3.2. HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING
Education strategy 2018-2025 aims to improve management and funding in higher education by establishing the National Council for Higher education and increasing investments and efficiency of use of financial resources allocated to higher education.
Annual public expenditure on higher education accounted for 0.8% of GDP in the last few years. Budget expenditure structure in 2018 shows that half of funds goes to salaries and allowances, 37% relate to goods and services (utilities, repairs, contracting and copyrights agreements with the employees), subsidies and transfers account for 7%, while capital expenditures account for only 6%. There is no data available on private investment in higher education.
Higher Education expenditure as % of GDP
% of GDP
Source: Ministry of Finance and State Statistical Office
Process of revising the higher education funding model launched in 2016 is not yet completed and Macedonian tertiary education is still funded under the line-item budget and input-based, outdated formula inherited from the previous system.
The public funding tracks historical allocations and it is not linked to the university performance. It depends on the number of full-time students enrolled for the first time under the state quota (or so-called state funded or co-financing students) in each academic year, the number of departments, approved study programs, the number and the structure of employees, etc. Funding also depends on the available state funds and the ability of the Rectors to negotiate.
The responsible bodies in the public financing of higher education institutions are:
Ministry of Finance is responsible for budget preparation and execution based on the Government strategic priorities in higher education, its fiscal policy as well as on the strategic plans of the budget users. The Government submits budget proposal /draft budget to the Assembly that adopts the budget.
Pursuant to Article 37-d of the Law on Budgets (Official Gazette no. 64/05, 4/08, 103/08, 156/09, 95/10, 180/11, 171/12, 192/15 и 167/16) following the adoption of the budget, the Ministry of Education and Science prepares and submits annual financial plans (by quarters) to the Treasury for use of the approved budget funds. The beneficiary units (higher education institutions) prepare an annual financial plan (by quarters) for the use of the approved funds and submit it to the budget user through which they are funded.
National Council for Higher Education, Science and Research (National Council) is the highest professional, autonomous body responsible for developing and proposing the National Programme for Higher Education and the National Programme for Scientific and Research Activity to the Assembly for approval. The National Council proposes to the Government Measures and Criteria for Funding of Higher Education, of the Scientific and Research Activity. Not later than May 15th every year, the National Council proposes to the Minister of education the total amount of state budget allocations to universities/HEIs for the next budget year (Article 123), based on the annual financial plans of the higher education institutions and in accordance with the criteria for higher education funding. The National Council also proposes to the Government policies and measures for different categories of students - releasing of disabled persons from co-financing for their studying, for incentivising the talented students as well as for merit-based scholarships for (outstanding) students etc.
The University Senate as highest university governing bodyrecommends to the National Council for Higher Education the amount for the tuition fee, adopts Annual Financial Plan, Annual Financial Statement and Final Annual Financial Report of the University as well as adopts an investment programme of the University.
Teaching and Scientific Council of the university unit or of the higher education institution adopts the financial plan and the annual account (annual financial report) as part of the single financial plan of the University and the consolidated annual account of the public University.
2 Financial autonomy
The funding for public higher education institutions (HEIs) and studies of public interest are allocated from the budget of North Macedonia and other sources defined by law. As stipulated in the Law on Higher Education (Article 10) public higher education institutions has financial autonomy to use the funds received from co-financing from students and/or tuition fee from students, and from other types of own revenues. The use of funds is regulated with a General Act of the public higher education institution or of its unit and it doesn’t restrict the freedom of the unit to use the funds from the separate accounts. Public university units with and without legal entity status have accounts for the state budget funds but can also have one or more separate accounts where they can freely use the funds raised from other sources. All HEIs participate in the financing of activities of common interest to universities.
Higher education institutions may establish funds and set up other forms of organisation (from their own revenue, from donations and from other sources for the purposes of performing scientific and research, artistic, publishing and applicative activities) and they can autonomously decide on the accumulation of financial means.
The annual financial plans of the higher education institutions are starting base for public funding which include 1) the number of students to be enrolled with co-payment and tuition; 2) actual costs for the implementation of each study programme in accordance with its specificities; 3) current operating costs of the institution; 4) Investment and development costs. The current costs (utilities, maintenance, equipment and supplies) for implementation of the study programmes and for operation of the public higher education institutions are fully covered from the state budget.
Higher education institutions can obtain funding from domestic and international legal and natural persons that can be entitled to the tax and customs relief stipulated by the Law on Higher Education.
In accordance with the Law on Higher education (Article 125) and the General act of Higher education institutions, the HEIs may obtain funding from own revenues from: Co-funding; Tuition fees; Provision of education services to legal and natural domestic and foreign persons; Sales of scientific and vocational services and products to domestic and foreign natural and legal persons;- Interest rates; Revenues from copyrights owned by the higher education institution; Revenues from performing artistic activities; Legacies, gifts, endowments, contributions; and other sources. State funds must be spent within the current fiscal year, whereas the funding from own revenues may be accumulated and carried over to the next fiscal year.
Higher education institutions are obliged to invest at least 40% of the funding from co-payment in development of the teaching, scientific and research and/or artistic activity and mobility.
Real estate and other assets of the public universities and public higher education institutions as well as funds from legates, donations, gifts and inheritance are an asset to the university. Higher education institutions can manage the assets and utilize the items, the financial resources, exercise the intellectual ownership rights and other material rights as a result of higher education and scientific and research work under the Law provisions and the university Statute.
The real estate and other assets obtained on the basis of legacies and gifts are the property of the higher education institution.The public HEI may can sell property with government approval and can use the funds for investments, maintenance and equipment.
University units are obliged to maintain a website for accountability purposes, where they have to mandatorily post their annual account and the annual report, not later than 10 days after its adoption.
Deans of the HEI and the university Rectors are responsible for the compliance to the Law, Statute, General Act or Decision of the Faculty//University and they are obliged to report to the Teaching and Scientific Council and to the University Senate respectfully. For the purposes of more efficient prevention and protection from corruption, the University Senate elects authorised person to accept corruption files from amongst tenure professors at the University (Article 107 from the HE Law 2018). The University Council (a new body consisted of members from the University Senate, from students’ assembly, from the founder and the representative employers’ organisation) oversees the work of the university and the effective use of the staff and other resources and annually informs the university Senate and the Ministry of Education (Article 104 of the HE Law 2018). A supervision over the constitutionality and legality of the general acts of higher education institutions is done by the Minister of education, whereas the inspection supervision under the Law on Higher Education is performed by the State Education Inspectorate. Financial audits are conducted by the State Audit Office that functions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance, with a government budget and civil servants’ status auditors.
3 Fees within public higher education
Based on performance in upper secondary education and Matura exams results, Macedonian first-cycle students start their studies in higher education either as “state funded” or “self-funded” students.
The category of state funded students include better performing students who co-finance their studding costs and pay administrative charges ranging from 7,650 MKD (≈ 125 EUR) for dispersed study programs provided in other training locations (usually in smaller towns) to 13.800 MKD (≈ 224 EUR) for study programs at the main university campuses (13.02.2021 an exchange rate of 61.69 denars are used for these calculation purposes).
Following categories of students are not charged co-financing by the public higher education institutions: unemployed persons without parents up to the age of 26; persons with level I and II disability; disabled war/Army veterans; unemployed persons raised in foster care homes for abandoned children up to the age of 26; members of the security forces’ families and other persons, as defined in the Government Decree adopted upon a proposal of the National Council. These students are enrolled in a special quota and their number should not exceed 10% of the number of the fulltime students in the program of study. Several universities provide free tuition for highest ranked students or for some programs (for instance, Macedonian language at the University of Stip).
Self-funded students pay tuition fee in the amount of 26.100 MKD (≈ 440 EUR) annually. These students can change their funding status during the studies based on their academic performance and vice versa, state funded students who haven’t met the academic standards may lose their publicly funded place and pay the tuition fees. The tuition fee determines the costs for studying for one academic year, that is, for obtaining 60 ECTS credits.
Part-time first-cycle students pay fee as full time fee payers in the amount of 26.100 MKD (≈ 440 EUR) annually (data for academic year 2020/2021).
Annual fees of full time students enrolled in short-cycle higher education also ranges from 7,650 MKD (≈ 125 EUR) to 13.800 MKD (≈ 224 EUR).
The Government decides on the number of state funded students enrolled in first study cycle at public HEIs on the proposal of the public HEIs. Upon the prior consent of the Government, the National Council determines the maximum amount of co-financing costs and of the tuition fee for students at the first cycle of studies at public HEIs, while the fees for the second and third cycle of studies are set by the universities. The higher education institutions decide on the number of students enrolled with tuition fee, based on the capacity established by their accreditation decision.
All students enrolled at second and third study cycle are self-funded and pay tuition fee. The tuition fee represents the money required for covering the costs of studying. The tuition fee at the public universities ranges from 19.950 MKD (≈ 323 EUR) to 101.400 MKD (≈ 1.648 EUR) per academic year for the second cycle of studies (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2018), and from 5,150 to 7,000 EUR for the third study cycle, depending of the university and the study program. Fees may differentiate based on other criteria, including study fields and language of study -study programs in English language costs more, or study programs in natural or medical science that entails higher studying costs for laboratories, practical exams etc.
Students who are foreign nationals are enrolled in studies at public higher education institutions under the same conditions as Macedonian nationals, but pay tuition fees set by the university, which is generally significantly higher than the funds paid by Macedonian students. The Government decides on the additional quotas for admission of students who belong to the non-majority communities in the country.
4 Financial support for learners’ families
There are no student loans, tax benefits for students’ parents or family allowances.
5 Financial support for learners
The students are entitled to the following support in the form of grant/scholarship that does not need to be paid back:
- Merit based Scholarships intended to:1) students studying at first, second and third study cycle in the top 100 ranked universities according to the latest published list of the World Class University Center at Shanghai Jio Tong University in the fields of technical sciences, architecture, civil engineering, mathematics, international law, economics and finance, physics, biology, chemistry and genetics; 2) students studying at Technical and Medical Faculties with cumulative GPA of 8.5; 3) students studying Social Sciences and Arts with cumulative GPA of 9.0; 4) students studying Informatics with cumulative GPA of 9.0;
- Need based scholarships intended to:1) social categories of full time students enrolled at first study cycle; 2) Roma students enrolled at first study cycle at public and private universities in the country; 3) students studying at natural, math, technical, biotechnical and medical sciences, with cumulative GPA of 7.0; 4) students studying math, physics and chemistry with cumulative GPA of 7.0; 5) students at the First study Cycle in the areas of Fine Art, Cinematography, and Film Production, Dramatic Arts and Music at the highest ranked universities in the field of fine arts abroad;
- Scholarships for foreign nationals of interest for North Macedonia (students of Macedonian origin living in Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Turkey, Romania, Montenegro and Greece), pursuant to the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia no. 45-4822/1 of 25.07.2019 (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia” No. 154 of 29.07.2019). The scholarship is awarded for first cycle studies as provided by the Statute of the Higher Education Institution in North Macedonia (University "St. Cyril and Methodius" Skopje, University "St. Kliment Ohridski" Bitola, University "Goce Delcev", Mother Teresa University Skopje and University of Information Sciences and Technologies "St. Apostol Pavle" Ohrid);
- Students of all levels of higher education who are without parents, blind, deaf, first and second degree disabled, mothers with children up to the age of six and those hospitalized have the right to special benefits provided by the Statute of the higher education institution;
The amount of need based scholarship is 3,300 MKD per month, for a period of 9 months or 29,700 MKD for the entire academic year. The scholarship amount for ICT students is 6,050 MKD per month, or 54,450 MKD annually. The scholarship amount for students studying physics, chemistry and mathematics is 162 000 MKD per academic year.
A total of 1,470 or 3.7% of first cycle students received need-based scholarships/grants, and a total of 1,4283 or 3,6% of first cycle students received merit based scholarships (grant) in academic year 2019/20. 29.700 MKD (≈482 EUR) is the most common annual amount paid for the need based grant, while the merit-based grant ranges from 29.700 MKD (≈482 EUR) to 54.450 MKD (≈883 EUR) annually (Eurydice, 2020).
The Government of the North Macedonia may decide on special benefits for students, such as student credit card discounts, free city transport, etc., with the funds provided from the state budget. The students are entitled to the following support & services of the Student’s standard:
- Subsidized Student Dormitory accommodation, food and healthcare intended to students who leave outside the place of studying. Distribution of the total number of available places in the students’ dormitories is done in three groups:
First group: 40% of the total number of available places are intended to students whose total family income is up to the net minimum wage salary in the country and for whom the total family income is above the net minimum wage in the country, i.e. for shildren without parents and parental care; children with special needs; children of beneficiaries of social financial assistance and permanent financial assistance; children of a single parent; children of unemployed parents and children of beneficiaries of termination of employment for business reasons.
Second group: 25% of the total number of available places in dormitories are intended to students with high GPA;
Third group: 35% of the total number of available places in the dormitories are intended to full-time students enrolled in public and private universities and higher education institutions in the country that do not belong to the first two groups; 20% of the total number of available places in the student dormitories are provided for students who will be enrolled for the first time in public and private universities and higher education institutions in the North Macedonia. Government scholarship recipients - students of Macedonian origin, international students studying at universities and higher education institutions in country, students under the CEEPUS program, and students under bilateral agreements are also entitled to Accommodation and food at student dormitories;
- Subsidized Student Transportation- free city and suburban public transportation for all students studying at public universities in the country. The City of Skopje grants Public Transportation Company (JSP) subsidies and free cards to undergraduate students at state universities. The Government adopted a decision for subsidized rail transport for students every second weekend in the month;
- Subsidized Student Meal in the amount of 120 MKD (2 EUR) per day or 2,400 MKD (approximately 40 EUR) per month intended to all full-time students studying at public and private universities in Macedonia (Draft Law on Subsidized Student Meal approved by the Macedonian Assembly on 07.02.2020). All students are entitled to subsidized student meal every working day from 8-20 h., with the exception of the state, religious holidays and non-working days;
6 Private education
Private higher education institutions have financial autonomy in using their own revenue in a manner that has been stipulated in their Statutes and in the Law on Higher Education.
A private university, a private-public university, or a private single higher vocational school, determines the tuition fee for its students. The decision on the number of students enrolling in a private higher education institution is made by the Teaching-Scientific Council, but the number of students cannot be higher than the number determined in the accreditation decision (and capacity) of the private HEI. The decision on the number of students enrolling in third cycle studies of a private higher education institution is subject to approval by the Government.
The tuition fee at private universities ranges from 500 to 3,000 EUR per academic semester for the first study cycle, from 2,000-3,000 per academic semester for the second cycle and up to 7,200 EUR for the third cycle doctoral studies. Since only the first seven universities from the national ranking list of universities are allowed to provide doctoral studies, the latter presents the range of tuition fee paid by doctoral students of the American College and the International Balkan University, both private HEI and SEEU at Tetovo, public-private university that are among the first seven on the last available ranking list.
Most of the private HEIs offer student loans through the cooperation with the commercial banks. Few of the biggest private universities (FON, IBU and SEEU at Tetovo) have their own campuses and provide accommodation and meals for the students. Students studying at private universities are entitled to state scholarships, but are not entitled to subsidized public transportation. Private HEIs by themselves offer limited number of full scholarships or financial aid (decreased tuition fee) for the best high school students to attract them to enroll.
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2020. National Student Fee and Support Systems in
European Higher Education – 2020/21. Eurydice – Facts and Figures. Luxembourg: Publications
Office of the European Union. available at:
Ministry of Finance, Law on Budgets (Official Gazette no. 64/05, 4/08, 103/08, 156/09, 95/10, 180/11, 171/12, 192/15 и 167/16) available at: https://aa.mk/WBStorage/Files/Zakon_budzetite.pdf
Mistry of Education and Science, Macedonian HE ranking 2015/16 available at: