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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of private education


2.Organisation and governance

2.4Organisation of private education

Last update: 27 November 2023





Private early childhood and school education


Kindergartens can be public (founded by the Republic of Croatia, cities and municipalities) and private. All provisions of the Preschool Education Act apply equally to all kindergartens, regardless whether they are public or private. The state partially takes part in co-financing of private education programmes, and capital construction up to the minimum financial amount.

According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics data for the pedagogical year 2021/2022, out of 1708 ECEC institution founders, 355 refer to other legal and natural persons (individuals, associations, enterprises). Stemming from this data, the share of private ECEC institutions in the mentioned pedagogical year was 20.8%.

Private and religious kindergartens are subject to the same legal provisions and standards as kindergartens founded by local and regional self-government units (LGUs). The exceptions are provisions related to staff salaries which are determined by founders. These provisions vary both in public and private ECEC institutions.

Unlike the higher share of public subsidies for public kindergartens, public subsidies account for about half of the income in private and religious kindergartens. Between 2016 and 2018 public subsidies accounted, on average, for 47% of income in private kindergartens and 53.8% in religious kindergartens, compared to 78.9% in public ones.

There is a steady yet slow trend of increasing enrolment in private ECEC centres, with 76% of the capacity added between 2012 and 2018 being private (compared with 34% between 2004 and 2012). By 2018, almost one in five children attended private kindergartens. The share of children attending private kindergartens increased from 15.2% in 2012 to 18.8% in 2018. The trend is evident in all the development categories, but the share is slightly higher in more developed and non-rural LGUs (How to provide a place in kindergarten for all? Options for financing the ECEC system, UNICEF 2020).

There are also differences in ways of co-financing public and private kindergartens: public subsidies account for 47% of income in private kindergartens, compared to 79% in public kindergartens.

Since LGUs are less involved in co-financing of private kindergartens, the amount of parental participation in private kindergartens may be significantly higher than in public kindergartens.

Parental participation in the price of the programme is an important aspect of the financing of ECEC. There are also significant discrepancies between LGUs, where some require payment of 45% of the declared economic price and few do not charge any amount.

Primary education is carried out as public and private. Primary school, secondary school and student dormitory (hereinafter referred to as: school institution) are established by a founding deed issued by the founder in accordance with the provisions of the Institutions Act and the Primary and Secondary School Education Act.


According to the Primary and Secondary School Education Act, if the founder of the school is a legal or natural person, he is obliged to provide the necessary funds for financing:


  • salaries with contributions
  • other expenses for school workers
  • material and financial expenses of the school and other necessary funds for the work of the school.


As regards the process of establishing a school institution, founder of the school institution submits a request to the Ministry of Science and Education in order to obtain a decision that assesses that the founding act complies with the law. After the Ministry passes a decision on the assessment of the conformity of the act of establishment with the law, the temporary director of the school institution submits to the Ministry a request for the start of work. Such a request is submitted no later than three months before the planned start of work of the school institution, and it contains:


  • temporary statute
  • a list of experts required to carry out the education programme aligned with the programmes adopted by the Ministry or aligned with the regulations of the state/institution where the programme is implemented
  • data on the space and equipment and the method of securing them
  • proof that the funds needed by the institution for establishment and start of work have been secured and the method of obtaining them
  • evidence of the fulfillment of technical, health and environmental conditions for the performance of activities
  • the opinion of the competent international association or organisation, if the school works according to an international programme or an alternative school programme
  • evidence of meeting the conditions established by special regulations if the high school implements a nautical or marine engineering programme.


In order to carry out the procedure for determining the fulfilment of the conditions for the start of work of the school institution, the Ministry appoints an expert commission that determines whether the school institution meets the prescribed conditions for the start of work, and the request is decided by a decision. After the Ministry issues a decision on the start of work, the founder submits an application for registration of the school institution in the court register.



Private tertiary education


In accordance with the Act on Higher Education and Scientific Activity, a higher education institution is a legal entity that can be a university, faculty, art academy or polytechnic. The basic general act of a higher education institution is the statute. A higher education institution is established as a public or private higher education institution.


Public higher education institutions are established by the Republic of Croatia by law. A private higher education institution is founded by a natural or legal person.


The public funding of higher education institutions is regulated by the  Act on Higher Education and Scientific Activity, stipulating that the activity of higher education institutions is funded by the founder’s resources, assigned revenue and own resources.


The founder’s resources include:

  1. funds from the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia for financing the activity of a higher education institution whose founder is the Republic of Croatia (public higher education institution)
  2. funds from the budget of a local or regional self-government unit for financing the activity of higher education institutions founded by the local or regional self-government unit prior to entry into force of the mentioned Act
  3. founder’s resources for financing the activity of a private higher education institution.