As of June 2017, there is no overall and coherent framework for the validation of prior learning (VPL) in Austria. For this reason, a national strategy is currently being developed in Austria. Its roots can be found in the recommendation of the European Council of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning.
Furthermore, the Austrian strategy for validation is closely connected to:
- the development and implementation of the Austrian Qualifications Framework
- and the Austrian LifeLongLearning Strategy (LLL:2020).
A useful guideline for Austrian HE institutions is the recommendations for the validation of non-formal and informal acquired competences in Austria. The Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria, responsible for quality assurance in Higher Education, issued these recommendations in December 2016. Read more about the current developments in Austria here.
VPL in Higher Education
Validation of formal learning
A foreign formal qualification can be validated through so-called “Nostrifizierung”. In short, it leads to the full recognition of a foreign higher education (HE) qualification by an Austrian HE institution. In case the validation applicant lost the official documents of the foreign HE qualification, a different validation procedure is necessary. There is a contact point, available for further questions.
Validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNIL)
Validation of informal and non-formal learning (VNIL) is not yet common in Austrian Higher Education. At the moment, VNIL in Austria cannot lead to a complete award of a higher education qualification. Still, it is possible to obtain admission to some Austrian HE institutions or to receive credits for prior learning within study programmes. Here you can find examples of VNIL initiatives in Austria:
- Studienberechtigungsprüfung (SBP): Limited Higher Education Entrance Examination
- Berufsreifeprüfung (BRP): The General Higher Education Entrance Examination is for people who went through apprenticeship training or vocational education schools but did not take an examination entitling them to study at higher education level.
- Admission without Reifeprüfung/Matura, SBP or BRP: Under certain conditions, HE institutions admit applicants who have not taken the Reifeprüfung/Matura or any other exam mentioned above. As an example, Danube University Krems offers admission for study programmes based on VNIL.
Validation in the Labour Market
There are several validation arrangements closely connected with the labour market, but only a few of these validation procedures have a legal basis and therefore result in formal qualification. In other words, many of them aim at obtaining non-formal qualification. Here we again have some examples for you:
- The Austrian Public Employment Service Vienna offers “competence checks” for asylum seekers. These checks include the validation informal learning (outside school or university, e.g. work experience).
- In some federal states there are institutions which validate prior learning. For example, in Burgenland, the Volkshochschule (VHS) is certified to validate prior learning.
- When it comes to recognition of formal vocational education, the platform berufsanerkennung.at gives guidance and shows success-stories of people, who went through validation procedures.
- If a validation candidate has a foreign formal vocational qualification but lost the documents, following contact point gives advice: http://www.berufsanerkennung.at/en/advice/
Validation in the third sector
First pilot projects in the third sector were conducted in 2012. Back then, the project team examined how acquired skills in volunteering (volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services) could be integrated within a future national qualifications framework. Now, as the Austrian Qualifications Framework has been installed, non-formal learning in the volunteer sector is matched to qualifications levels. The process started in March 2016 and is ongoing.
Funding of VPL
The Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF) provides support and funding for formal recognition:
- Costs of issuing letters of recognition
- Administrative fees
- Translation costs
- Fees of assessment
Read more about funding options and help regarding validation procedures here! Also the “AST – Beratungszentrum für Migranten und Migrantinnen
Perspektive – Anerkennungs- und Weiterbildungsberatungsstelle für NeuzuwanderInnen und Asylberechtigte” provides information and counselling regarding funding of recognition of foreign qualifications. Funding regulations are different in each federal state of Austria, the AST provides an overview and suggestions to reform the system in German language.
- Country Report Austria: 2016 update to the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning. https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_validate_AT.pdf
- Volkshochsschule Burgenland: http://www.vhs-burgenland.at/home/Kompetenzanerkennung.html
- AST, Weiterbildungsförderungen der Bundesländer: https://media.anlaufstelle-anerkennung.at/Weiterbildungsf%C3%B6rderungen_Bundesl%C3%A4nder_August2018.pdf