When I came to Graz for the first time it was to join university as an Erasmus exchange student. I loved my experience here so much that I decided to come back and do my Masters here.
Coming from an Italian university, where you mostly sit in lectures with hundreds of people, I was amazed at the system here. Above all I loved attending seminars and learning about topics in a deeper way. I also loved that university was more relaxed and informal than in Udine. For the most part, professors treated you as equals and adults, and not school children. (Although there were always some exceptions).
One of the reasons why Graz is a great city is the student life, as a result going to university in Graz was one of the best decisions of my life. I wanted to share with you information on what the system is like here and which universities Graz has to offer, hence enthicing you to come study here.
If you have any questions or want to know more, just drop a comment below or pop me an email.
Can you study in Graz if you do not know German?
This question cannot be answered simply, because it depends. If you are a degree-seeking student (so not an exchange student) you need to have proof of knowledge of German at C1 level. Most courses are taught in German, so you need to be able to follow and understand the lessons.
At the Technische Universität, however, there are some Master’s Degrees taught completely in English.
It might be worth asking at the Faculty of Anglistics at the Karl-Franzens Universität if German is compulsory (as far as I know, all courses are taught in English there).
At the Kunst Uni you only need A1/A2 level of German when applying, but you have to show proof of German at a higher level by the 3rd semester of studies.
As an exchange student you usually have more flexibility as to what type of classes to take, so you could choose for yourself classes in English or your mothertongue (from language institutes). But I think that some home universities require you to have a certain language level before you can apply for an exchange semester somewhere.
The university system in Austria
Universität and Fachhochschule
There are two types of universities in Austria, the Universität and the Fachhochschule (FH). What makes them different is mainly the teaching style. Universität is mostly theoretic, whilst Fachhochschule is more applied. As a result, the Fachhochschule prepares you for the working/business world, whilst Universität is there to prepare you for academic life. Furthermore, while at Universität not all classes have compulsory attendance and you can select which ones to attend, the Fachhochschule has a set schedule and you have to attend every class.
Another essential difference is the numerus clausus (limited availability of places) at the Fachhochschule. Each degree course may only accept between 30 and 50 people per school year. Some degree courses at Universität have also an entry examination, to limit the number of students accessing the most popular course. This includes Psychology, Medicine and I think even English or Teaching studies.
All state universities in Austria are free of charge for Austrian, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens. However, you need to pay around € 18 per semester for the ÖH (the Austrian National Union of Student Body Representatives). If you exceed the planned number of semesters for a degree by two semesters (Bachelors’ degree – 8 semesters/4 years; Masters’ degree 6 semesters/3 years), you have to pay a fee of € 363,36 per semester. (Stand: January 2019).
In Graz, the “free” universities are the Karl-Franzens University, the Technical University, the Medical University, the Kunst Uni and the FH Joanneum.
Types of classes
There are 5 different types of classes: Vorlesungen (VO), Übungen (UE), Proseminar (PS), Seminar (SE) and Vorlesung mit Übung (VOUE).
VO is a lecture-type class, taking usually place in big rooms and where attendance is not compulsory. There is a general exam at the end of the semester and you can take it even without having attended one class.
ÜE, PS, SE and VOUE have usually a limited number of places and you have to do assignments and small examinations throughout the semester to get your grade. Furthermore, for seminars you usually have to hand in a scientific paper at the end of the semester.
Finding student accommodation
Many students coming to Graz for university prefer living in WGs (shared flats) with their friends. However, I recommend applying for a room in a student dorm, if you are new to Graz and don’t know anyone.
Student dorms are in every part of the city, and here are some important links if you want to apply for a room:
Which universities there are in Graz
There are 7 universities in Graz, Karl-Franzens Universität (KF), Technische Universität (TU), Medizinische Universität, Kunst Uni, the Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark, FH Joanneum, FH Campus 02. Each university has its own specialisation.
The Karl-Franzens Universität is the biggest and oldest university in Graz, founded in 1585. Around 30.000 Students register each year, 15% are foreigners. The university is made up of 6 faculties:
- Catholic theology
- Business, Economics and Social Sciences
- Arts and Humanities
- Natural Sciences
- Environmental and Regional Sciences and Education
There is one main library at the university, which is currently under renovation until summer 2019. Likewise, there are faculty-specific libraries too. Here you can find the opening times and a map of their locations.
Here is the link to the international relations office website at KFU.
The TU Graz is the university which dedicates itself to scientific, technological and engineering degrees, consequently here is a list of the degree courses on offer:
- Biomedical Engineering
- Chemical and Process Engineering
- Civil Engineering and Construction Management
- Computer Science
- Electrical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering and Audio Engineering
- Environmental Systems Sciences / Natural Sciences-Technology*
- Information and Computer Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering and Business Economics
- Molecular Biology*
- Software Development and Business Management
Some degree courses overlap with other degrees from the KFU.
Here is the link to the website of the TU.
The medical university of Graz offers three degree programs:
A brand-new university building has been inaugurated in 2017 for the Medical University, placed just next to the main hospital of Graz.
Here is the link to the website of the Med Uni.
The Kunst Uni is the Graz university dedicated to degree courses in musical and dramatic arts. All degree courses have entry exams.
- Composition, Theory of Music, History of Music, and Conducting
- Wind and Percussion Instruments
- Music Education
- Church Music and Organ
- Voice, Lied and Oratorio
- Stage Design
- Aesthetics of Music
- Early Music and Performance Practice
- Jazz Research
- Electronic Music and Acoustics
The Kunst Uni is located in Graz between the KFU and the TU in a marvellous modern building in Leonhardstraße.
Here is the link to the website of the Kunst Uni.
Pädagogische Hochschule Steiermark
The fields of study on offer at this Graz university of teaching are teacher education at primary level (ages 6 to 10), at secondary level (ages 10 to 18) and for vocational schools.
This institute is just north of the Schloßberg in the Geidorf neighbourhood.
Here is the link to their website.
The University of Applied Sciences offers degree courses in the following departments:
- Applied Computer Science
- Building, Energy & Society
- Health Studies
- Media & Design
The FH Joanneum is located close to the main train station and is one of the most modern higher education institutes in Graz. Furthermore, there is also a campus in the nearby city of Kapfenberg.
As mentioned before, the FH Joanneum is a university institute with compulsory attendance and fixed class schedule going from Monday to Friday. There is a limited number of places for every year, so you need to apply and pass an exam to get in.
Here is the link to their website.
FH Campus 02
This is the second University of Applied Science and offers degree courses in:
- Automation Technology
- Innovation Management
- Information Technologies & Business Informatics
- Financial Accounting & Managment Accounting
- International Marketing & Sales Management
This university is renowned for having a big focus on business and management. This is also a university with compulsory attendance and with a limited number of places per year. Some degree courses are tailored for full or part-time workers, as they take place on Friday and Saturday.
Tuition fees for EU/EEA citizens are € 363.36 per semester. For citizens of third countries the fees are between € 4500 and € 5000 per Semester.
The FH Campus 02 is located up a hill in the neighbourhood of Geidorf.
Here is the link to their website.