Vienna International School

Vienna International School (VIS) is a non-profit international school in Vienna, Austria. The school was built to accommodate the children of United Nations (UN) employees and diplomats when the UN decided to locate one of its offices in Vienna (at the Vienna International Centre), and it remains affiliated to the UN. About 50% of students are children of UN employees and receive education grants, while much of the remaining students are children mainly of embassy staff and company staff. The school has an enrollment of 1700 students, from pre-primary to twelfth grade.

Vienna International School

Coordinates48°14′41.45″N 16°25′54.74″E
Grades1-12 (ELC 4-5, ELC 5-6)
Average class size17-24
Student to teacher ratio1:8.3
Campus typeSuburban
Athletics conferenceISST, SCIS, DVAC, CEESA


International Community School

The first English language medium school in Vienna was set up in August 1955 as the International Community School. Previously, it had been the 'British Army School' in Schönbrunn barracks and catered for the children of the British occupying forces in Vienna. The Austrian State Treaty signed in May 1955 resulted in the occupying forces leaving Austria, so the school transformed into the International Community School under the patronage of the British, American and Indian Missions.

It opened on 1 September 1955 in the 18th district of Vienna. By the end of the year, 150 students between the ages of 3 and 15 years attended the International Community School. Soon the building proved too small for the expanding school, which moved into the 19th district. By 1959, 300 children represented 25 different nationalities in ICS. However, most of the children were American or Canadian, so the British and Indian Embassies started a separate British style school in 1959, the English School, while the ICS changed into the American International School.

English School

The English School moved into Grinzinger Straße 95, a premises found with the help of the British Ambassador, Sir James Bowker, the legal advisor at the Embassy Walter Rhodes, and Vienna's Deputy Lord Mayor, Hans Mandl. The English School quickly expanded and was visited by the British Minister of Education in 1961. Some of the first staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency sent their children to the English School in 1959. The school year 1961-62 saw the introduction of William Kirk as director. In May 1969, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the English School on a state visit to Vienna. In 1974, some families of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) started sending their children to the school.

Vienna International School

In September 1977, Maurice Pezet was invited by the Austrian Government to start the project of developing a Vienna International School on the model of the Geneva and New York United Nations Schools in preparation for the expansion of the United Nations to Vienna. {Vienna is one of the four headquarters of the UN, along with New York, Geneva and Nairobi. The Vienna International Centre (UNO City) is leased to the United Nations for 1 Austrian schilling (7 euro cent) per year.} It was anticipated that there would be two years of preparation for the small existing English School to be incorporated into the school development plan for the Vienna International School (VIS).

The Vienna International School officially opened its doors on 11 September 1978 to pupils of 60 nationalities. Primary and Secondary were accommodated on Grinzingerstrasse and Kindergarten was located on Heiligenstädter Strasse. A part of Secondary moved briefly to Zollergasse and then Schloss Pötzleinsdorf. A year later, Secondary School moved to Peter-Jordan-Straße, where it remained until the custom built present campus was opened in September 1984 with Maurice Pezet as Director. The then Chancellor, Dr Bruno Kreisky had initiated the idea of a new, specially built school and the campus was entirely funded by the Austrian Government. Dr. Kreisky employed Maurice Pezet, formerly associated with the UN School in New York (UNIS), to manage the project and he became the first Director of the new Vienna International School. Dr. Kreisky was present at some of the opening events at the VIS. The new building was constructed in the 22nd District, two U-Bahn (underground) stops from the VIC, and opened in September 1984. It is located on Straße der Menschenrechte, two hundred metres away from the U1 Kagran underground station and the Donau Zentrum Shopping Mall.[1]


The school is divided into 3 wings. A Primary and Secondary area, an administrative wing and a separate building for Pre-Primary. The school also has an outdoor ecology area. Facilities include:

  • 5 gyms
  • 250 seat Theatre - The William Kirk Theatre.
  • 2 well-stocked libraries (one for primary school, and one for secondary school)
  • Numerous computer labs and a wireless network to support work on laptops for Secondary students.

Outside facilities include:

  • Artificial turf field
  • 2 grass courts
  • 1 large paved court
  • 380 meters Athletic track
  • 3 playgrounds


The school is recently undergoing a refurbishment project, modernising many parts of the campus. These have included (list not complete):

  • Secondary Library renovation 2016
  • Construction of students study lounges 2012
  • Theatre renovation project 2013
  • Major investment in bathroom facilities 2010 - 2013
  • Upgrading of 6 science labs with a donation from Borealis, July 2008.
  • Preparing an adjacent field to be used for PE lessons, July 2008.
  • Establishing a pond, May 2010
  • Upgrading of 2 computer labs, April 2009
  • Refurbishing the athletics track, May 2008.

School Day

The school day starts at 8:30 for Primary 8:27 for Secondary and ends at 14:55 for the Primary school and at 15:15 for the Secondary school. For Grade 11/12, some subjects last until 16:00. In the Secondary school, there are 8 periods per day, each 40 minutes long, with 3-minute intervals to get to class to class, a 20-minute break at 10:00 and a 45-minute lunch break from 12:20-13:05. Grades 6-8 have separate lunch breaks than 9-12. Grades 6-8 have lunch breaks from 12:21- 13:04 and 9-12's have lunch breaks from 13:04-14:49. The Primary School has 7 periods a day, with a rough 1-hour lunch break at 11:40- 11:45 and a 20-minute break at 10:00-10:20.


VIS offers all three programs of the International Baccalaureate (IB) - International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) and the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP). The school has offered the IB Diploma programme since 1984.


The school has an IB World School. It is also accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS).

Graduation requirements and courses

For the IB Diploma, students must select one each from the following groups. The following subjects were offered at VIS as of 2015:

Group 1: Language 1

It is also possible to study a privately taught mother tongue as Group 1 language at HL or SL

Group 2: Language 2

Group 3: Individuals and Society

Group 4: Experimental Sciences

Group 5: Mathematics

Group 6: The Arts

Rather than taking an arts course, students may opt to take another subject from Groups 1 to 5 as their 6th subject

Camps & trips

Additionally to one-day excursions starting in Pre-Primary, the school offers yearly whole-grade camps from Grades 2-9 and specialized trips from Grade 10-12.

School magazine

The school magazine is called the Spotlight. It is published four times yearly, with additional issues for student council elections or other special events. A primary school magazine known as The Mole was also started under the guidance of secondary students during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Famous visits

  • March 2012: Ernst Fuchs, one of the founders and member of the "Vienna School of Fantastic Realism"
  • 19. May 2009: Jane Goodall
  • 15. June 2009: Sr. Lucy Kurien, founder of MAHER
  • 23. November 2017: Alexander Van der Bellen - Bundespräsident Österreich (President of Austria)

Famous alumni

  • Salam Pax
  • Tobias Ellwood, Foreign Minister, United Kingdom
  • Lukas von Lattorff, member of the royal family of Liechtenstein



VIS offers the following teams during the year,[2] in addition to other sports:

  • Season 1: Soccer, HS Volleyball, Cross Country
  • Season 2: Basketball, Alpine Skiing, Swimming, Sr Rugby
  • Season 3: Golf, Softball, Track & Field, MS Volleyball, MS & Jr Rugby, HS Tennis


VIS participates in the following athletics conferences:

  • Danube Valley Athletics Conference (DVAC)
  • International School Sports Tournament (ISST)
  • Sports Council of International Schools (SCIS)
  • Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA)

In addition to this, VIS traditionally organizes the annual Hauser Kaibling Race in Haus im Entstal between international schools in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.


The school has a strong engagement in local and global charital events. One of its main charities is Maher.

2004 Tsunami Disaster Response

The school responded to the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and focused their efforts on helping to rebuild a school in Indonesia which had been hit hard by the disaster.


VIS also operates a Fairtrade group aiming to promote the purchase of products that tries to guarantee a better return and quality of life for farmers in lesser economically developed countries.


There are multiple alumni pages. These include:

  • a reunion section on the website
  • a dedicated website
  • a Facebook page


Vienna International School is the home of Vienna International Scout Group 88 (German: Wien 88-Internationale Pfadfindergruppe). The Scout group is affiliated to Boy Scouts and Girl Guides of Austria. It is one of a few English-speaking groups in Vienna but the only one within the Austrian Scout Association which is part of the world associations (WAGGGS and WOSM). It was founded in 1980 and was offered as an afternoon free time activity to pupils and students of the VIS of primary and secondary level first. Over the years children from other bilingual schools around joined in. Meanwhile, the scouting meetings happen offsite but the VIS still supports the group and the volunteer leaders team.

  1. VIS School History
  2. "VIS Competitive Sports Programme". VIS Website. Vienna International School. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
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