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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of the education system and of its structure


2.Organisation and governance

2.3Organisation of the education system and of its structure

Last update: 15 March 2024

The overall structure of the education system and mobility within the system is visually presented in Diagram of education system of Slovenia (.pdf).

Education system in Slovenia comprises

Preschool education

Preschool education is not compulsory. It is offered for children aged from 11 months (end of childcare leave) to six years (or the starting age of compulsory single structure primary and lower secondary education).

The provision of preschool education entails two age brackets:

  1. for children who are one to three years old and
  2. for children who are three to six years old.

Public kindergartens are founded by municipalities in line with the needs of the local population. They may be independent institutions or operate as units of basic schools.

The public network of kindergartens is complemented by private kindergartens that hold a concession and employ qualified staff. Where such possibilities exist, parents are free to decide on the placement of their child in a public or private kindergarten.

Depending on the needs of parents and children and in agreement with the municipalities, kindergartens may implement different programmes:

  • full-day,
  • half-day and
  • shorter.

Programmes encompass education, care and meals. Pre-school teachers and pre-school teacher assistants implement these programmes, which are in line with the national Kindergarten curriculum. This is the basic programme document of preschool education in Slovenia.

For further information please see Early childhood education and care.

Basic school education

Basic school comprises primary and lower secondary education. In line with the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, basic school education is compulsory and funded by the public revenues.

Children must enrol in first grade at the age of six. Schools implement the single-structure curriculum over the course of nine years, so pupils typically conclude basic school education at the age of 15.

The providers of basic school education are public and private schools, educational institutions for children with special educational needs as well as accredited adult education organisations.

Basic schools are founded by municipalities, and the public network of basic schools gives all residents of Slovenia access to education. It secures a place at a public school for all children that reside in the catchment area of a specific school.

Parents have the right to request for their child to be placed in a school outside their respective school catchment area. Head-teachers are autonomous in making the decision about the parent's request, depending on the capacity of the school in question. An additional consideration – and a single restriction of head-teachers' autonomy in this respect – is whether the enrolment outside of the catchment area would affect the schools' status or internal organisation. This refers to a change from a self-standing school to a branch, a school’s closure, or the need to form a new class as a result of the enrolment of the pupil from a different school's catchment area.

For further information please see Single structure education (Integrated primary and lower secondary education).

Upper secondary education

Upon completion of compulsory basic education, pupils – typically aged 15 – have the option of pursuing upper secondary education. This takes two to five years to complete, and it does not entail tuition fees.

Schools may limit enrolment if the number of candidates exceeds their capacity, but overall those with completed basic education can apply to any upper secondary education programme. Acquiring upper secondary education qualification is also possible in adulthood, through regular programmes with special organisational adjustments for adults.

There are two main types of upper secondary education: general education and vocational-technical education.

General upper secondary education is provided by general upper secondary schools, called gimnazija. The general, classical, technical, economics and arts gimnazija take four years to complete through regular programmes. The main goal is to prepare the student for the pursuit of higher education. The curriculum consists of compulsory and elective parts, including two mandatory foreign languages. The programmes conclude with the national-level final exam called the general matura. There is also the possibility to pursue upper secondary education through a matura course, which lasts one year and prepares students for the final matura exam.

Individuals can pursue vocational and technical upper secondary education through a range of programmes at different levels of difficulty:

  • short upper secondary vocational education (2 years)
  • upper secondary vocational education (3 years)
  • upper secondary technical education (4 years)
  • upper secondary vocational-technical education (2 years)
  • and vocational course (1 year).

The goal of these programmes is to obtain specific occupational qualifications to enter the labour market or – in the case of four-year programmes – to continue education at the tertiary level.

Educational programmes are based on vocational standards that are prescribed in response to the needs of the labour market. The programmes consist of general subjects, technical modules, practical training and content determined by each school in cooperation with business companies. The vocational-technical and technical programmes conclude with the vocational matura exam, whereas the vocational programmes conclude with an internal final examination.

For further information please see Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.

Tertiary education

Tertiary education includes short-cycle higher vocational education and higher education studies.

Higher vocational colleges, both public and private, implement short-cycle higher vocational education programmes. Their main purpose is to prepare students for working in the industry. A precondition for enrolment is successfully completed upper secondary general or technical education.

Higher education is provided in three cycles. The first cycle consists of academic and professional study programmes. Upon completion of a first cycle study programme, one may proceed to a second cycle study programme. Completing this level of education is a prerequisite for enrolment in the third cycle programme, which leads to a doctoral degree. An exception to this requirement is the completion of an integrated Master's programme that entails at least 300 CPT. Graduates of such Master's may also enrol in third cycle programmes.

Universities, faculties and art academies may offer all higher education programmes. Higher professional education institutions, on the other hand, generally only provide professional higher education study programmes. They may also provide second cycle study programmes, but only if they meet a set of strict conditions.

The above-mentioned tertiary education programmes differ in duration and, accordingly, in credit loads:

  • short-cycle higher vocational study programmes: 120 ECTS
  • first cycle study programmes (technical and university): 180–240 ECTS
  • second cycle/Master's study programmes: 60–120 ECTS
  • integrated Master's study programmes: 300–360 ECTS
  • third cycle/doctoral study programmes: 180 ECTS

Adult education

The main feature of adult education is a considerable programme and institutional diversity. The network of adult education providers comprises specialized adult education institutions as well as various organisations that offer adult education as a supplementary activity.

Adults may attain educational qualifications at all levels of education. Formal adult education is delivered through programmes and activities that are adapted for adults. The providers of these programmes are: public schools that also provide education for young students, or their units for adult education; adult education organisations (including ljudske univerze in Slovenian, which translates to people's universities); educational business centres; research and development organisations for adult education; tertiary education institutions; and persons who are accredited as private teachers. Programme providers must satisfy nationally regulated conditions regarding staffing, accommodation and equipment.

Non-formal education and training is organised in schools, adult education organisations, within business companies and other workplaces, etc. Higher education institutions also offer various possibilities for updating and broadening one's skills and knowledge, courses, summer schools, field trainings and similar activities.

A special segment of officially recognized programmes that do not lead to a formal educational qualification is designed for target groups in need of improving their basic competences or in need of support in their integration in the society.

The certification system for national vocational qualifications enables the verification of knowledge and skills obtained through non-formal learning.

For further information, please see Adult education and training.

Education for persons with special educational needs

Children with special educational needs attend regular kindergartens and schools as well as specialised schools and institutions. Regular kindergartens and schools provide education for children with special educational needs in an inclusive form or in separate classes.

Musical and ballet education

Basic music and ballet schools (sl) are publicly funded, and they provide children, basic school pupils, students and adults with an opportunity to develop their musical and dancing talents alongside regular formal education. Depending on the attendant's age and the programme's level of difficulty, programmes last from one to eight years.

Home education

Parents have the right to decide to educate their child at home during compulsory education, namely at ISCED levels 1 and 2. If parents decide to educate their child at home they just notify in writing the basic school in their school catchment area about their decision (at least 3 months before the beginning of the school year). The notice must include the name of the child and of the person who will provide instruction (no specific qualification needed), and place of instruction. The knowledge of the pupil is assessed and examined at the end of each school year. If the assessment committee ascertains that the pupil does not meet the required knowledge standards, he/she must continue education in school from the next school year. In Slovenia, in 2023/2024 869 pupils are home educated, 1138 in 2022/2023, 1613 in 2021/2022, 687 in 2020/2021, 392 in 2019/2020 and 163 pupils in 2013/2014.