UAS or UNI: A comparison

Written by Kerstin Lakits, Dec 09, 2021

You graduated from high school and are ready to become a student? Great! Then you just have to choose the right education centre, look for an amazing STUWO dormitory of your choice and you’re ready to go. To help you decide between a UAS and UNI, we’ve put together all the information as well as pros and cons.

Differences: UAS vs UNI?

In Austria, there are two types of higher education facilities:

  • Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS; in German: FH)
  • Universities (short: uni)

Both institutions offer bachelor and master degrees, but there are many differences that could influence your decision.

1. The selection of courses

Austrian UAS offer mostly practical studies in technical, economic or social sciences. Some study programmes, for example PhD programmes, are only available at universities. So, if you want to study medicine or law, a university is the right choice for you.

Therefore, the first question that you should ask yourself should be: What do you want to study? Then you can decide if a UAS or university fits better.

2. Admission requirements

You need a graduation certificate (for Austria and Germany: Matura and Abitur), a Berufsreifeprüfung (short version of a high school graduation) or a student permit certificate for both UAS and universities.

Universities of Applied Sciences only allow a limited amount of new students per year. Therefore, every UAS has some kind of admission process, mostly consisting of admission tests and application interviews.

Public universities don’t have that. Only extremely popular fields of study, which are usually overbooked, like medicine, psychology or law, have admission tests. Some fields of study use admission tests only if there is a high number of potential students. However, most fields of study have the so-called STEOP, which consists of obligatory exams that have to be taken in the first semester in order to continue studying.

3. Tuition fees

The tuition fee at most universities of Applied Sciences amount to €363.36 + €20.20 (ÖH fee) per semester. These are the same for all students. Technically, there are also tuition fees at public universities, but they don’t apply to Austrian and EU citizens who study with serious intent. So, universities are often cheaper because you only have to pay the ÖH fee.

4. Course of study and organisation

This is the most striking difference between UAS and university.

Universities of Applied Sciences:

  • UAS have a structured programme, similar to a school.
  • There are fixed timetables and students of a year are put into study groups (“Kohorten”).
  • You have to be present most of the time and work in small groups on different projects.
  • Thanks to the structured programme, most students at UAS finish their studies in the minimum duration.
  • Some UAS offer “dual studies” which combine a practical and academic degree.


  • Universities have more flexible curricula, which allow you to put together your own timetable.
  • Many courses don’t require attendance and the individual organisation of your studies allows you to meet new students in every course.
  • Due to overlaps in time, requirement chains or overbooked courses, it might take longer to finish your studies.

5. Job opportunities and career start

You can’t really say which faculty has better job opportunities because there are so many aspects like industry, job market and personal goals and preferences that need to be considered.

However, it should be mentioned that networking with practitioners of a certain branch is easier and better at a university of Applied Sciences. Obligatory internships, cooperation with firms and contacts to teachers are definitely an advantage. However, if you want to work in the field of research and academics, a university is better suited for you.

Your studies are your starting point and you have to give it your best. With a lot of commitment, hard work and perseverance, you’ll find a great job with every degree. And in the end, it doesn’t matter where you get your degree from. 

Advantages and disadvantages

We have a pro and con list for you to help you decide if a UAS or UNI suits you better.

Universities of Applied Sciences

  • less organisation

  • practical studies

  • networking for future jobs

  • smaller groups

  • dual studies

  • easier to combine job and studies (studies for working students)

  • fewer students per year (admission process)

  • obligatory attendance

  • fixed timetable

  • tuition fees


  • independence

  • critical thinking and research

  • bigger budget for research

  • individual organisation of studies and timetables

  • usually no attendance required

  • individual organisation

  • knock-out exams (STEOP)

  • full time studying

  • potential delays in studies


In the end, whether you go to UAS or UNI depends entirely on you and your preferences. What you want to study will be your first indicator, but the rest depends on your personality and goals. UAS and UNI both have pros and cons. Hopefully, our list will make it easier for you to decide. Either way, your student life will be the best time of your life. Here are more tips for a successful start into your studies and tips on how to make friends at university (or UAS).


We are happy to help!