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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for academic staff working in higher education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.5Conditions of service for academic staff working in higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

In Serbian higher education system, academic staff falls under one of the three following categories:

  • teaching staff
  • researchers
  • associates

There are two types of permanent positions for the teaching staff:

  • full professor (редовни професор) and
  • professor of applied studies (професор струковних студија).

Temporary positions, up to a 5 years fixed-term employment, are:

  • associate professors (ванредни професор),
  • assistant professors (доцент) and
  • lecturers (предавач).

Professors of applied studies and lecturers can teach at vocational studies, while the rest of the abovementioned staff can teach at any academic level.

Researchers are primarily involved with scientific research and they can teach at doctoral level of studies.

Associates can be:

  • assistants (асистент) and
  • teaching assistants (сарадник у настави).

Planning Policy

The Strategy for Education Development in Serbia 2020 and respective Action Plan for Implementation of the Strategy for Development of Education in the Republic of Serbia by the year 2020 encompass several actions that target HR planning in higher education:

  • Improving criteria and procedures for selection and advancement of teaching staff - by establishing common selection procedure for teaching staff;
  • Establishing procedure for the inclusion of teaches from diaspora and foreign teachers;
  • Development of support to teaching staff for teaching and scientific work – through improvement of quality of education and university excellence and developing support for teacher mobility at HEIs;
  • Adjustment of the number of teachers needed within different fields of study.

Entry to the Profession

Recruitment of new teachers in higher education is carried out through an open recruitment procedure. The procedure is conducted by a college of applied studies or a university (upon proposal of its faculty). The higher education institution determines its recruitment policy and specific requirements in accordance with the recommendations of the National Education Council.  General requirements for employing a teacher or associate are:

  • No previous convictions of sexual harassment or abuse, falsification of public documents issued by a higher education institution or bribery within the higher education structures;
  • Appropriate education degree, documented scientific work and ability to perform teaching activities. Degree requirements for specific titles are:
    • Teaching assistant: students graduated from Bachelor degree studies in good standing;
    • Lecturer: Master’s degree or specialisation;
    • Assistant: PhD students in good standing and with strong teaching skills;
    • Professor of Applied Studies: PhD;
    • Assistant Professor: PhD and published scientific papers;
    • Associate Professor: PhD and published scientific papers or other publications of considerable scientific relevance;
    • Full Professor: PhD and an extensive amount of published scientific papers or other publications of considerable scientific relevance in their field of expertise, alongside other contributions to science and higher education quality.
  • Distinguished results in the following evaluations performed by the higher institution (when applicable):
    • Evaluation of scientific/research/art work;
    • Evaluation of engagement in the improvement of teaching and other educational processes;
    • Evaluation of pedagogical work. Students’ opinions may be taken into account when evaluating teachers’ previous pedagogical engagement.    

A visiting professor from a foreign higher institution may be employed without a recruitment procedure.

Professional Status

Higher education teachers and associates are mostly employed on a full-time basis. However, the duration of their employment may vary in accordance with their respective titles:

  • Teaching assistants: fixed-term employment for 1 year, with a possible extension for another year;
  • Assistants: fixed-term employment for 3 years, with a possible extension for another 3 years;
  • Lecturers: fixed-term employment for 5 years;
  • Assistant Professor: fixed-term employment for 5 years;
  • Associate Professor: fixed-term employment for 5 years;
  • Professors of Applied Studies: permanent position;
  • Full Professor: permanent position.

Official Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development data for 2016th show that 22.29% of academic staff has a permanent contract.

Academic staff members are required to act in accordance with the professional code of ethics which is usually issued by each higher education institution.


Remuneration policy at state higher education institutions is defined by:

  • The Law on Higher Education
  • Collective Agreement for Employees in Higher Education
  • Regulation of working condition norms and standards for universities and faculties financed from the state budget
  • Law on State Employees’ Salaries

The Regulation of working condition norms and standards for universities and faculties financed from the state budget determines the criteria and the level of funding to be allocated to HEIs as well as salary scales for their staff.

The norms and coefficients of complexity of work under this Regulation are the basis for the state colleges’ and universities’ financing. However, 's'alaries can significantly vary across faculties and colleges as HEIs have additional revenues besides state budget allocation and the institutions keep the right to invest these additional resources to staff salaries. 

A college or a university employee’s salary can be increased if a person is elected to one of the following leadership positions:

  • Rector of the University - 40%;
  • Vice-Chancellor, Dean of the Faculty - 30%;
  • The director, the head of the Institute, the Secretary General of the University, vice-dean - 20%;
  • The Head of Department, Secretary of the institution, the Head of Accounting, head study, chief of the rector - 10%;
  • The Head of Department /head of a service/ group  - 5%.

​​​​Working Time and Holidays 

A general legal framework for all HEIs in Serbia which is in accordance to the Labour Law, the Collective Contract for Higher Education defines:

  • Working time
    • full-time of 40 hours per week,
    • part-time – less than 40 hours per week and
    • overtime,
  • sabbatical,
  • vacation,
  • types of payed and unpaid leave of academic staff.

HEIs are free to organise working hours of their staff within the general legal boundaries stipulated above.

All other specifics are determined by employees’ contract and class schedules issued by the higher education institution. The institution determines the structure and schedule of teachers’ annual and weekly obligations. Staff members are entitled to a minimum of 20 vacation days per year. These days are used up during collective holidays and during breaks determined by the academic year calendar.

A staff member may also use paid absence days. Situations are determined by the institution (professional development, conferences, illness, maternity leave etc.).

Promotion, Advancement

The Law on Higher Education defines criteria for career advancement for each staff category based on their scientific production (defended PhD thesis, number of national and international conferences, number of published papers etc.). Moving from a lower professional title to the next in the line (from teaching assistant to full professor) is considered career advancement. Career advancement for all staff categories (excluding full professors) is based on: 

  • the supervisor reports on teaching,
  • scientific work and
  • student evaluation.

Academic staff members have to formally undergo a recruitment process in order to earn a higher title. A higher-ranking title brings a salary increase, like in any other case of teacher promotion (e.g. becoming the Head of Department, Dean, a committee member etc.). Furthermore, each year of working experience brings an increase in salary and number of annual leave days, as specified by the Labour Law

Honourable professor emeritus title may be assigned to a retired professor for his/her distinguished scientific work and contribution to higher education. Professor emeritus may be involved in all teaching activities within the second and third degree levels of study. A very small percentage of teachers can get promoted to professor emeritus.

Retirement and Pensions

Teachers may retire at the age of 65 with a minimum of 15 years of work. Teachers who, at the age of 65, have the status of associate professor or full professor have the right to extend their employment for a period of up to 3 years, under the terms of the particular higher institution. After retirement, teachers can keep some of their official engagements such as membership in committees or mentorship, for a period not longer than 2 years.

After retirement, teachers keep their respective titles.

Pensions are determined by the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance.