Norbert Conti has been working at the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD*) since 2016. He knows a lot about the problems and questions from students who wish to study in Austria and still have to provide evidence for the required German language proficiency. To provide prospective students with a better idea of what to expect at university and to answer some questions in advance, he blogs about the University Preparation Programme of the Vienna Universities (VWU).
* The OeAD GmbH is the central service centre for European and international mobility and cooperation programmes in the fields of education, science and research. It manages various mobility programmes and advises students wishing to study abroad.
First things first: Why I would recommend the university preparation programme…
German language and subject-specific courses within the university preparation programme (VWU) provide the best preparation for a degree programme. Their aim is to equip students with good language skills and the necessary subject-specific knowledge when starting their studies. In addition, these courses are cheap compared to other courses when you consider the sum per teaching unit. In contrast to “normal” German courses, this one focuses on everyday life at university (language for specific purposes, etc.).
Admission to the university preparation programme
The university preparation programme is your ideal entry to university if you still do not have a sound knowledge of German (on C1 level). If you would like to study at the University of Vienna and you have a secondary-school leaving certificate or a university degree from a non-EU/EEA country, you need an official letter of admission first. You can submit your application for admission online. You have to meet the deadlines for application submission and consider that it may take some weeks to process your application.
Your official letter of admission specifies if and which supplementary examinations you have to take before you can enrol on the degree programme. In addition to German, there are also supplementary examinations in mathematics, physics, biology, history, geography and English. Depending on your secondary-school qualification and your chosen degree programme, you may have to take these subjects too. An official letter of admission, listing the required supplementary examinations, is your ticket to the university preparation programme. If your secondary-school leaving certificate/university degree is from a non-EU/EEA country, this official letter is essential to register for university preparation programme courses.
Registration for the university preparation programme
You present your official letter of admission, as well as your passport or identity card to a course provider. You pay for the course on site and receive a registration confirmation. The course costs are EUR 1,160 with cooperation partners and EUR 470 with the VWU. You present the registration confirmation, the official letter of admission and your passport/identity card to the Admission Office. There, you are admitted as a non-degree programme student. You can pay the Student’s Union fee (ÖH fee) with debit card (bank card) on site. Then, you can order your student ID card. As soon as you have completed this process, you are University of Vienna student and you can order your student ID card via u:space. 👍
If you require health insurance for students, you can ask for a confirmation during course registration. With this confirmation and a student record sheet (which you can print via u:space after your successful admission), you can apply for the insurance.
Registration periods for the university preparation programme
The registration period always takes place before the semester actually starts. In the winter semester, you can register in the two weeks before 5 September, and in the summer semester, you can register in the two weeks before 5 February. The exact dates are available at the VWU website.
German courses take place at four institutions in total. In addition to the VWU, three cooperation partners offer German courses. Only particular students are allowed to attend VWU courses. Further information is provided in our check list in German or English.
University preparation programme courses
Courses in the winter semester run from early October to end of January (at VWU end of February). Courses in the summer semester run from end of February or early March until end of June. During registration, you also get an appointment for a placement test. The university preparation programme system has five course levels:
- AN – beginners without any knowledge of German
- AV – beginners with little knowledge of German
- EV – students with slightly advanced knowledge of German
- FG – advanced students
- WF – further advanced students
German courses are very intensive courses. They take place on 5 days during the week and last for about 3.5 hours per day. In total, these courses comprise 320 “German” teaching units. Usually, they start at 08:00, 12:00 or 15:30. Each group consists of no more than 24 students.
If you have not only German but also other subjects, you can attend German courses and subject-specific courses in parallel if you are at FG course level or higher. These combined courses always take place at the VWU. Each subject requires two semesters and you may attend no more than two subjects per semester.
Tests and examinations in the university preparation programme
In each semester, there are three intermediate tests and one oral examination. These four examinations serve to determine the course level for the next semester. If you are absent for more than 30% of the time and/or if you did not take the intermediate tests, you can take a more comprehensive written examination at the end of the semester instead of the tests.
If you do not have any previous knowledge, you should take at least three semesters into account until you can take the supplementary examination. Only a few students manage to take the examination within two semesters. Therefore, our recommendation is to start learning German before you come to Austria. This does not only facilitate your start into everyday life but might also reduce your period of study.
The supplementary examination German (EDP) and completion period
If you have passed the advanced course with good test results, then you are fit for the supplementary examination German, the EPD. You register for the examination directly at the VWU. There are seven examination dates per year. The examination fee is EUR 50.
The written part consists of reading comprehension, grammar and writing and takes three hours in total. If you pass this part, you can take the oral examination two weeks later. This examination takes about 10 minutes. Afterwards you receive your results and one week later also your certificate. You present this certificate to the University within the registration period and then you can enrol on the desired degree programme as a degree programme student. You have five attempts for each supplementary examination.
Frequently asked questions about the university preparation programme
You certainly still have some questions. Therefore, you can find my answers to the frequently asked questions here:
- Can I provide other proof of language proficiency instead of completing the university preparation programme?
Yes, you can. However, once you are registered for a university preparation programme course, you also have to take the EPD.
- Can I take the supplementary examination without attending a course?
Yes, you can. However, you need an official letter of admission to register for the examination.
- Which cooperation partner should I choose?
It is up to you. You can talk to your friends or have a look at the providers beforehand. All course providers cover the same material and have a central quality control.
- Can I attend the university preparation programme as an EU citizen?
Yes, you can.
- Can I book an accommodation together with the university preparation programme?
No, you have to seek accommodation on your own.
- I need the registration for my visa. Can I register from my home country?
Unfortunately, you have to register in person. Information about visa and residence permits is available at the OeAD website * The OeAD GmbH is the central service centre for European and international mobility and cooperation programmes in the fields of education, science and research. It manages various mobility programmes and advises students wishing to study abroad.
- Is there a sample for the EPD?
Yes, you can collect it from the VWU secretariat. Detailed information about the examination and the examination topics is also provided at the VWU website.
I hope that this information was useful and that you were able to gain a better insight 😊 Further information about the university preparation programme is available at the OeAD website. More answers to frequently asked questions about university preparation programme courses are available for download. I wish you a successful start to your studies!