Access to tertiary level without upper secondary level education

Examples of access practices from Austria and Finland.

Studying without Matura: An example from Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences

In Austria, higher education applicants need in general to have finished their upper secondary level education and they should also have successfully passed their “A-Levels” to receive a Diploma (Matura, Abitur). For students without this qualification, there is an alternative way. Additional courses are offered for receiving a permission to study (the so-called “Studienbefähigungslehrgang”).

The applicant needs confirmation of prior learning (transcripts, confirmations of course participation) and completes an individual learning agreement with the HE institution. The pre-entry courses are usually, depending on the studies the person is aiming at, English, German, Mathematics, Physics, Biology and the like. The pre-entry courses usually take one year and are free of charge. After passing them successfully, the participants can apply to the study program of their choice.

More information on this possibility (in German only) is available online at

Open University path: An example from Finland

In Finland, open tertiary level studies are offered for any applicant regardless of education and age. Students without an upper secondary qualification may also enroll.

Students are usually accepted in the order of enrolment and the studies are subject to a reasonable fee. Open Studies do not lead to a degree qualification as such. However, credits accumulated from open studies can contribute towards a degree. Students having completed a substantial amount (typically 60 ECTS) of open studies they may apply to become a degree student via a separate “Open path” application process. The acceptance criteria vary depending on the degree programme and higher education institution.

Read more about open university and open UAS studies at
Example of Laurea University of Applied Sciences practice for Open path studies (in Finnish only) is accessible online at

Source: University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, and Laurea University of Applied Sciences