Definition of the Target Group(s)
According to the Law on Students' Standard in Upper Secondary and Higher Education, all students who have a “state-financed” status have a right to some of the specific support measures. Additionally, students from vulnerable social groups (students from economically disadvantaged families, single-parent families, students without parents, Roma national minority students, students with disabilities, SEN students, students with chronic diseases, students whose parents have disappeared or have been kidnapped in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija and the former SFRY, refugees and displaced persons, returnees under the readmission agreement, deported students, etc.), exercise the right to support measures like other students, but following different criteria and implementing different affirmative measures, which are prescribed by the Minister of Education in accordance with the law. Students from vulnerable social groups can receive financial support for studies or have the right to study without paying fees. In addition, students with disabilities, Roma students and students who finished upper secondary school in another country can apply for tuition fee exemption through affirmative measures within an official call for enrollment.
Specific Support Measures
Financial support for learners is defined by the Law on Student Standard, whereby students are entitled to the following:
- subsidised meals,
- grants for talented students.
Funding for the above-mentioned support measures is provided by the Government and the benefits are intended for students who study at public universities and whose studies are funded from the state budget. All the measures mentioned above are explained in the following paragraphs.
The state subsidises accommodation and meals for all students at public institutions who are funded from the state budget. In addition, subsidised accommodation in dorms is granted to those studying out of their place of residence. There are 8 student centres in Serbia which provide both subsidised accommodation and meals (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš, Kragujevac, Subotica, Čačak, Bor and Užice). Students from private universities and those who are not funded from the state budget can get accommodation in a student dorm only on condition that there are vacant places left and at the economic prices. Approximately 6.83% of students were accommodated in dorms in the academic year 2021/22 (based on the annual surveys on enrolled students at all cycles of studies at the beginning of the academic year with the exception of senior undergraduate students).
The right to meals in student restaurants has been granted to all students who have enrolled in the current academic year at one of the higher education institutions in Serbia. Eligible students whose residence is not in the place of study have the right to three meals a day. Students who have been supported from the budget of the Republic of Serbia (and have a “state-financed” status) have the right to meals at budget prices. Students who finance their education can use the food service in student restaurants at economical prices.
Only first-cycle students are eligible to be loan beneficiaries. Students who use student loans are obliged to repay them unless they achieve excellent academic results, in which case they can be granted partial or full loan remission. It means that student loans are non-refundable for those who graduate on time with an 8.5 or a higher average grade (out of 10). In order to qualify for a loan, apart from having a “state-financed” status at a public university as the initial condition, students are further on ranked according to their study success (number of ECTS gained during the previous course of studies, or secondary school achievement for first-year students), and according to their socio-economic status.
The total amount of the loan is EUR 716 and it is paid in 10 monthly instalments. In the 2020/21 academic year, 4.9% of students were loan beneficiaries.
Student grants in Serbia are merit-based and are awarded by the Ministry of Education to „state-financed“ students with excellent accomplishments (the average grade has to be 9 or higher (out of 10). First-cycle and second-cycle students are eligible to be grant beneficiaries. Only students in public higher education institutions and only those in the “budget” quota are entitled to apply for grants. The total amount of the grant is EUR 716 and it is paid in 10 monthly instalments. In the first-cycle and second-cycle, 3,5% of students were merit-based grant beneficiaries. Grants and loans cannot be combined.
There are additional affirmative measures for awarding grants to students from vulnerable groups. These grants are part of the general Competition and the ranking of students from vulnerable groups is still merit-based, with additional needs-based criteria such as proof of disability, a certificate or proof of socio-economic status etc.
Additionally, special grants are awarded from the state budget and through the Ministry of Youth and Sports for outstanding accomplishments to students from the Young Talents Fund. The fund was established in 2008 by the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The Fund awards grants to university students and upper secondary school pupils every year. In 2022, 1050 bachelor students, 500 master students and 1198 upper secondary school students were awarded a grant. This type of grant is available only to students of up to 25 years of age for the first cycle and of up to27 years of age for the second cycle. Students funded under this grant programme are obliged to remain in the country for a certain number of years following graduation. The monthly amount awarded through this grant programme is approximately 100 EUR per student.
The total amount of the grant provided by the Young Talents Fund is EUR 2 696 and it is paid in 10 equal monthly instalments.
State universities, provincial and local authorities in university’ centres provide funds for supporting talented and the most successful students. Students who apply for this type of grant are not eligible to receive other grants from the state budget (such as state grants and state loans described above). The ranking is strictly merit-based. Many local self-governments which are not in university centres provide students from their municipalities/cities with local grants and loans for studying in another city, as well as other benefits, but there are no systematic data on the range and type of grants, loans, and scholarships provided.
In addition to the above-mentioned support mechanisms as defined by the Law on Higher Education, all students are entitled to subsidised transportation in all cities in Serbia, as well as to discounts for inter-city travel. Some local authorities have introduced free transportation for students in their municipalities. The right to subsidised transportation is granted to all students both at public and private institutions.