Austria’s first nine years of education are both mandatory and free. These include four years of elementary school (Volksschule), followed by either vocational preparatory schools, a slightly higher ‘Gymnasium’ school or, for the more gifted student, a higher learning institute after which follows university.
Vocational schooling typically ends after 8 years, whilst Gymnasium can go on up to 12 years. Graduates of these schools receive the ‘Matura’, the university admissions certificate, after their final exam and may follow their education with a trade school which may also end with a specialized version of the Matura for specific courses.
Private schooling at a primary and secondary level is also available and see a large influence by the Roman Catholic Church, by which around 10% of all private schools in Austria are run. Catholic Schools are known for being more disciplined than other schools and many are considered to be elite institutions. At a higher education level, the state practically runs a monopoly on universities, but private universities have been being set up more frequently in recent years.