Croatia is very proud of its strong academic tradition. Some of its universities are the oldest in South-East Europe. There are 49 higher education institutions in Croatia, including 10 universities (8 public and 2 private), 15 polytechnic (11 public and 4 private) and 24 schools of professional higher education (3 public, 21 private).
Croatia is a member of the Bologna process. All programs of study in Croatia are aligned with this structure.
Enrolling to a higher education institution in Croatia is not limited only to students who speak Croatian or are from Croatia. There are a variety of education programs available for international students who do not know Croatian and do not have the intention to learn it. Medical studies is one of the most prominent programs and is taught in English.
Studying in Croatia as an EU National
Full-time students from EU Member States are entitled to access the same education as the students of the Republic of Croatia. The right to access to education implies the right to pay the same amount of tuition paid by students of the Republic of Croatia. Regular EU students also have the right to subsidized food just as students of Croatia.
It is also important to note that EU nationals have the right to live and work in any member state, including Croatia. Due to this privilege, they do not need to apply for a residence permit on the basis of their studies.
They can instead apply on the basis of being an EU national, which is a much easier process and comes with more privileges. Detailed instructions on how to apply for residence as an EU national can be found here.
Studying in Croatia as a non-EU national
Non-EU nationals may enroll in a university within Croatia and must pay the tuition fees as dictated by the respective institution. For a program to qualify a person for student residence, they must be enrolled in high school, a university, or participate in an internship program.
Students can also study in Croatia as part of the Erasmus+ program at the European Union level, or within the framework of the CEEPUS regional student exchange program. Exchange opportunities like these are part of the European Union’s Mobility Agency and Programs.
Croaticum and similar language programs do not qualify for student residence. If you are planning to enroll in this type of program, you must apply for residence under “other purposes” (called “u druge svrhe” in Croatian). You can learn about this kind of residence permit here.
Qualifications to Study in Croatia
There are two types of qualifications recognized in Croatia:
- Academic recognition
- Professional recognition
Academic recognition is for those wanting to further their education in Croatia. Professional recognition is for those hoping to gain employment in Croatia post-education.
All higher education institutions that accept international students usually have an office dedicated to working with foreign applicants. Prospective students should contact this office at their selected institution well before applying in order to obtain the necessary requirements for acceptance.
If a student earns a degree in Croatia, they will need to find out if it will be recognized in the country where they intend to live and work after graduation.
If English is not your first language, then you will need to show that your English language skills are at a high enough level to succeed in your studies.
Scholarships and Financial Subsistence
Currently, the majority of Croatian higher education institutions do not offer any scholarships or financial aid to international students.
The scholarships are offered through bilateral and university bilateral agreements and through programs such as Erasmus and CEEPUS administered by the Agency for Mobility and EU programs.
In order to study at Croatian higher education institutions, international students must prove they have sufficient financial means for the duration of their study in Croatia, either from personal sources and/or scholarships.
To prove financial means from personal sources, usually the police will require that you open a Croatian bank account and deposit a specific amount of kuna into the account as part of your residence permit application. You can read about the minimum amount of money you would need to have to qualify for residence here.
At this time, non-EU students are not allowed to work. There is a proposed change to the law currently in discussion in parliament. If this changes, we will update this post here.
How to Get a Student Residence Permit
International students are not allowed to attend classes at a Croatian university until they have procured a temporary residence permit. Application for a residence permit is based on your term of study within Croatia.
Students of certain countries Awill need to procure an entry visa to Republic Croatia (visa C) in addition to procuring a temporary residence permit. These visas need to be requested in advance at the diplomatic mission or consulate of the Republic of Croatia in the foreign national’s home country. You can find out if a tourist visa is required for you nationality here.
Where to submit your temporary residence permit application
- At a diplomatic mission or consulate of the Republic of Croatia in the foreign national’s home country
- At the administrative police department located in the jurisdiction where you plan to study
When to submit your residence permit application
- Students submitting an application to the diplomatic mission or consulate of the Republic of Croatia in their home country should do so prior to their scheduled arrival in Croatia.
- Students submitting the application to the appropriate police department or police station in Croatia should do so upon entering Croatia during their short-term stay.
- A completed application, provided by the police
- (1) Color photograph 35×45 mm
- Valid passport (If passport is not in English language, then you must have a copy notarized and translated into Croatian)
- Proof of secured housing
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
- Proof of admittance to a higher education institution in Croatia
- Completed application (form provided by the police)
A fee of 500 kuna will need to be paid to receive your student residence permit. Foreign students (or professors and researchers) that have acquired scholarships from the Agency for Mobility and EU Programs are exempt from paying this fee but they are still required to pay for the cost of the issuance of the residence card in the amount of 240 kuna and the duty stamp fee of 20 kuna.
The usual duration of the student residence permit is usually one year or it can be tied to the academic year. A student who studies full time in Croatia must renew the permit each year. Begin the process of renewal at least 30 days in advance (but up to 60 days in advance is recommended).
Can your family come with you to Croatia?
If you have been accepted to a Croatian institution AND have received a residence permit, your immediate family may not join you in Croatia for a period of two years.
If you are a minor child studying in Croatia, you may bring your parents to Croatia. In this case, your family may apply for residency under “Family Reunification”.