More than 80,000 foreigners to study in Austria in 2025

The number of foreigners at Austrian universities will double over the next 15 years, according to a new study.Frank Landler of the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Demography (ÖAW) in Vienna announced today (Tues) that he expected 82,000 foreigners to study at Austrian institutions in 2025. Only 44,000 students from abroad were registered by the country’s higher education bodies in 2007.Landler also said the number of Austrian students would peak in 2016 when around 200,000 may be registered at colleges and universities.The expert also warned to review these predictions “carefully”. Landler stressed they were dependant on various regulations.Austria is currently engaged in a bitter war of words over whether it would be a good idea to reintroduce so-called study fees.The fees were abolished in a late night parliament session by all represented parties except the People’s Party (ÖVP) just a few days before the 2008 general elections.The number of students has steadily risen over the years, and tens of thousands of young people have taken to the streets over the past few years to protest against overcrowded courses and the bad state many venues were in.Former Social Democratic (SPÖ) Finance Minister Hannes Androsch is currently preparing a referendum on the issue in a bid to improve the quality of education in Austria. Androsch said he feared the country would fall behind in international competition. The industrialist also appealed on the SPÖ-ÖVP coalition to invest more in the domestic science sector.ÖVP Science Minister Beatrix Karl, who took office in January, said she was in favour of setting up some kind of regulation or financial instrument to regulate the number of people registered at universities. SPÖ chiefs, however, made clear they opposed any kind of new financial barriers.Independent analysts have pointed out that the Austrian education system is in need of extensive structural reform.Vienna University was knocked down 11 places on a British research firm’s World University Ranking. QS said in September that Vienna University, the only Austrian higher education institution on the company’s top 200 list this year and in 2009, dropped from place 132 to 143.Cambridge University in Great Britain managed to knock Harvard from the leading position for the first time in six years. The US institution comes second, followed by archrival Yale.