Definition of the Target Group(s)
Disabled persons studying in Serbian higher education institutions may receive financial support for studies. Students from socially disadvantaged families may receive social scholarships.
Specific Support Measures
Financial support for learners is defined by the Law on Pupils and Students' Standard, whereby students are entitled to the following:
- Subsidised meals
- Student loans
- Student grants
- Grants for talented students
Accommodation and subsidized meals
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). The city of Belgrade can accommodate 12,000 students in 14 dorms, Novi Sad 3,000 students etc. Students from private universities and those who are not funded from the state budget have the possibility of getting accommodation in a student dorm only on condition that there are vacant places left and at the economic prices. Approximately 7.36% of students were accommodated in dorms in the academic year 2011/12. In the same academic year, revenues collected from dorm accommodation fees were approximately 1.6 million EUR, whereas the state subsidised an additional amount of 8 million EUR. According to the EQUIED report, in the academic year 2011/12, public expenditures for subsidised accommodation and meals were 22 million EUR, whereas approximately 40,000 students were using subsidised meals.
Funding for the above mentioned support mechanisms is provided by the Government, the benefits being intended for students studying at public universities and funded from the state budget. Student loans are non-refundable for those who graduate in time with 8.5 or higher average grade (out of 10). Otherwise, students are obliged to return the loan with due interest. In order to qualify for a loan, apart from having a “budget-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 alternatively secondary school achievement for first-year students), and according to their socio-economic status. The latter criterion carries a 25% share in the total ranking, which implies that studying performance is the main criterion for receiving a student loan. In the academic year 2014/15, a monthly loan instalment was 8,400 RSD (approximately 70 EUR) per student. Students receive their loans in 10 monthly instalments per year. In the academic year 2011/12, a total of 6% of the entire student body were recipients of student loans (EQUI-ED: 84).
Student grants are awarded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to „budget-financed“ students with excellent accomplishments (average grade has to be 9 or higher on a 5-10 grading scale). There are additional affirmative measures for receiving student grants for students from vulnerable groups. These grants are part of general Competition, and ranking of students from vulnerable groups is still merit based, with additional needs-based criteria, like the proof of disability, certificate/proof of socio-economic status etc. The grant amount is the same as that for loans: in the academic year 2014/15, recipients of student grants were allocated respective monthly amounts of 8,400 RSD (approximately 70 EUR).
Grants for talented students
From the state budget and through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, special grants are awarded for outstanding accomplishments to students from the Young Talents Fund. Students funded under this programme are obliged to remain in the country for a certain number of years following graduation. The monthly amount awarded through this programme is approximately 100 EUR per student.
State universities, provincial and university cities’ governments provide funds for supporting talented and best students. Students who apply for this type of grants are not eligible to receive other grants from state budget (such as state grants, and state loans described below). Ranking is strictly merit based. Many of the local self-governments that are not university centres provide students from their municipalities/cities with local grants and loans for studying in another city, as well as other types of benefits, but there are no systematic data on the range and type of grants/loans/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 travels. Some local governments have introduced free transportation for students in their municipalities. The right to subsidised transportation is granted to all students at both pubic and private institutions.
Apart from the state budget, the city of Belgrade, for example, funds 240 best-performing students and 80 students with disabilities per year.
Tuition fees are free of charge for the following student categories:
- Individuals from families with lower socio-economic backgrounds;
- Individuals without parental care;
- Individuals from single-parent families;
- Members of the Roma national minority;
- Individuals with disabilities, those with chronic diseases and convalescents;
- Refugees and displaced persons;
- Returnees under the Readmission Agreement and deported students;
- Individuals from families with lower socio-economic backgrounds and children without parental care.
In addition, students with disabilities, Roma students and students who finished secondary school in another country could apply for tuition fee exemption through affirmative measures within official call for enrolment.