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New ABA services for international students

09. January 2023

Since the beginning of the year, ABA has been targetedly addressing international students at Austrian universities. An OECD comparison shows that Austria is becoming increasingly important as a study location. Most international students also want to stay and work in Austria after their studies are completed, as figures supplied by Statistics Austria prove. Options for remaining in Austria, the facilitation of their integration into the labour market and possibilities to live in Austria should be shown to EU and third country nationals concluding their studies in Austria.

Since the 2021/22 academic year, 105,984 regular international students were enrolled at Austrian universities (from a total of 291,644 students). Regular students are those who are enrolled in a Bachelor, Master or PhD studies as fully-fledged students and who are striving to conclude their studies in Austria. International students refer to people who were not born in Austria, are nationals of an EU or EEA member state or a third country and who are studying at an Austrian university with a Residence Permit - Student.

Why they should stay: international students have the ideal prerequisites

Following their studies at an Austrian university, employers are aware of what they can expect from this diploma. No certification or recognition of their credentials is necessary. Studying in Austria not only makes it possible for many international students to get to know Austrian culture and traditions but also to build up a network or circle of friends who can assist them when they enter the job market. Many faculties also allow them to do internships or gain work experience during their studies. In this way they will gain insights into economic life and the corporate culture in Austria. Many companies also facilitate the acceptance of international students and a separate Red-White-Red - Card for Graduates of Austrian Universities ensures quicker access to the labour market. All this comprises ideal prerequisites, both professionally and privately, for these students to settle down in Austria.1

ABA services for international students

The objective pursued by ABA is to support international students to enter the Austrian labour market after they conclude their studies by offering the following services:

International students can search for jobs in their area of specialisation on our job portal, many of which are advertised in English, and then directly link up with Austrian companies:

Our Immigration and Residence Services individually consult people on obtaining a work permit, a residence permit and on entering the job market. Our Immigration Guide also provides further information on what the necessary steps are in order to live and work in Austria:

Comprehensive information on the topic of living in Austria, the healthcare system, housing in Austria, insurance and labour laws is available on our website and in our Personal Guide and can be downloaded free of charge:

Students from EU and EEA member states (Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland) have free access to the labour market due to their being EU/EEA nationals. ABA advises on getting a registration certificate and provides initial information on living in Austria and the immigration of family members.

The Austrian Aliens Employment Act and also the Austrian Settlement and Residence Act, which has been in effect since October 2022, have facilitated the process of obtaining the Red-White-Red - Card for Graduates of Austrian Universities. This targets all international students who have concluded studies in Austria and have a job commitment from an Austrian employer in line with their respective degrees. The prerequisite of receiving a minimum salary for a full-time position no longer applies as of 1 October 2022. Remuneration must be in accordance with collective agreements or be higher than normal company salaries.

High comparative share of international students in Austria

In many countries it has been clearly shown that this group of academically highly qualified key employees provides considerable value added for the respective labour markets. The OECD International Migration Outlook 2022 focuses on the immigration of international students in an international comparison. In this regard, it is obvious that international students mainly choose to study science and MINT subjects at universities in most European cities. The 18% share of international students in Austria in relation to the number of inhabitants is very high in international comparison2. Austria and Switzerland (also 18%) show a higher proportion than Germany (11%). According to OECD calculations, only 6% of the student permits in Austria in 2019 were converted into work permits (in relation to the total number of work permits)3. There is an enormous potential here to targetedly address this group of international university graduates in Austria and facilitate their entry into the Austrian labour market.

Positive development: decline in the number of university graduates leaving the country

In the 2021/22 academic year, a total of 17,687 students from abroad graduated from Austrian universities (figures provided by Statistics Austria).  

81,580 regular international students were enrolled in public universities in Austria in the 2021/22 academic year. The largest number, namely 25,966, were studying at the University of Vienna, followed by the University of Innsbruck (13,132) and the Vienna University of Technology (8,064). Besides Germany, the most frequent countries of origin of the students were Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Turkey and Iran. The most popular fields of study are economics, social sciences and health, followed by natural sciences (particularly psychology and biology). 10,635 international students graduated from a public university in the 2021/22 academic year. In comparison, 8,317 regular international students were enrolled at private Austrian universities, of whom 1,272 graduated in 2021/22. The private universities with the most international students are the Central European University, Danube Private University and Sigmund Freud University. Germany, Italy, Slovenia, USA, China and North Macedonia are the top countries of origin of these students. 11,955 regular international students were enrolled at Austrian universities of applied sciences in the 2021/22 academic year. The most popular subjects at these universities are economics, technical sciences, engineering and health. Most of the students at Austria’s universities of applied sciences come from Germany, Italy, Hungary, Iran, Serbia, India and Syria. 2,876 international students graduated from these institutions in 2020/21, the largest number at the Management Center Innsbruck, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien and the University of Applied Sciences Campus Vienna.

Statistics Austria published a study in 2021 on the number of university graduates leaving the country or entering the job market. The basis for the study was an observation period of ten years (2008/09 academic year including Q3 2020), taking the number of international students immigrating or emigrating from Austria following completion of their studies at public universities in Austria5. It shows that since 2008/09, the number of international students leaving the country after graduation has been continuously declining. In particular, Masters and PhD students have been increasingly remaining in Austria permanently since 2014/15. German nationals (comprising the largest group of international students in Austria), the migration rate in the first year after concluding their master’s degree programmes has been about 50% for the last ten years. In comparison, the percentage of third country students leaving Austria in the first year after receiving their master’s degree has fallen from 69.3% in 2009/19 to 43.8% in 2020. When earning a PhD, Austrian as well as EU and third country nationals showed the lowest rate of migration. This is another good reason highlighting the effects of introducing the Red-White-Red - Card for Graduates of Austrian Universities.

The migration rate for international university graduates of computer sciences and communication technology study programmes has also decreased. Following graduation in 2008/09, 50.6% of third country nationals receiving their computer sciences and communication technology degrees in Austria left the country after graduation. In contrast, this figure dropped to 27.3% in 2018/19.  This decline is also perceptible in the fields of engineering, manufacturing industry and construction, where 73.2% of third country nationals had already left the country within three years after graduation in 2008/09, compared to only 29.0% in the first year following completion of their studies in 2018/19.

Labour market status was also monitored within the context of the study. In general, unemployment of these students 18 months after graduation was below 4% across all fields of study.  

In light of the increasing number of international students in Austria who also want to enter the Austrian job market, Key Account International Students at ABA WORK in AUSTRIA is not only available to answer the questions of these international students but also supports Austrian universities on all issues relating to their entry into the Austrian labour market. Do not hesitate to contact:

Angelika Köpf, PGC. M.A. M.A.
Key Account International Students

1 References: Link
2 Comparison of the Statistical Yearbook Migration & Integration of Statistics Austria shows that 88% of international students at public universities in Austria and 84% at universities of applied sciences are from EU member states.
3 29% of student permits in Germany in 2019 were converted into work permits (in relation to number of work permits (OECD Secretariat, calculations by Liebig).
4 Graduates per year from 1 October in a given year to 30 September of the following year.
5 Universities of applied sciences, private universities and universities of teacher education are not included in this study.


  • OECD (2022): International Migration Outlook 2022, 46th Edition, OECD Publishing, Paris:
  • OECD 2022: International Migration Database 2022, OECD statistics:
  • Liebig, Thomas (2022): OECD Internationaler Migrationsausblick 2022, Präsentation, Paris
  • Jurenich/Mandl/Radinger/Trenkwalder (2021): Wezüge und Berufseinstieg von Universitätsabsolventinnen und -absolventen 2021, Bundesanstalt Statistik Österreich, Wien
  • Statistik Austria (2021): Statistisches Jahrbuch zu Migration & Integration: file:///C:/Users/ak/Downloads/stat_jahrbuch_migration_u_integration_2021%20(3).pdf

Further reading:

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