The education system in the Republic of Croatia consists of:

  • Pre-school education – for children aged from six months until they reach school age,
  • Primary/elementary 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 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;
  • 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.
  • High education – performed by institutions of higher education such as universities, faculties and art academies within the system, polytechnics and colleges.




  • 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.


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Adult education

Basic adult education – established for persons older than fifteen years who, for various reasons, have not completed primary school education, with a view to improving literacy and life skills in all areas of education; free of charge.

Secondary adult education – includes special programs for acquiring secondary school or vocational qualifications, lower qualifications, retraining and training programmes.



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 its ENIC/NARIC office,
  • The recognition of specializations and professional examinations – in the jurisdiction of the ministries and professional organizations.

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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 authorised to perform adult education programmes;
  • For other groups of foreigners, courses are organised by Croaticum – Centre for Croatian as Second Language and Foreign Language at the Department for Croatian Studies within the University of Zagreb, performing educational programmes (semester courses, one-month courses and summer schools) and examinations of the Croatian language for non-native speakers.


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