Types of institutions
Based on the National Vocational Qualifications Register (NVQR) developed in 1993, ISCED 4 level qualifications were available in high numbers. Typically, these qualifications could be obtained in one or two years following the upper secondary school leaving examination. For the most part, they were qualifications related to management or technician-type vocational programmes. In 2020, the NVQR was replaced by Register of Vocational Occupations, as a result of a major simplification of the NVQR.
Post-secondary education is available in upper secondary vocational schools and Technicums after the upper secondary school leaving exam. These types of programmes last for one or two years. The programme lasts for one year if the student continues his/her studies in the same sector of his/her previous vocational education, for students who come from upper secondary grammar schools following the secondary school leaving exam, the programme lasts for two years.
The majority of upper secondary vocational schools and Technicums offers some type of post-secondary vocational training programme. Although the number of post-secondary programmes, overall, is approximately 100, not even the most significant vocational secondary institutions provide more than about 5-10 such programmes. A larger variety of programmes is available in county seats or in larger cities. In such schools, some type of vocational training is offered from almost every trade group but not all types of qualifications are available. Therefore, if a student decides on choosing a specific vocation and is not satisfied with a similar one, he/she might have to commute or live in a student dormitory. This is relatively rare; students usually choose vocations from the available spectrum.
Admission requirements and choice of school
The entry-level prerequisite of post-secondary education is the upper secondary school leaving exam. In case of some vocations, a further requirement is professional and/or medical competence.
It is quite typical that post-secondary programmes are organised mainly for students who had previously attended the same institution and had obtained their secondary school-leaving certificate in that institution. Usually, they constitute the majority of students on post-secondary level. However, admission is also possible for students coming from other secondary schools. Most frequently, the number of students in post-secondary classes is relatively small since many students of the graduating classes continue their studies in higher education. Besides, others may choose a different vocation. It may happen that programmes do not even start as a result of a low number of applicants. Theoretically, the institution may determine an entry exam. It is the school head’s right to decide about admissions on the basis of students’ documents handed in during the application process. Students are not admitted to post-secondary programmes only on rare occasions. These may include the following:
- the student could not meet some formal requirements (such as medical competence, for example);
- the minimum number of students—that is, 6 applicants—is not available.
Legal redresses in connection with admission are recorded in Section 20/2012 (VIII.31). Ministry of Human Capacities Decree.
Age levels and grouping of students
Students in post-secondary education are minimum 18 years old since this is the earliest age when they can obtain the secondary school-leaving certificate. In full-time programmes, the maximum age is 25. The most typical age of students is 19-21 years.
It happens quite frequently that only 8-10 students are admitted for a certain post-secondary programme. In such cases, usually two such groups are joined together in order to form a bigger class. If the two programmes of the joined groups are markedly different, it is possible that the whole class studies together only on a few occasions during the week. Bigger classes with 20-24 student can only be found in the capital and in larger cities in the most popular vocational programmes.
Organisation of the school year
The schedule of the school year is determined by the Minister responsible for education (Ministry of Human Capacities) in a decree for each school year. It applies to all schools and school-maintaining organisations on a mandatory basis. Based on this centrally established schedule, schools are authorised to set out the local schedule of the given school year, which is laid out in the school’s work plan. Decision on this is made by the school management but the school board, the parents’ organisation and the Student Council have the right to comment on it.
The local schedule of the school year specifies the dates of working days without teaching (the number of which is regulated by the Minister’s decree) along with the purposes for which such days are used, the duration of breaks, the dates of anniversary/commemoration days prescribed by law and those specific to the given school, the dates of celebrating national and school holidays, the dates of student assemblies as well as the dates of teachers’ meetings. The school and the student dormitory must mutually notify one another about the adopted local schedule of the given school year.
Schools must organise their work in the framework of school years split into two semesters (terms). The first and last school days of each school year are always determined by the Minister’s relevant decree. As a general rule, the school year starts on the first day or on the first work day of September and it finishes on 15 June or, if that is not a workday, on the last workday preceding 15 June. The decree determines the actual number of school days (it changes between 179 and 182 days) and it specifies that the teachers’ body may use 7-8 working days without teaching for various pedagogical purposes. The programme of one such day may be determined by the student council.
In a given school year, students must be provided with three longer holiday periods; on two occasions, the minimum number of days has to be at least 6, on one occasion, this number has to be at least 4 days. The decree sets out the dates of the autumn, winter and spring breaks. Under certain conditions, schools may differ from this but they cannot modify the starting and closing dates of the school year. According to the decree, the Minister responsible for education publishes de dates of the vocational and qualifying examinations in upper secondary vocational schools and vocational schools for SEN students on the website of the Educational Authority by the last working day of September 2021.
In several vocations of post-secondary education (such as car mechanics, beauticians), students pursue their studies in a dual system with a student contract. Students participating in the practical part of vocational training with a student contract have to be provided at least 30 days of holiday per school year. This number further increases by 5 days if the student has not passed age 19. Before the vocational qualification exam, students have to be provided with at least 10 days for preparation.
Organisation of the school day and week
According to a central regulation, teaching in schools consists of five-day school weeks. Saturdays and Sundays are rest days with no classes held. Students are also entitled to rest days (with no classes) on public holidays. The last day of the school year must be followed by a summer vacation of at least 30 consecutive days. Schools are open on all weekdays throughout the calendar year - even during teaching holidays and the summer vacation when an administrative stand-by type of work schedule is adopted. At the request of the school board and the Student Council, school weeks may be organised on six days a week with the agreement of the organisation maintaining the school. In such cases, school days include Saturdays as well; this solution, however, is not typically adopted.
Students participating in post-secondary education have all passed age 18. For them, the number of theoretical lessons per day cannot exceed 7 classes. If practical training is combined with theoretical education on the given day, the number of classes cannot be more than 8. Classes as well as extracurricular activities must be separated by breaks. The order of classes, breaks and the time of beginning the school day are set out in the School Rules. The first lesson may only start 45 minutes earlier than the regular beginning time of classes but this requires the consent of both the parents’ organisation and the Student Council. Breaks between classes are usually 10-minute long, sometimes 5 or 15-minute long. If the daily practical training time exceeds four and a half hours (which is usually the case), one break of minimum 30 minutes must be provided for students.
The school may organise extra-curricular activities but, on this level, it is relatively rare. Despite all this, post-secondary students may take part in extra-curricular programmes organised mainly for secondary school students (such as sport clubs or drama groups).
The typical system of a 5-day week on post-secondary level:
Theoretical and practical classes in the morning (starting and ending time)
Theoretical and practical classes (after lunch)
8 a.m.-2 p.m.
(it may start at 7.15 a.m. and may end at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m.)
1-hour long between 12 and 2 p.m.
Optional, 1/2-2/3 p.m.
Optional, 2.30-6 p.m.