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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Bilateral agreements and worldwide cooperation


13.Mobility and internationalisation

13.7Bilateral agreements and worldwide cooperation

Last update: 27 November 2023

Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation


Bilateral Agreements

Bilateral education and research cooperation of the Ministry of Science and Education is based on interstate bilateral agreements, programmes, protocols and other implementing legal acts, with the form of cooperation and the number and types of scholarships awarded varies from country to country. Bilateral cooperation primarily implies exchange, ie. awarding scholarships for outgoing and incoming mobility to domestic and foreign students, doctoral students, postdoctoral students and researchers for the study, research and training. The Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes is responsible for the operational implementation of bilateral agreements in the field of higher education.

Higher education and scientific bilateral cooperation include the exchange of scholarships and the implementation of international scientific research projects, and what is characteristic of the exchange in bilateral programmes is the principle of reciprocity, so there are two forms of scholarships:

  • Outgoing scholarships (outgoing mobility scholarships awarded by partner countries to Croatian citizens)
  • Incoming scholarships (scholarships for incoming mobility awarded by the Republic of Croatia to foreign citizens).

Bilateral mobility programmes in higher education are based on bilateral agreements and programmes in the fields of science and education, and bilateral interstate cooperation in the field of higher education includes about 30 countries. Based on bilateral programmes, there are on average about 100 outgoing mobilities of Croatian citizens abroad and about 100 incoming mobilities of foreign students and researchers at Croatian higher education and scientific research institutions (Scholarships of the Government of the Republic of Croatia).

Bilateral interstate cooperation enables the exchange of students, research and teaching staff, scientists, experts and researchers, as well as direct cooperation between educational institutions and offers opportunities for language training. Scholarships are awarded in the following categories: scholarships for a semester/partial undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies, scholarships for the entire undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies, scholarships for research stays, scholarships for professional development and scholarships for language training, ie. summer language courses.

Based on bilateral programmes, and in accordance with common interests and priority areas, project research cooperation is achieved by supporting two-year international research projects with the following countries: Albania, Austria, France, India, China, Hungary, Macedonia, Germany, USA and Slovenia. About 200 bilateral scientific research projects from all fields of science are being implemented.

Affirmation of the Croatian language, literature and culture is one of the priorities of Croatian politics. The lectureships of the Croatian language and literature at foreign universities and the lectureships of foreign languages at Croatian universities are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and Education. The Ministry takes care of 34 official exchange lectureships in the Croatian language and literature and three centres for Croatian studies in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which it co-finances. In addition to these lectureships and centres, which include more than 2,000 students in 25 countries, the Ministry fully or partially supports about 40 other independent lectureships that are not under its jurisdiction.

The Ministry and the Agency award one-semester scholarships for Croatian language training at the Croaticum of the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb and the Rijeka Croatian School of Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Rijeka, and in addition to one-semester scholarships, professors related to the preparation of scientific papers in the field of Croatian studies. Foreign Slavic scholars are also offered scholarships for the summer seminar.

Educational cooperation of primary and secondary schools includes cooperation with relevant ministries in other countries, institutes in the field of education, direct cooperation of educational institutions, work of foreign assistants/lecturers of foreign languages in Croatian schools, organisation of Croatian teaching abroad, care for Croatian national minority abroad.

Croatian schools directly cooperate on projects with schools in other countries in areas of common interest such as school management, education for democratic citizenship, teaching about cultural heritage, information and communication technologies, human rights, as well as other topics important for human resources development and achieving a knowledge society.

The Ministry of Science and Education organises funded Croatian language teaching in whole or in part in 20 countries (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Montenegro, Chile, France, Italy, Ireland, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia).


Cooperation and Participation in Worldwide Programmes and Organisations

Croatia is a member of a multilateral organisation and initiative, such as CERN (Centre for Nuclear Physics, Geneva), ESF (European Science Foundation), EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation - European Organisation for Nuclear Physics) molecular biology, EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory), EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and other multilateral activities such as ICAF (International Child Art Festival) ), CIVITAS (non-governmental organisation for civic education), UNESCO ASPnet (Associated Schools Network).

In 1992, Croatia became a member of UNESCO. UNESCO is active at all levels of education, from pre-school to higher and adult education. The main areas of its activity and related initiatives in which Croatia has actively participated or is participating are Education for All, the UN Decade of Literacy, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and World Heritage Education. Croatian schools actively participate in the UNESCO programme of the Network of Associated Schools (ASPnet).

The Ministry of Science and Education actively supports the campaigns of the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF.

Since 1996, Croatia has been a member of the Council of Europe. The work programme focuses on the following topics: education for democratic citizenship, learning and teaching modern history, language learning and teaching, intercultural and interreligious education, education of minorities and the Roma community, prevention of violence in schools, including the European dimension in education, development of educational policies and continuous professional development of teachers.

Croatia participates in research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) such as PISA, TALIS, TIMMS and PILRS.


European Union’s education programmes and initiatives

Jean Monnet's Erasmus+ activities promote excellence in teaching and research in the field of EU studies worldwide. The activities are designed to foster dialogue on EU policies between academia and policymakers. Special emphasis is placed on European integration and the role of the EU in a globalised world, and on the promotion of active citizenship and dialogue between people and cultures.

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Graduate Study (EMJMD) is a prestigious integrated international study programme, jointly led by an international consortium of higher education institutions.

The objectives of the joint Erasmus Mundus graduate studies are as follows:

  • encourage quality improvement, innovation, excellence and internationalisation in higher education institutions
  • increase the quality and attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and support EU external action in the field of higher education by offering full-time scholarships to the best graduate students worldwide
  • to improve the level of competencies and skills of masters of the profession and especially the relevance of joint graduate studies for the labour market by increasing the participation of employers.

The scholarships are funded by the EU and are awarded to the best students among those who applied in the annual selection rounds. Classes must be held in at least two countries participating in the Programme. Upon successful completion of the study programme, a joint study diploma (one diploma issued on behalf of at least two higher education institutions from the EMJMD consortium) or more diplomas (at least two diplomas issued by two higher education institutions from the consortium) are awarded.

Regional Cooperation, other programmes and initiatives

The Central European Initiative (CEI) is an interstate regional association that brings together 17 member states: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Czechia, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Ukraine. The strategic goals of the Central European Initiative are to support member states on their European integration path; promoting the harmonisation of CEI member states with EU standards and implementation of small and medium-sized projects. SEI connects multilateral diplomacy and project management, both as a recipient and as a donor, and is a link between EU macro-regions. The initiative enables and financially supports cooperation in the field of education and also offers scholarships for higher education.

CEEPUS (Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies) is a regional mobility programme in higher education for students and teaching staff. The aim of CEEPUS is to improve cooperation in the field of higher education and related scientific activities, with an emphasis on inter-university cooperation and mobility. In addition to Croatia, 15 Central and Eastern European countries are participating in the programme. The backbone of the programme is the CEEPUS network, a partnership of higher education institutions through which the majority of all mobility takes place.

In addition to the mobility of students and teaching staff within the networks, CEEPUS also provides mobility outside the CEEPUS networks, the so-called "freemover" mobility. The Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes is in charge of the implementation of this programme at the national level. CEEPUS started operating on 1 December 1994, when the multilateral CEEPUS Agreement entered into force. Croatia joined CEEPUS in 1995. The CEEPUS III Agreement is currently in force, which entered into force on 1 May 2011 for a period of fourteen years.

The Education Reform Initiative of South-Eastern Europe (ERISEE) is a regional platform for cooperation in the field of education and training. ERISEE supports national reforms in education and training through various regional activities - peer learning, conferences, seminars, workshops, joint projects, etc., and linking them to the European framework for the development of education. Members of the initiative are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia. ERISEE also collaborates with a number of other countries and international organisations.

Croatia is also an active member in a number of programmes and projects of the European Training Foundation (ETF). The Foundation supports 29 countries in transition and development to exploit the potential of their human capital through the reform of the education, training and labour market systems in the context of EU external relations policies.

In 2004, the Republic of Croatia, as an observer country, became a member of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (MOF). Croatia is very active in promoting Francophonie and learning French in the Croatian education system.

Many regional links and projects are implemented with the help of European Union educational programmes - Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps.