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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

Last update: 27 November 2023

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development in cooperation with the local authorities supervises the area of secondary education. The Law on the Education System Foundations and Law on Secondary Education are a legal basis for secondary education implementation, along with all bylaws and regulations. Each school is required to issue a:

  • development plan;
  • a school programme and
  • an annual plan.

These documents regulate the organisation of all school affairs in compliance with the national Law. There are a number of institutions, regulated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, which are responsible for education quality assurance, textbooks standards and other aspects relevant to the functioning of the education system (Institute for the Improvement of EducationNational Education Council etc.)

Secondary school is not compulsory and lasts from 3 to 4 years (grades). Pupils usually enter secondary school at the age of 15, upon completion of primary school.

Admission criteria are:

  • the primary school final exam and,
  • students’ school achievements (GPA) during their primary education.

While students’ choices of schools are considered, better final exam results and GPAs increase the probability of desired school enrolment.

Model of Dual education is regulated by the Law on Dual Education.  The objectives of dual education are to provide conditions for acquiring, improving and developing competencies in line with labour market needs, contributing to strengthening the competitiveness of the Serbian economy, and enabling employment after completion of education. According to the Law on Secondary Education, following types of schools are available for secondary education:

  • General secondary schools, most commonly called gymnasiums. They last 4 years and offer general education, usually followed by admission to a higher education institution. This type of school is considered completed with the passage of a national graduation exam at the end of the 4th grade.
  • Vocational secondary schools that last 3 or 4 years and offer primarily specialised education. Each school or program is focused on a specific field of study.Itprepares students to enter the labour market or, in some cases, continue their education. The completion of a vocational secondary school involves the passage of a national graduation exam (for 4-year programmes) or a final exam (for 3-year programmes) at the end of the final grade.
  • combined secondary schools offer a combination of general and vocational education. These schools commonly exist in small towns, usually as the only locally available schools.
  • Art schools, such as music and ballet schools. These schools can be mixed schools with both art and general education subjects. Alternatively, pupils may enrol in an art school and another general or vocational secondary school at the same time. 
  • Special education secondary schools for students who cannot participate in regular schools. Students with disabilities are encouraged to participate in regular schools when possible.

Schools are mainly public and free, although private schools are also available. The language of instruction is Serbian, while other languages of instruction for national minorities are available where necessary (e.g. Hungarian, Romanian, Albanian etc.). Distance-learning and home-teaching are also possible options in both general and vocational secondary education.

All post-secondary educational institutions, including both universities and  colleges and colleges of applied studies, are considered as tertiary education institutions and are described in the Higher Education section.