Education in Croatia
Croatia is home to some of Eastern Europe’s oldest academic institutions, the universities of Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, which are attended by thousands of students from all over the world. Along with the high academic standards, the warm climate, relatively low costs of living, foreign citizens are also attracted by the nation’s warm hospitality and friendliness.
Primary and secondary education
The Croatian education system is divided into the following levels:
- preschool education (predškolski odgoj) is optional and public nurseries accept children from 1 to 6 years old.
- primary school (osnovna škola) from 6 to 14 years old. It is compulsory and free both for Croatians and foreign nationals with residence permits.
- secondary school (srednja škola) from 14 to 18 years old. It is compulsory and free. There are three types of secondary schools: gymnasiums (gimnazija), vocational (strukovna škola) and art schools (umjetnička škola). Pupils take a state graduation exam (državna matura) that also serves to enter university and get their Certificate of Maturity (svjedodžba o maturi)
- higher education (visoko školovanje)
The Croatian higher education system includes seven public and three private universities (sveučilišta), thirteen polytechnical institutes (veleučilišta) and over thirty schools of professional higher education (visoke škole). The most popular universities with the international students are that of Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik.
Most lectures are given in Croatian, but English, German, Italian and Hungarian are used as well. The universities of Rijeka, Split, Zadar, Zagreb and Osijek have courses in foreign languages.
Admission to Croatian universities is based on the state graduation exam results. Taking this exam is optional for foreign citizens if they have taken an equivalent test in their home country. International students admission is based on the secondary certificate grades, exams, a language proficiency test and, sometimes, an interview. The number of places for international students is limited.
Croatia has a unified electronic system that simplifies higher education applications. After registering on the system’s website, applicants can apply to ten different faculties in any academic institution, register for the exam and decide based on where they have been accepted.
Tuition fees are lower than in the other European countries. Liberal Arts degrees are the cheapest (
The cost of living for students is relatively low (
Documents required for the online application:
- nostrification of university documents (recognition by Croatian university standards)
- secondary education certificate (original or notarised copy)
- proof of right to remain in Croatia (visa, passport, residence permit)
- application fee (about €50)
All documents should be translated into Croatian. Nostrification is performed by the Education and Teacher Training Agency (Agencija za odgoj i obrazovanje) in Croatia, which accepts electronic copies.
Documents required by universities:
- application form
- CV and letters of recommendation (optional)
- exam/secondary certificate transcripts with subjects and grades
- information on the secondary education programme
All the documents must be translated into Croatian and notarised.