In Croatia there are 49 institutions of higher education organised into universities (sveučilišta), colleges (visoke škole) and polytechnic institutions (veleučilišta) out of which 22 are public. The total number might be much larger than that if faculties of the four largest universities, with their centres in Zagreb, Split, Osijek and Rijeka, are counted independently. That is because they can be considered legal entities on their own. From those, University of Zagreb is both the largest and the oldest university in the region of South-Eastern Europe with over 75,000 students enrolled since its establishment in 1669. Although it is a small country, enrolment rates have grown exponentially in Croatia between 1994 and 2014 from 26.05% to 69.54%. Moreover, in 2018, 1,221 non-native students graduated from Croatian universities. For more information, you can access the Ministry of Education’s website at https://mzo.gov.hr/en.
Croatia signed the Bologna Declaration in 2001 and, therefore, you can study there at all three cycles: Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD. Undergraduate first-cycle studies (preddiplomski sveučilišni studij) usually take between three to four years and students acquire a total of 180 – 240 ECTS. Similarly, students can apply for a professional programme (stručni studij) which works in the same way but is aimed at professional training. Postgraduate second-cycle studies (diplomski sveučilišni studij) last between one to two years to complete, period in which students earn between 60 – 120 ECTS. There are also specialist professional degrees (specijalistički diplomski stručni studij). Post graduate third-cycle studies (poslijediplomski sveučilišni studij) normally last for three years and credits are decided from case to case. Lastly, integrated courses (integrirani preddiplomski i diplomski sveučilišni studij) are available in subjects like Medicine, Law or Teacher Education which last between five to six years.
The country’s official language is Croatian, but a majority of the people speak English, German or Italian. There are courses taught in English and students have the opportunity to learn Croatian in language courses or summer schools. Admission to undergraduate studies are administered through an online platform at https://www.studij.hr/ where up to 10 courses can be chosen. Applicants should provide evidence of relevant secondary school education. Entrance exams might be required. Admission to postgraduate studies are done independently by universities so students need to apply directly there. Requirements are proof of previous studies in tertiary education: Bachelor’s or Master’s. The months of July and September are the periods in which students can apply. The academic year begins on the 1st of October and ends in September after two semesters followed by an exam period.
Every university decides its own tuition fees, so they vary significantly, especially for postgraduate studies. Students can expect courses to be as much as 3,600 EUR per year, only counting undergraduate courses. Also, fees for international students are generally more expensive.
Information for International Students
Croatia is fairly affordable amongst European countries. In terms of living costs, is 52% cheaper to live there than in the rest of the world. A person needs around 1,127 EUR for living expenses. Student accommodation is rather limited and international students can hardly be offered any, but help is provided. Private accommodation is cheap in Croatia with the average price of 250 EUR per month. There is currently no financial support offered for international students apart from some bilateral programmes administered by the Ministry of Education (more information here). Overall, Croatia is offering tertiary education at an affordable price in “the heart of Europe”. Young people are bound to enjoy student life in a multicultural country full of great experiences.