Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Austria introduces cap on EU students

  • The university of Graz said 42 percent of its first-year medicine students are now German (Photo: European Commission)

Austria will cap the number of foreign students at its universities at 20 percent in a bid to restrict German access to its medical faculties, despite a recent EU court ruling which declared earlier restrictions illegal.

Austrian education minister Elisabeth Gehrer on Monday (13 February) announced the quota system, reserving 75 percent of places in the country's faculties for medicine and dentistry for Austrian students, according to Austrian press reports.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Twenty percent of places will be for students from other EU countries, while non-EU nationals will fill up the remaining 5 percent.

The move comes as a response to a recent surge in popularity of Austrian universities among German students in particular.

Germans have been able to study freely in Austria since the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last July declared earlier Austrian restrictions illegal.

Before the ECJ ruling, Austria had ruling required applicants from outside the country to prove they had been accepted into a university in their country of origin before they would be considered for Austrian third level education.

But this was ruled as discrimination on the grounds of nationality by the EU's top court.

The judgement prompted a surge in German students at the medical faculties of Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck this winter semester, with the university of Graz saying 42 percent of its students are now Germans, according to Spiegel Online.

Quotas compatible with EU law?

Ms Gehrer, as well as EU law experts, told Austrian media the new quota system was compatible with EU law however.

The Austrian education minister explained the move was prepared in contact with the European Commission, as well as with Germany and Begium, which faces a similar problem with French students.

Belgium has seen its medical faculties filled up by French students who flee the tough admissions criteria in their own country.

Belgian authorities this month also opted for a quota scheme.

But Theo Ohlinger, one Austrian law expert, told Austrian daily Der Standard one can "never be sure" that the ECJ would not declare the quota scheme illegal as well.

"In the end it will come down to the ECJ, whether it accepts the new Austrian rules as proportionate – that is always a question of judgement."

The expert added that in any case, Austria would now have "three years of calm," which is the minimum period before a possible new complaint by a German student could reach the ECJ.

Schussel criticism on ECJ

Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schussel in December criticised the ECJ's interference in the Austrian university system.

"Suddenly, judgements emerge on the role of women in the German federal army, or on access of foreign students to Austrian universities – that is clearly national law," he stated.

The chancellor added "the ECJ…has in the last couple of years systematically expanded European competencies, even in areas, where there is decidedly no [European] community law."

Protests against Belgian plan to keep out foreign students

Belgian professors and French students in Belgium will hit the streets of Brussels on Wednesday to protest against a Belgian plan aimed at limiting the number of foreign students in higher education – a plan that could go against EU law.

Denmark seeks EU help on Swedish student influx

Denmark wants a change to EU rules on open universities after it emerged that one third of students accepted in Danish medical faculties this year are Swedish. Belgium and Austria face similar problems arising from the fact that EU citizens have equal access to universities across the bloc.

Dutch plan global fund for safe abortion

The Dutch want to lead efforts to make up the shortfall in aid for safe abortions around the world, after Donald Trump announced the US would not fund such projects.

Column / Health Matters

The yin and yang of Chinese medicine

Can traditional Chinese medicine help the modern European patient? Malta thinks so, in a new agreement with China.

News in Brief

  1. EU summons Turkish envoy over threats to Europeans
  2. British police make first arrests in London terror probe
  3. EU commission has received Facebook reply on WhatsApp
  4. Rome expects thousands of protesters at summit
  5. Dijsselbloem says his comments had 'Dutch directness'
  6. Ukraine spy agency bars Russian Eurovision singer
  7. Turkish president Erdogan threatens Europeans
  8. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EJCExpresses Concern That Extremists Still Have the Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  3. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  4. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  5. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  7. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  8. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  9. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  11. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  2. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  3. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver
  4. Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts
  5. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  6. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  7. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  8. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale