Österreich Institut Ges.m.b.H.
Federal Law Gazette No. 177/1996 established the 100 percent state-owned Österreich Institut G.m.b.H. The company’s purpose is to organise the German language courses with a focus on Austrian idioms and specialties that were previously offered by the cultural institutes at different European locations on a private law basis. The objective of this measure was to achieve higher professionalism, transparent employment structures for the teaching personnel and a business organisation in line with commercial principles.
The company’s language course activities focus on Central and Eastern Europe (Bratislava, Brno, Budapest, Cracow, Warsaw). In the almost five years of the company’s existence, the number of course participants has increased from about 4,500 to approximately 8,800 at present. Österreich Institut Ges.m.b.H. achieves a remarkable self-financing ratio of 72 percent; however, in times of rigid public budget austerity measures, this high ratio is actually a necessity to safeguard the survival of the institution. The company owes its success in terms of commercial performance and language policy to the management’s dedicated commitment. Based on a uniform curriculum, the company has drawn up a programme of language courses that – although not cheap – excel in terms of quality. Currently, the Austrian Foreign Ministry contributes some EUR 930,000 annually from public funds, the operative goal being to continue cutting down on this requirement. A detailed business and marketing concept is in preparation. In the medium term, the federal government plans to reduce its ownership interest in the company by taking in private investors. Österreich Institut GmbH is tasked with attending to the continuous monitoring of the structure and quality of the language course programme and the further training of its teaching staff.
In September 2001 an “Austria Portal“ was set up as a platform for German language courses on the Internet at www.oesterreichportal.at.