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Country Guide Austria

CARe country guides, developed from May to October 2020, contain systematised relevant information on the national labour markets in the 10 project countries, with the aim of supporting researchers at risk/with refugee background in finding support, job and training opportunities in their host countries. 

In the development and revision of the country guides, the CARe consortium is receiving invaluable help by the selected group of national experts coming from relevant national institutions and CARe focus groups.




Higher education in Austria takes place in public and private universities, „Fachhochschulen“ (colleges) and Akademien.

Most universities are public institutions funded by the state. They are fully autonomous in handling their internal affairs and formulating their statutes. The 2002 Universities Act introduced the so-called 'full legal capacity' and substituted the budget law of the federal authorities with elements of commercial law, putting the premises for the creation of 'university enterprises' which are in a position to access new funding sources in addition to the federal budget.

The accreditations are issued by the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation and the highest state institution for higher education is the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.


Higher education institutions in Austria by type:

For more information please visit Study in Austria.


Career progression

The academic career path in Austria has four levels:

  • PhD Candidate - they can also hold a pre-doc assistant position at university
  • Universitätsassistent (B1) - equivalent to a non-tenured assistant
  • Assistenzprofessor/assoziierter Professor (A2) - equivalent to an assistant/associate Professor, for which a qualification (Qualifizierunsvereinbarung) granted by the university is needed
  • Universitätsprofessor (A1) - equivalent to a tenured Full Professor

There are other, non-tenured positions at Austrian universities:

  • Lektor (B2) - equivalent to part-time Lecturers, who can have temporary or permanent employment
  • Projektmitarbeiter (B1) - these are project assistants hired for the length of the research project usually financed by third parties
  • Senior Lecturers (B1) - similar requirements as an Assistant, but with teaching functions only
  • Senior Scientists/Artists (B1) - similar requirements as an Assistant, but with different functions (such as working on a project funded by a third party)

As the career in Austrian higher education is not a tenure track, there is no guarantee of automatically becoming a professor since the number of available professorships is rather limited. Once nominated full professor, he or she has to undergo an assessment after three to six years. Habilitation still exists, but is not a mandatory requirement to become a professor. Contracts at private universities are not standard like in public universities and evaluation is necessary for career advancement.

Openness to non-nationals: Positions are advertised internationally, but language could be a barrier to access. In some fields English is increasingly used in teaching and research, especially in economics. German is usually not required at the time of application, however, the university expects academic, teaching-level proficiency in a limited amount of time.

For more information please visit European University Institute.


Proposals by researchers from the CARe Focus Group Austria - What is needed?

  • Easy access to integration courses covering language training (including both everyday and professional language), job orientation and targeted support for vocational training such as preparatory traineeships, assisted training and training grants.
  • Long-term (minimum two years) visitor scholar programmes for researchers with refugee background to rebuild their knowledge, recover the gaps in their CVs, and increase their professional networks.
  • Providing support to the universities, institutes and private companies in order to employ refugee scientists for at least a year through targeted financial support
  • Ensure funding for attending conferences for scholars and supporting researchers to do specialised courses which increase their chances of employment.
  • Ensure access to the academic career services, library and e-journals for researchers without affiliation.


Full reports on the CARe Focus Groups and Employer Survey are available here.

To raise factual inaccuracies or to provide us with updated information and feedback on the guide, please do not hesitate to contact us at