The education system in the Republic of Croatia consists of:
- Early and preschool education – for children aged from six months until they reach school age,
- Primary school education – compulsory for all children, generally from six to the fifteen years of age; This applies to all children who are residents in the Republic of Croatia, regardless of their nationality,
- Secondary school education – lasts from one to five years, depending on the type of education (vocational school, high school – gymnasium or art school), and is completed by passing the state graduation (high school) or submission and defence of the dissertation (vocational and art schools). High school students have the possibility to stay in students’ homes,
- The service of educational activities, accommodation and meals of the student dormitory can be used by regular secondary school students in the Republic of Croatia who study outside their place of permanent residence and who are Croatian citizens, Croats from other countries, children of citizens of EU member states and foreign citizens outside the European Union. The student dormitory accepts foreign students from countries outside the European Union if they have a regulated residence status in accordance with the act governing the status of foreigners, with the consent of the founder. The total price of accommodation and meals for regular secondary school students in the dormitory in 2022 is a maximum of HRK 1,260.00 per month,
- State graduation exams may also be taken by other applicants who have at least four years of secondary education in the Republic of Croatia and candidates who have completed secondary education outside the Republic of Croatia, comparable to a four-year secondary education in the Republic of Croatia,
- Higher education – takes place at universities, colleges or art academies within them, polytechnics and colleges,
- Adult education – takes place in adult education institutions (public open schools, primary schools, secondary schools, universities, foreign language schools, penology and other institutions). An adult education institution may be established by: the Republic of Croatia, local and regional self-government units, other legal and natural persons. An adult education institution may perform a programme if it has a registered adult education activity and meets the spatial, personnel and material requirements set by the programme, which must comply with standards and norms for its implementation and the qualification standard or set of learning outcomes from the Register of the Croatian Qualifications Framework. Adult education participants can be persons who have reached the age of fourteen and meet other requirements set by the programme.
- Enrolment is performed pursuant to public tenders announced by universities, polytechnics or colleges conducting the study, at least six months before the start of classes.
- The procedure for selection of candidates for admission guarantees equality to all applicants regardless of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, social status, disability, sexual orientation and age.
- Foreign citizens enter the study under the same conditions as Croatian citizens but, in accordance with the decision of the competent state authority or institution of higher education, they may be asked to pay part or the full costs of study (each institution may issue a special decision by which an asylum holder or a foreigner under subsidiary protection is free from tuition fees).
- Students who are citizens of the European Union countries have the same rights under the Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education and they enter the study under the same conditions as Croatian citizens.
- Enrolment of foreign citizens may be restricted or denied if the study refers to military or police education or other studies of interest to national security.
Education of Adults
Primary education – intended for persons over fourteen years of age who have not completed primary school, with the aim of improving their literacy and developing life skills in all areas; funds for this purpose, for the participants, are provided in the state budget. The programme is performed in accordance with the prescribed Curriculum for Adult Primary Education. Participants who complete primary education are also provided with training for simple jobs in occupations, for the purpose of access to the labour market and easier employment.
Secondary education – includes programmes for acquiring a complete qualification at levels 4.1 and 4.2. of the Croatian Qualifications Framework. Programmes for the acquisition of a partial qualification or micro-qualification include training, advanced training and vocational specialist advanced training programmes. Adult education programmes are conducted through regular classes, consultative-instructional classes and correspondence-consultative classes, where the implementation of adult education programmes is adjusted to the age, experience, previously acquired education, knowledge, skills and abilities of the participants.
RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN QUALIFICATIONS
Croatian citizens, foreign citizens and persons without citizenship have the right on recognition of foreign educational qualifications.
Recognition refers to the formal acknowledgement of the value of foreign educational qualifications and periods of study, issued by the competent authority for the purpose of access to education or employment.
Considering the type of qualification for which recognition is sought, it is possible to differentiate:
- Recognition of primary and secondary school qualifications and periods of study:
- The recognition of foreign educational qualifications of completed primary education for employment and of completion of secondary education in general, gymnasium and art programs, for employment or continuing education, in the jurisdiction of the Education and Teacher Training Agency,
- The recognition of foreign educational qualification of secondary education in vocational programmes for employment or continuing education, in the jurisdiction of the Agency for Vocational and Adult Education,
- The recognition for a continuation of primary and secondary education is under the jurisdiction of the school institution where the applicant intends to continue his or her education,
- The recognition of primary education for access to secondary education is under the jurisdiction of the school institution where the applicant intends to continue his or her education.
- Recognition of higher education qualifications and periods of study:
- The recognition of foreign educational qualification for the purpose of continuing education in the Republic of Croatia (academic recognition and recognition of study periods) is in the competence of universities, colleges and polytechnics,
- The recognition for employment purposes in the Republic of Croatia (professional recognition) is in the competence of the Agency for Science and Higher Education and ENIC/NARIC office – https://www.azvo.hr/hr/office-enic-naric/recognizing-qualifications,
- The recognition for the purpose of access to occupations from the List of regulated professions in the Republic of Croatia within the competence of sectoral ministries and professional organisations: http://regulatedprofessions.azvo.hr/hr/professions.
The new Act on Recognition and Evaluation of Foreign Educational Qualifications is in the legislative procedure, and it will eliminate the shortcomings of the existing legislative and institutional framework by raising the quality of information on foreign educational qualifications, increasing transparency and removing administrative barriers in recognising qualifications when there is a trust in the system of quality assurance of the country in which the qualification was acquired. The procedure of evaluation of foreign educational qualifications of persons under international and subsidiary protection who are not able to submit evidence of the acquired qualification is introduced.
CROATIAN LANGUAGE LEARNING
Teaching and other forms of educational work are performed by school institutions in the Croatian language and Latin script. Students need to pass the test of knowledge of the Croatian language, which will be performed by the professional body of the respective educational institutions. After that, students are included in the appropriate type and level of education in an educational institution closest to their place of residence.
Depending on the age of students, educational institutions should assess whether the student will be simultaneously included in the corresponding attendance or in approximately appropriate class. If a student is included in lessons, his or her attendance will not be evaluated by grades but shall only be monitored in terms of socialisation and language learning.
Schools are required to provide special assistance to:
- Children of vulnerable groups (asylum seekers, foreigners under subsidiary protection),
- Children of Croatian citizens returning from abroad and who start or continue their education in the Republic of Croatia and have insufficient knowledge of the Croatian language,
- Children who reside at the Croatian territory and who are members of the families of workers nationals of EU Member States and who perform or have performed self-employed jobs, or who are employed or were employed on the Croatian territory.
- For the effective integration of students, schools organise individual and group forms of direct upbringing – educational work by which these students are enabled to overcome effectively the Croatian language and to compensate a lack of knowledge in certain subjects.
- Croatian language learning for vulnerable groups of adults (asylum seekers, foreigners under subsidiary protection) who are not included in the educational system, is organised at open universities, primary schools and other institutions;
- For the remaining groups of aliens the Croatian courses are organised at the following institutions of higher education: Croaticum – Centre for Croatian as a Second and Foreign Language, Faculty of humanities and social sciences, University of Zagreb, Centre for Croatian Studies Abroad, The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Split, Rijeka School of Croatian Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Rijeka and The programme in Croatian Language and Latin Script for Foreigners, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek; Croatian as a foreign language exam prior to enrolment to Croatian universities and upon completion of the freshman year as a prerequisite for continuation of the study is carried out by the National Centre for External Evaluation of Education.