12,600 vie for 1560 medical school places

A new record has been set for applications to the three medical schools in Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck, as well as the new Medical Faculty at the University of Linz.

12,600 vie for 1560 medical school places
Photo: APA/Georg Hochmuth

According to a report in the Wiener Zeitung newspaper, Friday saw the sign-up of 12,600 students for the annual entrance exam to study medicine in Austria.  Given that there are only 1560 places available, that means around a 12 percent chance of making the grade – or one in eight.

In Vienna, 6016 people are trying for 740 places, while Innsbruck is seeing 3478 applicants for only 400 places.

Graz has 360 places for 2765 applicants, and last is the new campus at Linz, which is offering 60 places to 342 candidates.

With the popularity of Austrian medical schools within the EU, quotas have been imposed that require 75 percent of the places to go to students with the Austrian 'Matura' certificate, while 20 percent are allocated to other EU countries (especially Germany), and the remaining five percent to non-EU countries.

The exam is identical across each of the four universities.  The majority of candidates are women.

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Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools
Illustration Photo: AFP

So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the text refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”.

However, representatives of both parts of the governing coalition, the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), have made it clear that the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.

FPOe education spokesman Wendelin Moelzer said the law was “a signal against political Islam” while OeVP MP Rudolf Taschner said the measure was necessary to free girls from “subjugation”.

The government says the patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected.

Austria's official Muslim community organisation IGGOe has previously condemned the proposals as “shameless” and a “diversionary tactic”.

The IGGOe says that in any case only a “miniscule number” of girls would be affected.

Opposition MPs almost all voted against the measure, with some accusing the government of focusing on garnering positive headlines rather than child welfare.

The government admits that the law is likely to be challenged at Austria's constitutional court, either on grounds of religious discrimination or because similar legislation affecting schools is normally passed with a two-thirds majority of MPs.

The OeVP and FPOe formed a coalition in late 2017 after elections in which both parties took a tough anti-immigration stance and warned of the dangers of so-called “parallel societies”.