Adult Education Centres in Austria

256 adult education centres

9 regional associations

1 federal association:
Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen, VÖV / Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres
Pädagogische Arbeits- und Forschungsstelle, PAF / Educational Work and Research Unit

History and Principles

Adult education centres in Austria date back to the founding of such institutes in Krems on the Danube in 1885 and in Vienna in 1887. After the Second World War they soon developed all over Austria and in 1950 the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres (VÖV) was founded.

67% of the adult education centres are themselves registered associations, 21% are run by local councils and 6,5% are limited companies. The adult education centres constitute the oldest and, at the same time, largest institution of adult education in Austria.
They are largely self-financing (60%), with the rest of the money deriving - in varying degrees - from provincial governments, local councils, the Federal Ministry (less than 5%) and projects funded by the European Community.
Austrian adult education centres regard themselves as educational institutions which are pledged to democracy, committed to the principles of human rights and independent of any political parties. For this reason they are opposed to any sort of behaviour which is anti-democratic, racist, anti-semitic, misogynous or which discriminates against any group of people, and they are committed to counteract such tendencies.
The Austrian Adult Education Centres view education as a learning process which continues throughout life and which comprehends the cognitive, affective and physical dimensions, in other words, the whole person. Its work is focused on the learners’ needs and requirements, but also tries to make people aware of needs and requirements they might forget about in every day life.

Special Qualities of the Adult Education Centres:

  • Breadth and variety of courses offered (e.g. more than 70 languages!),
  • Reasonable fees,
  • Region-wide coverage,
  • Continuity of courses on offer
  • Comprehensive view of education,
  • Flexibility,
  • Educational quality assurance.

Development in Figures

Nationwide statistical evaluation of adult education centres in Austria first began in 1950/51. Since then, the number of courses offered has increased tenfold and the number of participants more than fivefold. Today, some 46,000 courses are offered at Austrian Adult Education Centres, attended by almost half a million participants. These long-term educational opportunities are supplemented by 7000-10000 individual events every year, which attract between 300,000 and 900,000 people. Both attendance figures and the number of courses on offer continue to show an upward trend and from the year 2000 a stabilization on a high level.

Statistically, the courses are divided into seven specialised areas. The greatest number of participants is to be found in the 'Body and Health' area, which has more than 30% of the total figure, followed by 'Languages' with 27%. The number of people pursuing a 'Second Chance' adult education is also increasing.

About 700 people are employed in the organisation and administration of the Austrian Adult Education Centres, 200 of them in a pedagogical and planning capacity. Instruction is given by almost 20,000 course trainers.

For details concerning statistic material contact: stefan.vater@vhs.or.at or have a look at www.adulteducation.at.

Courses on offer (selected examples)

Intensive courses
Vocationally-oriented language courses
International certificates

Self-help groups

Vocational Training:
Key competences
Job re-entry
Further professional training
New vocational fields

Second Chance:
University entrance examination
Matura exam preparations
Basic educational courses

The Arts and Leisure:

Other areas:
People and Politics
Personality development

The Work of VÖV / PAF

The Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres (Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen, VÖV), together with its Educational Work and Research Unit (Pädagogische Arbeits- und Forschungsstelle, PAF), regards itself as a co-ordination centre for activities relevant to educational policy and pedagogics in Austrian Adult Education Centres and also as a service centre for its member organisations, the regional associations.

The Association's publishing activities document its various studies of adult education, as well as the research activities of VÖV and PAF. Its educational policy naturally also includes co-operative projects with other adult education centres, e.g. as part of the Conference for Adult Education in Austria (KEBÖ) or within an international framework (the International Certificate Conference, the Salzburg Talks for Directors of Adult Education Institutes and EU projects).

In one of its co-operative projects with other adult education institutes, the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres awards the Austrian Adult Education Television Prize for quality productions in ORF (Austrian TV) and the Austrian Adult Education Radio Prize. It also awards the Ludo Hartmann Prize for outstanding work in the interests of Austrian adult education centres.

The Association is also responsible for the conception, organisation and personal direction of training seminars, while specialist conferences provide impulses for innovative educational work and ensure the further training of employees. Working groups throughout Austria elaborate concepts and develop common perspectives on selected current themes and in specialist areas. E.g. a working group, consisting of members from various regional associations, is elaborating an Austrian Language Portfolio which should be available for the language learner by winter 2007 (for more information contact: elisabeth.feigl@vhs.or.at).

Knowledgebase Erwachsenenbildung

Knowledgebase Adult Education www.adulteducation.at is the online knowledge platform for topics relevant to the theory and practice of adult education in Austria. In addition, the Knowledge Base offers information on the structure, organisation, statistics and the history of the Austrian Adult Education Institutes as well as on continuing education offers. For further information contact: stefan.vater@vhs.or.at

Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen (VÖV)
Pädagogische Arbeits- und Forschungsstelle (PAF)

Pulverturmgasse 14
A-1090 Vienna

tel. +43-1-216 42 26
fax. +43-1-214 38 9
e-mail: voev@vhs.or.at