So far there is no “escape to private schools” in Austria

The often lamented “flight to private schools” has yet to happen. Conversely, the proportion of children in private schools has increased slightly over the past few decades – and recently it has decreased slightly again, statistics show in a new volume of Statistics Austria “Education in Numbers 2022/23”. Depending on the type of school, the proportion of children in private schools is about five percent (primary schools) and one-third (vocational middle schools/BMS).

In absolute numbers, most private students go to AHS. Between 1990/91 and 2022/23 their numbers actually grew from 22,300 to 34,500 in absolute numbers – but this was mainly related to the generally greater increase in pupils in secondary schools. In the early 1990s, the proportion of private school students at AHS was 14.1 percent. A decade later it was 15.2 per cent and 15.8 per cent in 2010/11. Since then, the ratio has remained unchanged.

Similar developments in elementary and middle schools

A similar development is seen in elementary and middle schools. In the early 1990s, 14,700 children attended private primary schools, which was four percent at the time. In 2010/11 this number grew to 16,400 or five per cent. Since then, the proportion of private primary school students has remained more or less unchanged. Between 2020/21 and 2022/23, it has decreased even marginally, both in absolute and relative terms. Most recently, 17,700 of the 360,000 primary school students attended private school, or 4.9 percent.

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The situation is almost parallel in secondary schools: in 1990/91, 9,900 children and young people enrolled in a private institution (then still a secondary school), a share of 4.1 percent. An increase of 12,200 or 5.9 per cent in 2020/21 – since then the absolute number has grown very little and the relative share has fallen minimally.

More private students at BHS

Traditionally, there is a relatively high proportion of private schools in the area of ​​vocational middle and high schools, among others, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce companies, for example in the tourism sector. While the proportion of private school students in BMS has remained unchanged at one-third since the 1990s – in absolute terms, their numbers have fallen from 19,000 to 16,300 – the overall BMS student population has fallen.

Only Vocational High Schools (BHS) show a steady increase in the number of private school students. Since the early 1990s, their number has increased from 13,200 to 22,100 and their share has increased from 12.5 to 15.7 percent.


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