First Steps

Before the actual organization of your stay abroad begins, you should definitely clarify the following questions:

  • Where do I want to go anyway? To which country and which university?
  • Is my desired course of study offered there?
  • When do I want to go abroad and for how long? Do I want to incorporate the semester abroad into my studies, or do I want to write the thesis abroad?
  • Are there exchange programs between my home university and the target university (e.g. Erasmus, Joint Study…) or do I have to organize my stay abroad myself?
  • If there is no exchange program: What is the situation at the target university, under which conditions are foreign students accepted (entrance examination, tuition fees, language certificate, etc.)?
  • Are there any contacts between teachers and/or students here or at the target university that might be able to help?
  • What matches are there in the curriculum, what can be credited here
  • How can I finance the stay abroad? Is there a scholarship? Do I have to pay tuition fees?

Opportunities to study abroad for one or two semesters are plentiful and the choices are growing all the time. In order to integrate your semester(s) or year(s) abroad appropriately into your studies, good and, above all, timely planning of the often somewhat lengthy and unfortunately very bureaucratic undertaking is absolutely necessary.

The chance to go to the desired country and study there is in principle given to everyone, but some factors are decisive for whether you will actually get the scholarship or the place for the desired period. The sooner and more extensively you find out about all the possibilities and the earlier you apply for a specific exchange program, the greater the likelihood that everything will go according to plan. In any case, the most essential principle when planning a stay abroad is to start preparing early enough, to obtain all information in time and to pay attention to the financial situation: This is where some problems arise, because more and more students want to spend a semester in another country, while the financial support from the EU and the ministry is still insufficient.

In order to collect the most essential information about studying abroad as well as internships and scientific work abroad, we have published the brochure “Studying Abroad”. You can get the print version at your local student council and at the ÖH Bundesvertretung, you can download it from our homepage but you can also order it directly from us.
However, we are also happy to provide you with personal support and advice on the subject of studying and internships abroad. You can find our contact address and consulting hours on the page of the International Department.
On our homepage you will also find helpful information about the organization of your stay abroad, programs offered as well as Frequently Asked Questions on the topic of studying abroad.

An essential place to go for questions about studying abroad is also the study abroad office at your university, academy, or college. However, since the international offices are usually overloaded, especially at the larger universities, we recommend that you obtain as much information as possible in advance on the Internet or with the help of brochures. For the Erasmus program, there is usually a separate office or coordinators at the individual institutes.

In addition to the ÖH and the international offices, the Austrian Exchange Service (ÖAD) offers a lot of information and brochures on studying abroad and an excellent website. The ÖAD has offices and ERASMUS units in all university cities. The scholarship database of the ÖAD also offers you an overview of all current scholarships as well as information about application requirements, submission deadlines and much more.

But before you go to the international office, the international department of the Austrian Students’ Union (ÖH) or the student representation at your university or academy for advice, it is definitely an advantage to get a rough overview of the different possibilities and to be clear about where you actually want to go.

Once you have a more concrete idea of where you want to go and the program’s requirement criteria (e.g., three creditable semesters), it’s time to find out who is the _ coordinator _ in charge of study abroad at your institution. This _ r has the information about which foreign universities, where your field of study is available, have cooperations with. The advantage of such a program is that a formalized procedure ensures that tuition fees are waived and that credits are awarded. Whereas with a “free mover study” (if there is no cooperation between the university of choice and your university) you have to take care of the exemption from tuition fees and the credit transfer yourself.

Good luck planning and enjoying your semester abroad!


The ideal period of time from initial information to packing your suitcase or backpack is usually one year. Above all, you should consider when you want to go abroad during your studies or when it seems to be the most ideal time for your studies; whether you are just learning a new language or whether you want to go to a certain university in a country that is already largely familiar to you for content-related reasons towards the end of your education. Depending on your motivation and requirements, different programs are available, and you can receive different levels of support. The more concrete your plans and the better endowed the scholarship, the more important it is to have a good application, which goes beyond simply filling out forms and collecting certificates, etc. and requires some preparatory work. In any case, pay attention to the application deadlines of the individual programs, which often end up to half a year before the start of your stay abroad!

Study abroad right in the first semester?

For all those who want to start their studies abroad right after graduating from high school, an important hint: unfortunately, at the moment there are hardly any scholarships or none at all that support this. Even the largest scholarship program in the EU (Erasmus/Socrates) will not support your study stay until you have completed the first section or at least three creditable semesters in Austria.
If you want to start your studies abroad right away, your only option is usually to go abroad individually, i.e. without an exchange program. First of all, you should find out what the admission requirements are for the university you want to study at. In most cases, you will need to prove that you are entitled to a place at a university in Germany. The second step is to check with the respective embassy what the criteria for a residence permit are (only in the case of a non-EU country). The most difficult step is finding financial support. Since neither the EU nor the ministry support studying abroad from the first semester on, you can often only try to get financial support through your home state.

You can find more detailed information about the semester abroad without a corresponding exchange program in the menu item “Free Mover”.

TOEFL test in Austria

With the beginning of the year, Austria has now also made the switch to the Internet-based TOEFL test. Until now, the TOEFL test was only offered computer based or paper based, but due to a lack of dates and test centers, the test could often only be taken in neighboring countries.

According to ETS (as of January 11, 2007), there are currently test centers for the Internet-based test in Austria:

  • Vienna
  • Graz
  • Innsbruck
  • Salzburg
  • Spital/Drava

However, there are no premanent test centers, the locations where the test is offered are constantly changing, new centers are added, others are dropped, as test contracts are usually for 1 year and centers are closed immediately if demand is not right. Some universities of applied sciences (e.g. Johanneum) also offer the test, but only ever on one day.

Registration will continue to be decentralized via the ETS website.

For the registration you need your own account. As soon as you log in to the ETS site with your user data, you will also see which test centers offer the test and on which dates. So: Come in and find out…

Dates in Vienna are offered by the Centre International Universitaire.

Content innovations:

  • The internet-based TOEFL will last 4 hours (previously: computer-based 3.5 hours and paper-based 3 hours)
  • There is a “speaking” part as an additional component.
  • The iBT test is not adaptive. (as opposed to the computer-based test). This means that everyone gets the same questions.
  • Answering one question correctly or incorrectly does not affect the following questions.
  • There is no longer a separate grammar section. (Grammar is also evaluated in the “speaking” and “writing” parts).
  • The scores will be between 0 – 120. (paper-based: 310-677, computer-based: 0-300).

Free Mover Study

Organizing a study abroad individually, i.e. without a mobility program, requires some effort and entails many disadvantages, but is often the only way to get to countries and places that are not offered within an exchange program or to go abroad right after graduating from high school.

Anyone planning to organize a stay abroad on their own should first clarify the following questions:

  • Where do I want to go anyway? To which country and which university?
  • What is the situation at the target university, under which conditions are foreign students accepted (entrance examination, tuition fees, language certificate, etc.)?
  • Are there any contacts between teachers and/or students here or at the target university that might be able to help?
  • What matches are there in the curriculum, what can be credited here?
  • How can I finance the stay abroad?

Where to?

There are several ways to find out about universities and education systems in other countries. A good overview is provided by the German Academic Exchange Service in its country information. However, you can often only find concrete information about the individual universities and their study programs at the respective university itself. Search aids here are, for example, worldwide university databases. The Austrian Exchange Service (ÖAD) has also compiled an extensive list of links to sources of information in the respective countries.

The ÖH sister organizations abroad will also be happy to help you if you have specific questions about study conditions in their country or can refer you to the right source of information. You can find the student representations in Europe on the homepage of the European umbrella organization for student representations ESIB.

Furthermore, you can obtain information from the cultural institutes of the respective countries.

You can also get general country information on a number of countries as part of the global Xperience series of the Jugendinfo.


In order to clarify the question of financing your stay abroad, it is advisable to search the scholarship database of the Austrian Exchange Service (ÖAD) for special scholarships. You can also ask the international office of your university if there is a possibility of funding. In addition, financial assistance is often offered by your home municipality or state.

Another way to get funding for a stay abroad in the desired destination country is also to write the thesis abroad and apply for a corresponding scholarship.

During your stay abroad or even if you finish your studies abroad or complete your entire studies abroad, the family allowance can still be received if the studies are pursued “seriously and purposefully”. There are no precise legal regulations in this regard, so the seriousness and purposefulness is assessed within the framework of free evaluation of evidence in the individual case (by the tax office).
If you transfer from an Austrian university to a foreign university, the entitlement to family allowance continues for a maximum of 4 semesters (for students at teacher training colleges or universities of applied sciences for a maximum of 2 semesters).

If you receive a study grant, you can also apply for an increased grant for studying abroad if you organize your own stay, but you must be eligible for the study grant in your home country. It is important for domestic eligibility that you began your studies at a domestic university. So, if you decide to do your entire studies abroad, you will not receive tuition assistance or the additional study abroad allowance. For more information, please contact the Student Aid Office.

In any case, you should remain enrolled at the Austrian university during your stay abroad and pay the associated tuition fees in case you do not receive a scholarship. If you are not enrolled for one or more semesters, you must re-enroll upon your return and have all courses – including those completed in Austria – credited to your new studies. You may also be able to enroll only in a newer curriculum than your current one (e.g., baccalaureate instead of your current diploma program).

The greater effort should not stop you from trying to independently organize your desired stay abroad – it is certainly worth the effort!

You can find further information in our brochure “Studying Abroad”. You can get the print version at your local student council and at the ÖH Bundesvertretung or you can order it from us. You can find an online version of the brochure in our download area.

We are of course also personally available for advice and support. You can find our contact address and consulting hours on the page of the International Office.