Monday

25th Jun 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

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.

Investigation

How to get around the EU posted workers directive

Some EU careworkers in Belgium receive around €400 a month - despite their carers paying €2,500 a month and paying for flights and accommodation. The answer lies in how firms can skirt the safeguards in the EU's posted workers directive.

Feature

Resetting the gender balance through football

Many sports, like football, have been so heavily male-dominated at every level that women and girls have battled against poor odds to be treated as equals in the game. FIFA aims to change that.

Opinion

EU needs comprehensive 'sexuality education'

The subject is mandatory by law in some form in nearly all EU countries - but it is mostly reproduction- and biology-centred, covering topics such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  4. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  5. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  11. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  12. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform

Latest News

  1. Orban allies divided in vote on Hungary sanctions probe
  2. Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?
  3. UN offers to help EU's migrant 'disembarkation' plan
  4. Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability
  5. Ponytailed green MEP joins 'the other side of the table'
  6. EU leaders still in search of migration plan
  7. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  8. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us