UAS or UNI: What are the differences and which one suits you better?

Written by: Kerstin Lakits, 06.04.2023

Did you graduate from high school and are you ready to begin your studies? Fantastic! Then you only have to pick the right type of university, choose a great STUWO accommodation and you are ready to go! Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences differ in many points. That’s why we collected all of the differences, advantages and disadvantages here. This will make your decision much easier!

Differences: UNI or UAS?

In Austria, there are two types of universities after high school: universities (uni) and universities of Applied Sciences (UAS; in German: FH). Both institutions offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but there are many differences that can influence your decision.

1. Degrees and study programmes 

Austrian universities of Applied Sciences offer practically and professionally oriented study programmes in technical, economic or social sectors. However, universities focus on research and scientific work. Some study programmes, for example PhD and doctoral programmes, are only available at universities, since you cannot get a PhD at universities of Applied Sciences. So if you want to study medicine or law, a university would be perfect for you. 

Therefore, the first question to ask yourself is: What do you want to study? Then you can check which type of university suits you better. In this article, we help you answer the question „What should I study?”. 

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 accept a limited number of new students per year. That’s why every UAS has an admission procedure and application process, mostly in the form of admission tests and application interviews.  

Public universities handle the admission differently because there is no general application or admission procedure. Only popular and oftentimes overbooked study programmes, such as medicine, psychology or law, conduct admission tests. Some study programmes only conduct admission tests if there are too many applicants. However, almost all study programmes have a study entrance and orientation phase (STEOP), which must be finished in the first semester to continue your studies.

3. Tuition fees, grants & financial support  

The tuition fee at most universities of Applied Sciences amounts to €363.36 + €22.70 (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 Austrians and EU citizens who study with serious intent. So, universities are often cheaper because you only have to pay the ÖH fee.

No matter at which university you choose, you can get financial support. Students whose parents cannot support them financially can claim a student benefit. If you plan to go abroad during your studies, you can apply for financial support, for example a mobility scholarship or grant for studying abroad. Students who have already earned their living can apply for a scholarship for students who earned their living. Towards the end of your studies, you can receive a graduation scholarship. All the information is available at You can easily apply online via the website as well!  

The Austrian Student Representation (ÖH) support students in times of financial distress through the ÖH social funds. Furthermore, the employees at ÖH are equipped to give you advice about financing your studies!

Here is an article with all types of financing your studies in Austria!

4. Study organisation 

Here probably lies the biggest difference between university and UAS.

Universities of Applied Sciences are well structured, similar to a school. There are fix timetables and students are grouped together in “cohorts” each year. Attendance is obligatory. You work in smaller groups on different projects. Thanks to the prescribed curriculum, almost all students finish their studies in the minimum duration. Some UAS offer dual studies, meaning that you do your vocational training and academic degree at the same time. For many study programmes, you can choose to do them part-time or remotely

Universities have a much more flexible curriculum, which allows you to put together your own timetable. Many courses do not have obligatory attendance. Because of the individual planning of your studies, you will probably meet new students in each course. It is common for students to experience delays with their graduation date because of time interferences, prerequisites or overbooked courses. 

5. Job opportunities and career start

It cannot be said 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. 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 experience

  • networking for future jobs

  • smaller work groups

  • dual studies

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

  • fewer students per year (harder to get in)

  • fixed timetable

  • obligatory attendance

  • tuition fees


  • autonomy

  • critical thinking and research

  • bigger budget for research

  • individual organisation of studies and timetable

  • oftentimes no obligatory attendance

  • individual organisation

  • Knock-Out exams (STEOP)

  • full-time studies

  • potential delays

Which type of university is right for me: university or university of Applied Sciences

Not only do the organisational differences influence your decision, but also your preferences and personality. Autonomy, organisation and your way of working are the most important personality traits. We summarised personality traits and preferences that help you decide where to study!

A UAS is the right choice for you if…A university is the right choice for you if…
You are already working and want to combine your work and studies.You have enough time to commit to full-time studying.
You prefer to work practically.You like to conduct research, do academic work and work in sciences.
You want regular exams throughout the semester.You study by yourself and prepare adequately for exam periods.
You want pre-organised studies and a fix timetable from your UAS.You are well organised and put your timetable together yourself and choose your courses.
You work better in small group.You enjoy meeting new students every semester and work well in bigger groups.
You prefer the organisational character of a UAS, like a school.You want to put together and plan your studies yourself.
Your studies should prepare you for your future job.You want to get a PhD, work at a university in the future or work in research.


In the end, the decision about the right option is completely up to you and your preferences. What you want to study is the first decisive factor. Then it mostly depends on your personality and goals. Both types of universities have advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, it will be easier to make a decision with this article. These five counselling centres can help you with your decision if you are unsure.

Either way, your student life will be the best time of your life. Here are more tips for first-year students and how to make friends at university.


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