Branches of study
Bachelor academic studies are organised at universities (more precisely, faculties or academies of arts that are members of universities) and colleges of academic studies, and can last either three or four years (180 or 240 ECTS). Bachelor applied studies (Bachelor Appl.) last for three years (180 ECTS) and are organised at universities or colleges of applied studies. Upon completion of this level of studies, the student receives a Bachelor degree (or in case of applied studies Bachelor Appl.). A Bachelor study programme can include a final thesis that the student has to defend at the end of his/her studies, yet this depends on the specific study programme curriculum.
Main branches of higher education studies in Serbia are:
- technical and technology sciences;
- humanities and social sciences;
- natural sciences and mathematics;
- medical sciences;
- interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary sciences.
The completion of a (four-year) secondary education programme and relevant diploma acquisition are a general prerequisite for joining bachelor or integrated study programmes. Specific admission conditions and procedures are individually regulated by higher education institutions.
All candidates applying for the specific study programme are ranked based on the general achievement in the secondary education and results of the entrance exam. Higher education institutions are free to design entrance exams. For specific study programmes (manly within ISCED 2.1 Arts and ISCED 8.1 Sports) an aptitude test may be applied as an addition or alternative to the entrance exam.
Most institutions organise entrance exams that are usually held in early July and early September (the latter option applies to institutions which still have vacancies for new students). The ranking of candidates depends on both the entrance exam results and success in the previous level of education.The number of new admissions is individually determined by each higher education institution, but such a number may not exceed the one specified in the work permit.For higher education institutions whose founder is the Republic, the Government prescribes the number of students to be enroled in the first year of study programmes financed from the State budget.
Higher education institutions are autonomous in the creation of the contents of their respective educational curricula. However, there are some general rules regarding the curricula prescribed by the Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance – in every curriculum the list of compulsory and elective subjects should be indicated, as well as their descriptions, the number of ECTS they carry and the number of lessons they include.
For certain professions (primary school teachers, physicians, pharmacists and similar occupations) some elements of the study programmes are broadly defined by national regulations (the Law on the Education System Foundations, Law on Medical Protection and Law on Medicines). For example, the curriculum for undergraduate teacher studies needs to include 30 ECTS credits of pedagogical and methodological subjects and 6 ECTS of school practice.
At the majority of HEIs in Serbia, lectures are held for large groups of students. The Commission for Accreditation and Quality Assurance sets the rules and regulations prescribing maximum numbers of students attending a lecture for every level and every branch of studies (technical and technology sciences, humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, medical sciences, arts). The same regulation specifies maximum numbers of students at workshops and exercises – which are generally held in smaller groups.
There are no specific rules for first cycle studies regarding the teaching methods. Higher education teachers have to organise their lectures in compliance with the curriculum but the teaching methods they should use are not prescribed.
Teaching materials such as books and audio-visual materials are commonly used in the teaching process but they are not always provided to students free of charge. Nevertheless, students are expected to refer to those materials when preparing their exams.
Progression of Students
Students can move on to the next year of studies once they have completed their obligations in terms of obtaining the sufficient number of ECTS. State-funded students have to obtain at least 48 ECTS in order to remain within the state-financed regime during the next year of studies. Self-financed students have to obtain at least 37 ECTS in order to be admitted to the next year of studies.
The list of obligatory and optional subjects is prescribed in the study programme. The student can pass a particular exam at any time from the moment the lectures related to it are finished, up to the start of the next year lectures. If the student fails to pass an obligatory exam before the start of his/her next year lectures, he or she has to enrol in the same subject again. In the case of an optional subject, the student can either enrol in the same subject again or opt for another one.
A maximum number of exam passage attempts is not determined. The number of exam terms per school year is 5. In the event of three successive exam failures, the student has the right to take the exam in front of the commission.
While cooperation between higher education institutions and employers is not formally regulated in Serbia, this issue has been recognised as a very important one in the recent years.
Some higher education institutions have included internship programmes into their study curricula.
Some universities organise internships for students in cooperation with state authorities, in order for students to experience work in public administration.
On the other hand, there are some companies, mostly in the IT sector, which appreciate the competences of students graduating from certain faculties and offer them jobs immediately after – and at times even before – graduation.
In addition, some higher education institutions have career guidance centres, which help students to find jobs or improve their qualifications in order to increase their employability.
The National Qualification Framework is under construction. The first phase was completed with a draft NQF for primary and secondary education. It has been envisaged that, once completed, the NQF should include all levels of education in Serbia.
The success of students is continually evaluated. The student can earn a maximum of 100 points by completing his/her pre-examination obligations and relevant exams.
A ratio of points earned through pre-examination obligations and those earned at the exam is determined in the study programme. The minimum number of points that pre-examination obligations may carry is 30 and the maximum is 70 points out of the final 100.
Student’s exam performance is expressed from grades 5 (failed) to 10 (excellent).Higher education institution may also establish other, non-numerical grading systems by relating the ratio of such marks to the one expressed through grades from 5 to 10.The general act of a certain higher education institution includes precise regulations in terms of exam taking and grading procedures.
The authority responsible for certification is the higher education institution. Upon completion of the first level of higher education, the student receives a diploma with his/her relevant professional title, average degree and the number of ECTS earned. The student also receives a diploma supplement, which contains information regarding the level, type and content of the studies successfully finished.
ENIC/NARIC Serbia (European Network of Information Centres in the European Region/National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union) regulates the procedures for recognition of diplomas acquired abroad, for purposes of employment. Recognition of diplomas for purposes of continuing education is decided upon by the higher education institutions in question.