Adult Education and Training

Large number of educational institutions and wide educational spectrum

Adult education and training in Austria covers a large number of educational institutions with different objectives and educational programs. The educational spectrum ranges from general education, basic education, and the acquisition of qualifications in “second-chance education”, vocational education and training (VET) programs, on to management courses and personal development programs, to higher education and university-based programs. 

Objectives and priorities

The main objective of adult education and training is to enhance access to lifelong learning and education measures for everyone. Essential for participation and further education success is the development and implementation of programs appropriate to adults and the target group as well as high-quality educational counselling and career guidance.

Adult education and training contributes to creating equal opportunities, reducing educational disadvantages and, overall, to social development.

Therefore it focuses on the following priority areas:

  • offering possibilities of lifelong learning, with particular focus on disadvantaged groups (for example programs for women and development projects related to migration),
  • enhancing access to adult education for everyone,
  • improving the permeability of the education system, from basic education through to tertiary education,
  • improving the quality and professionalization of adult education and training,
  • safeguarding the basic structures of adult education and training.  

Organizational structure

At the federal level, general adult education is within the sphere of competence of the Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs (BMBF), but other ministries are also responsible for specific agendas of adult education and training. At the level of associations, first and foremost the Austrian Conference of Adult Education Institutions (KEBÖ) needs to be mentioned, which comprises the ten largest continuing education and training (CET) associations. University-based and tertiary research institutions are another category. Finally, a large number of NGOs and registered societies are active in non-profit and commercial adult education. 

The Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB), a service provided by the BMBF, sees itself as a competence centre for professionalization, quality development and expert discourse. BIFEB is an innovative partner in national and international networks and projects and, at the same time, a seminar centre for all actors in adult education and training.  

Funding of adult education

The BMBF supports associations and institutions of adult education and training. The prerequisites and criteria for awarding funds are laid down in the Federal Financing Act on the Funding of Adult Education and Public Libraries from Federal Funds (or 1973 Adult Education Funding Act for short).

The European Social Fund (ESF) is a structural fund of the European Union. On behalf of the adult education and training sector, it provides funds for projects aiming at the sustainable integration of disadvantaged adults into society, education and the labour market, the reduction of barriers and the creation of equal opportunities, as well as professionalization and quality development. Support from ESF funds is co-financed with national funds. 

A comprehensive overview of adult education and training in Austria as well as educational offers can be found at the website

Austrian State Prize for Adult Education

Since 2008 the Education Ministry has awarded the Austrian State Prize for Adult Education, which was conceived in 1956, in a new form: The State Prize is now conferred in up to four categories (“Adult educator”, “Innovation”, “Thematic focus” and “Science and research”). The decision for the respective prize winners and winning projects is made by an independent jury of experts on adult learning with the involvement of the public, the prizes are awarded in a ceremony by the Federal Minister.

Due to changing thematic priorities, the distinction of good practice, the openness for innovation and the bigger picture as well as the high level of awareness and importance, the State Prize for Adult Education fulfils an important function in the entire adult learning and education community. 

Information and support on CET for the interested public/ a platform for all actors in adult education / the portal currently comprises five sections with thousands of sub-pages and thematic databases/ in 2015 more than a million visitors were counted, some 220 news items and 180 dates of events have been published/ around 3,200 people have subscribed to the newsletter, which comes out at least every two weeks. 

a nationwide, provider-independent specialist online medium for research, practice and discourse on adult learning/ launched 2007 in cooperation with BIFEB/ a modern, open-access publication published three times a year/ free download/ more than 500.000 downloads of articles and complete issues within 9 years (2007-2015). 

Materials on adult education:
Series of academically founded works and specific studies related to adult education / since 2006 in a new layout/ free download / order of prints free of charge (except postage and shipping)

Support for basic education and the acquisition of qualifications by adults/ enables adults who lack basic skills and/or have not acquired a compulsory school qualification to resume and complete compulsory schooling free of charge.

competence centre for professionalization, quality development and expert discourse/ innovative partner in national and international networks and projects/ seminar centre for all actors in adult education and training.  

The Austrian Academy of Continuing Education (WBA)/ Examination and Recognition of competences of adult educators based on predefined standards/ certificate and diploma / contribution to the professionalization and quality development of adult education. 

The quality framework for the adult education sector in Austria/ a nationwide scheme to recognize quality-assuring measures of adult education providers in Austria.

Second-chance education
Higher Education Entrance Examination (Berufsreifeprüfung)
Limited Higher Education Entrance Qualification (Studienberechtigungsprüfung)

The Berufsreifeprüfung provides holders with unrestricted access to studies at Universities, Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen), University Colleges for Teacher Training, postsecondary VET colleges and courses and requires candidates to have an initial VET qualification. The standardized matriculation and diploma examination will apply from April 2016.

The Studienberechtigungsprüfung provides access to the education and training pathway for which it was taken specifically. Therefore, holders of this certificate are restricted in the extent to which they can change the study programme they have selected.

Preparatory courses for candidates of the Berufsreifeprüfung and Studienberechtigungsprüfung are mainly offered at adult education institutions.   

Geändert am: 06.04.2018

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