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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice



12 June 2022

Key Features of the Educational System


Early Childhood Education and Care

Early Childhood Education and Care in Croatia is funded and managed by local authorities. Central educational authorities provide legislative guidance, accreditation and monitoring of the educational programs.

In school year prior to the enrolling into primary school, children are obliged to attend the pre-school program, provided by kindergartens and primary schools.


Primary and Secondary Education

Primary and lower secondary education is organised as a single structure system, starting at the age of 7 and consisting of eight years of compulsory schooling.

Upper secondary education is not compulsory, but almost all students do enrol into the general or vocational upper secondary courses upon completing lower primary level. It includes three strands:

  • generalist programs
  • 4-5 year vocational programs
  • 3-year vocational programs.

Generalist programs prepare students for entry into higher education. Completing 4-year vocational programs enables students to either enter the labor market or pursue to higher education. Completion of 3-year vocational programs leads to the vocational career.


Educational Options for National Minorities

In primary and secondary education segment, special care is dedicated to the possibilities for education of students of national minorities in their mother tongue.

Hence a number of schools – almost fifty - provide tuition in Serbian, Italian, Czech and Hungarian languages. Just as national minority students can enrol into regular schools providing tuition in Croatian, students of Croatian nationality can enrol into schools providing tuition in some of the minority languages.


Higher Education

Higher education is provided by the universities, polytechnics and colleges.

Public universities provide the majority of higher educational offer in Croatia. Croatian Constitution guarantees organizational autonomy and academic freedom in teaching and research of higher education institutions. Most of funding for public universities is provided by the central government, covering such items as:

  • salaries for academic staff
  • capital investment
  • running costs for academic institutions
  • research funds
  • student subsistence and tuition fees.

First year of study at both bachelor and master level at public universities is free of charge for all students. Student participation in tuition costs in subsequent study years depends on their previous study record.

Polytechnics are most often also publicly funded. However, their founders and funders are regional and local authorities, rather than the central government.

Colleges are almost exclusively privately funded higher educational institutions.


Stages of the Educational System


Early Childhood Education and Care

Children between 6 months and 3 years attend the "jaslice" programs, whereas older children attend "dječji vrtić".

Last year of pre-primary education ("program predškole") is compulsory for all children.


Primary and Lower Secondary Education

Primary and lower secondary education is organised as a single structure system and delivered by the network of elementary schools ("osnovna škola").

It is compulsory, starting at the age of 7 and lasting 8 years.


Upper Secondary Education

Upper secondary education starts at the age 15 and lasts between 3 and 5 years. It includes three strands:

  • 4-year generalist programmes ("gimnazija")
  • 4-5-year vocational programmes ("četverogodišnji/petogodišnji strukovni program")
  • 3-year vocational programmes ("trogodišnji strukovni program").

These programes are delivered by the network of "middle schools" ("srednja škola").

Generalist programs end with compulsory national state matura exam. Students completing 4-5 year vocational programs can also take this exam if they wish so, as it serves as the entry exam to higher education.


Higher Education

Higher education is provided by the universities, polytechnics and colleges.

Universities offer bachelor, master and doctoral programs. Polytechnics offer professional bachelor and professional master programs. Colleges offer only professional bachelor progams.


Structure of the National Education System

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Source: Eurydice 2021/22

Useful Links

Croatian education system is centrally managed by the Ministry of Science and Education (MSE). Other national public bodies involved in the regulation, development and quality control of the educational sector in Croatia are:



Common European Reference Tools Provided by the Eurydice Network