Higher Education System

Serbia joined the Bologna Process in 2003. The adoption of the Law on Higher Education supporting the implementation of Bologna Process followed in 2005. This law formally introduced:

  • the European Credit Transfer System;
  • three-cycle system of study;
  • diploma supplement.

All newly admitted students study under the reformed study programmes as of the academic 2007/08.The reform process was continued by the adoption of the standards for accreditation, self-evaluation and external quality control in 2006. This has set conditions for the start of the process of accreditation of higher education institutions and study programmes in 2007.Strategy for Development of Education in Serbia until 2020, was adopted in 2012. It seeks to identify purposes, goals, directions, instruments and mechanisms for the development of the education system in the Republic of Serbia until 2020. It includes chapters relevant for higher education.According to the Law on Higher Education, every study programme is defined through the number of ECTS. Each course within the study programme is valued through the number of ECTS. Total sum of ECTS varies from a minimum of 180 for three year programmes to a minimum of 240 ECTS for four year programmes at the bachelor level.  At the master level a number of ECTS may vary from minimum of 60 to 120 ECTS depending on the length of the programme (one or two year). Programmes at the PhD level comprise at least 180 ECTS.

Every person who finishes a four-year secondary school has an open access to higher education in Republic of Serbia. The last 2011 census showed that 10.59% of the population of Serbia have higher education qualifications. 

Types of studies and institutions

The higher education system in Serbia offers two types of studies:

  • academic studies realised at universities;
  • applied studies organized either at colleges of applied studies or at universities.

Higher education in Serbia is provided by universities and colleges that are either public or private.Academy of Applied Studies has also been envisaged by the law, but no such institution has been founded yet.


All higher education institutions must be accredited before obtaining a working license issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The Ministry is the governmental authority in charge of higher education. It recommends educational policies to the Government, plans admission policies for students, allocates financial resources to higher education institutions, and acts as a general supervisor of the overall higher education development.Another authority in charge of higher education is the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). It is responsible for strategic planning and decision making regarding key issues relevant to the HE system coherence such as setting standards for the internal assessment and quality evaluation of HE institutions and establishing standards for the issuance of work permits. The Council is an independent body. It consists mainly of academics proposed by the Conference of Serbian Universities (CSU) and appointed by the National Assembly.The National Council establishes a separate working body called the Accreditation and Quality Evaluation Commission to carry out tasks related to the accreditation and quality evaluation of higher education institutions and their individual units and those related to the evaluation of study programmes.The Conference of Universities of Serbia and the Students’ Conference of Universities of Serbia are the two consultative bodies. They also act as very important factors in the governing of higher education.

(Source: Eurydice, page updated 13 September, 2018)