University of Klagenfurt

The University of Klagenfurt (German: Universität Klagenfurt or Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, AAU) is a federal Austrian research university and the largest research and higher education institution in the state of Carinthia. It has its campus in Klagenfurt.

University of Klagenfurt
Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
MottoPer Aspera Ad Astra (Latin)
Motto in English
Through hardships to the stars
TypePublic research university
Established1970 / 1975 / 1993
Budget 62 million (2019, annual federal funding)
Vice-ChancellorOliver Vitouch
Academic staff
1,098 (2017)
Students11,664 (2017/18)
749 (2017/18)
CampusSuburban, 27 acres (11 ha)
ColorsShades of Blue

Founded in 1970, the university today holds faculties of humanities, management & economics, technical sciences, and interdisciplinary studies. It ranks among the 350 best universities worldwide in the THE World University Rankings, and among the 150 best young universities worldwide (under the age of 50 years) in the QS World University Rankings.[1][2]

The university has defined two areas of research excellence, Networked and Autonomous Systems and Social Ecology (until 2018, transferred to BOKU), with the latter spawning three ERC Grants. It is going to launch a new excellence initiative, Humans in the Digital Age (HDA), in 2019.

It also hosts a number of central facilities such as the Robert Musil Institute (co-organizer of the Bachmann Prize), the Karl Popper Kolleg (an Institute for Advanced Study), the University Cultural Centre (UNIKUM), the build! Gründerzentrum (a start-up facilitation center), the University Sports Centre (USI), and the Klagenfurt University Library.

Oliver Vitouch, a cognitive psychologist and former faculty member of the University of Vienna and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, is the university's Vice-Chancellor. Larissa Krainer chairs the Academic Senate, Werner Wutscher is chairman of the University Council.

The University of Klagenfurt is situated 30 km from the Slovenian and 60 km from the Italian border and supports bi- and multilingualism, especially in the context of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia. Together with the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (Italy) and the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), it is among the three southernmost universities in the German-speaking world.


With the Protestant collegium sapientiae et pietatis founded in 1552, Klagenfurt hosted one of the oldest gymnasiums in Austria (today's Europagymnasium), directed by Hieronymus Megiser from 1593 to 1601, but had no ancient university tradition.

In 1970, the Austrian parliament passed a federal law allowing the establishment of an Educational Science College in Klagenfurt. The first doctoral degree was conferred in 1972. In 1975, new laws on higher education came into force, with the name of the college being changed into Universität für Bildungswissenschaften (University of Educational Sciences).

In 1993, the university's name was changed again to Universität Klagenfurt, and at the same time, a Faculty of Humanities and a Faculty of Economics, Business Administration, and Informatics were inaugurated. The Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies was inaugurated in 2004.

The university adopted the official cognomen Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt in 2004 (with its legal name still being Universität Klagenfurt). It was extended with a fourth, technical sciences faculty in 2007 (with a focus on Informatics, Information Technology, and Networked & Autonomous Systems), engaging in research operations in collaboration with the Lakeside Science & Technology Park. In 2012, the number of students passed the 10,000 mark.

In 2015, the university established commencement speeches at its graduation ceremonies. Among the speakers so far are Sabine Herlitschka, Josef Winkler, and August-Wilhelm Scheer. Presidents of Austria Heinz Fischer (formerly) and Alexander Van der Bellen (incumbent) are recurrent guests at doctoral graduations sub auspiciis Praesidentis.


With its suburban setting, the university campus is in walking distance of both the renaissance-dominated historic city centre of Klagenfurt (capital of the state of Carinthia) and the east bay of the Wörthersee, a renowned Austrian summer resort. Also hiking, climbing and skiing possibilities in the Austrian Alps are nearby. Together with the adjacent Lakeside Science & Technology Park,[3] a 60 acres start-up and spin-off park, the university campus forms the so-called Lakeside District.

From 2016 to 2018, the university's central and north wing (13,000 m²) were fully refurbished with a budget of € 26 million. As a result, the university was shortlisted for the Prix Versailles – Campuses 2019 (under UNESCO patronage), together with buildings of the University of Chicago in Hongkong, Barnard College, Stanford University, SPA Vijayawada, and Skoltech, which won the competition.[4][5]

Faculties and departments

Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities currently encompasses 11 departments and a faculty centre. Their common ambition, beyond doing discipline-specific research, is to foster multilingualism and intercultural education, with particular emphasis on the Alps-Adriatic region.

Faculty of Management and Economics

The Faculty of Management and Economics has a focus on applied business management while fostering interdisciplinary links with law, sociology, economics and application-oriented geography. Within these disciplines, the faculty concentrates on areas of research and development, teaching and consulting in fields where cultural, business and social factors interact.[6]

Faculty of Technical Sciences

The Faculty of Technical Sciences is dedicated to research and training in the fields of informatics, information technology and technical mathematics. The faculty was founded in January 2007 and superseded the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Informatics as well as a newly established Department for information and communication technology. The faculty is headed by Dean Gerhard Friedrich (informatics) and Vice-Dean Clemens Heuberger (mathematics). It is organized into nine departments and offers four bachelor's degree programs, four master's degree programs, two teacher training degree programs and two doctoral programs.

The special research area "self-organizing networked systems" closely collaborates with the research institute Lakeside Labs.[7]

Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies

The Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies develops, tests and evaluates innovative ideas in the academic fields of research, training and organization. The objective of the faculty is to tackle prevailing social problem areas by creating adequate research and learning processes.

University centres

  • Centre for Women's and Gender Studies
  • Digital Age Research Centre (D!ARC)
  • Karl Popper Kolleg
  • M/O/T – School of Management, Organizational Development and Technology
  • School of Education (SoE)
  • UNIKUM (University Cultural Centre)


University rankings
ARWU World[8] 801–900
THE World[9] 301–350
QS World[10] 601–650

From the STEM fields, the University of Klagenfurt has technology, engineering, and mathematics in its spectrum, but not any classic sciences or life sciences, which is a handicap in the large global university rankings. Still, it is listed in the 601–650 group in the QS World University Rankings, which aim to rank the 1,000 best universities in the world (out of > 26,000), between the University of Graz (541–550) and the University of Salzburg (751–800). Since 2018, it features in the QS Top 50 Under 50 ranking of the best 150 universities worldwide under the age of 50 years, in the 101–150 group.[11]

Published in September 2019, the THE World University Rankings 2020 list the University of Klagenfurt in the 301–350 group. This is the 2nd best rank of an Austrian university with a broader spectrum of studies, second only to the University of Vienna (134) and the Medical Universities of Vienna, Graz, and Innsbruck. THE uses the field-weighted citation impact, considering the different range of fields between universities.[12]

The University of Klagenfurt also ranks in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking) since 2019 (801–900), and in U-Multirank since 2017.

Honorary doctors


  1. THE World University Rankings 2020], retrieved 28 Sept 2019
  2. QS Top 50 Under 50 2020, retrieved 15 Aug 2019
  4. Shortlist of Prix Versailles – Campuses 2019, retrieved 15 Aug 2019
  5. Winner of the Prix Versailles – Campuses 2019, retrieved 15 Aug 2019
  8. Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019, retrieved 17 Aug 2019
  9. THE World University Rankings 2020, retrieved 12 Sept 2019
  10. QS World University Rankings 2020, retrieved 17 Aug 2019
  11. QS Top 50 Under 50 2020, retrieved 17 Aug 2019
  12. THE World University Rankings 2020: Methodology "The data are normalised to reflect variations in citation volume between different subject areas. This means that institutions with high levels of research activity in subjects with traditionally high citation counts do not gain an unfair advantage." (retrieved 28 Sept 2019)
  13. Awarded 1999, accepted 2013

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