are only admitted to individual lectures and courses, without being enrolled for a study programme. These students have to pay tuition fees from their first semester onward.

Students at Universities of Applied Sciences
In Austria, students at 17 out of 20 Universities of Applied Sciences are charged tuition fees. Only a few UAS have decided against tuition fees, amounting to roughly 37 % of UAS students who don’t have to make the payments.

Students at private universities
Because private universities follow the private law, they may decide individually whether they want to charge tuition fees or not and how much they want to charge. These regulations are then fixed in a written tuition contract, which students have to sign at the beginning of their studies.

Caution: Everyone, who has to pay tuition fees in Austria, should be aware of the respective deadlines. If you don’t pay in time, the amount might be increased by 10 % or you might even be exmatriculated.

The ÖH-fee for the Austrian Student’s Union membership

The ÖH-fee covers your membership at the Austrian Student’s Union, the so called “Österreichische Hochschüler_innenschaft, ÖH”. Their services include the independent representation of all Austrian students. An accident and a liability insurance are also covered, providing security for Austrian students.

Caution: Each semester, there is also a deadline for paying the ÖH-fee. In case you happen to miss it, you’ll have to pay a slightly higher amount within the grace period. If you miss this deadline as well, you might be exmatriculated.

Sparschwein für die Studiengebühren

Which fees do I have to pay at my institution of higher education?

You’ll find detailed information on the fees you have to pay at your university, UAS or other institution of higher education on their official websites, including all relevant deadlines.

Do incoming students have to pay tuition fees in Austria?

Third-country nationals have to pay double the amount of tuition fees in Austria. The ÖH-fee is added to those 726,72 € per semester. Other third-countries besides Switzerland are those which aren’t members of the EU or the EEA.

In some cases, the tuition fees of incoming students are paid back. Simply contact the Austrian Student’s Union, ÖH, or the responsible department at your university for further information.

Reasons for being exempted from tuition fees in Austria:

  • impairments
  • illness
  • pregnancy
  • childcare
  • certain positions at the ÖH
  • and more

If you want to get your tuition fees back, you’ll have to provide proof and keep an eye on the different deadlines. Which kind of proof you’ll have to provide depends on the reason for your exemption. Concerning pregnancy or illness for example, the pregnant or ill person has to prove that they weren’t able to follow the course of their studies normally for at least two months.

Phew, that was a lot. In case you haven’t had enough and desperately want to learn more, we recommend our blog post about our tips on studying abroad in Austria. We are sure that you are well informed by now and will never miss a deadline again! 😉

PS: If you are looking for a comfortable, affordable, and uncomplicated place to stay during your studies, check out our home4students student dormitories across Austria and find the perfect home in one of Austria’s student cities.