Fuerstentum Liechtenstein (The Principality of Liechtenstein) is a landlocked country in central Europe and is surrounded by Austria and Switzerland. The Rhine River forms its western border. The population is 34,498 and the literacy rate is 100%. German is the official language and language of instruction.
The Principality was established in 1719 within the Holy Roman Empire. Until 1806, when it became a sovereign nation, it was occupied by both French and Russian troops. In 1815, Liechtenstein joined the Germanic Confederation and became independent in 1866 with the dissolution of the Confederation.
Currently, the Ministerium für Inneres, Bildung und Umwelt oversees Liechtenstein's education system.
Primary and Secondary Education
Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Primarschule (Primary school) is 5 years beginning at age 6. Based on an evaluation done by teachers and parents, students attend one of three types of Sekundarstufe I (lower secondary schools): realschule (50%), oberschule (28%), or gymnasium (22%).
- The Realschule is 4 years and prepares students for apprenticeships or further vocational or general education. Students have the option of transferring to a gymnasium after the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year. Upon completion, students are awarded a Zeugnis des Realschulabschülesses. Students can continue on in an apprentice, a vocational upper secondary program and in optional 10th year of education. The optional 10th year is for students who are uncertain of their future goals.
- The Oberschule is 4 years and prepares students who wish to pursue a vocational upper secondary school program. Students have option of transferring to the realschule after the 1st and 2nd year. Upon completion, students are awarded a Zeugnis des Oberschulabschülesses. Students have the option of continuing in an optional 10th year. Students can continue on in an apprentice, a vocational upper secondary program and in optional 10th year of education. The optional 10th year is for students who are uncertain of their future goals.
- The Gymnasium prepares students for university admission and is divided into 2 cycles. The first cycle (lower secondary) is 3 years and the 2nd cycle (Sekundarstufe II upper secondary) is 4 years. The first year of the 2nd cycle is a common curriculum and the students then select a concentration for the remaining 3 years. The tracks are lingua (focus on Latin and Italian); modern languages; art, music, and education; economics and law; and mathematics and natural sciences. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a Matura.
Vocational upper secondary school (Berufsmittelschule) is 3 years and leads to the Berufsmatura (Vocational Maturity Certificate). Students who hold a Berufsmatura (Vocational Maturity Certificate) are eligible for unrestricted admission to universities in Liechtenstein and Austria, and to universities of applied science in Switzerland.
Upper secondary school (Sekundarstufe II) is 3 years and leads to the Matura (Maturity Certificate). Students who hold a Matura (Maturity Certificate) are eligible for unrestricted admission to a university in Austria, Switzerland or the University of Tübingen in Germany.
Post-secondary education in Liechtenstein was implemented in the mid-1980s, and includes only 3 institutions: Hochschule Liechtenstein (HL) (Liechtenstein Public University of Applied Sciences), Internationale Akademie für Philosophie (IAP) (International Academy of Philosophy), and the Universität für Humanwissenschaften (UFL) (University of Human Sciences). Seventy-five percent of students who hold a Matura enroll in post-secondary institutions outside of Liechtenstein. There are no post-secondary vocational or technical institutions in Liechtenstein; therefore, students most enroll in vocational or technical institutions in Switzerland.
First and Second Cycles
The first-level university program is 3 years and leads to the Bachelor of Science. Graduate programs are 1½ to 2 years and lead to the Master of Science.
No doctoral programs are currently offered, but the Hochschule Liechtenstein (HL) (Liechtenstein Public University of Applied Sciences) will enroll its first students in a doctoral program in business economics in the 2009 - 2010 academic year. It will be at least 3 years of coursework and will require a defense of dissertation. The Hochschule will also offer a doctoral program in architecture in the future.