Croatian Higher Education System

Croatian higher education system has been in the process of reform over the past few years. The Bologna Declaration, adopted in Bologna in 1999 by the European Ministers of Education for the purpose of reforming the higher education system in Europe, was accepted in Croatia back in 2001, thus starting the reform known as the Bologna Process, with the purpose to increase the employability of European citizens and the international competitiveness of the European higher education system through:

  1. adoption of a system of easily recognizable and comparable levels of education,
  2. adoption of a system of higher education divided into three cycles,
  3. introduction of the European credit transfer system,
  4. promoting the mobility of students and teachers,
  5. increasing the quality of higher education,
  6. promoting the European dimension in higher education,
  7. adoption of a system of easily recognizable and comparable levels of education.

Along with joining the Bologna Process, the Education System Development Plan was devised for the period 2005-2010 to determine objectives (to establish a quality assurance system in the higher education system of the Republic of Croatia until 2006; to reduce the drop-out rate of students and to lower duration of studying until 2010) and priorities in higher education (to improve quality and efficiency of education).

The first step in the reform of higher education in the Republic of Croatia was made in 2005 by harmonizing undergraduate, graduate and professional studies according to the Bologna principles, thus enrolling the first generation of Bologna students that year. In the period from 2005-2009, postgraduate studies were also reformed. In that period, 30 higher education institutions were founded, mostly private and public polytechnics as well as the first private universities, all in accordance with the strategic focus of the Republic of Croatia on polycentric development of higher education.

The European Higher Education Area exhibited the need to standardize and define general conditions for quality higher education, so it was necessary to standardize the levels of acquired qualifications. Thus, the European qualifications framework (EQF) prescribes 8 levels of education, from compulsory elementary education (1st level) to postgraduate education (8th level). In addition to EQF, most of the countries in the European Higher Education Area developed their own qualification frameworks (National qualifications framework – NQF), thus creating their own scale of achieved levels of education. Compliance with the European qualifications framework facilitates the recognition of acquired levels of education within the European area.

Development of Croatian Qualifications Framework (CROQF) started in 2006, aiming to define the entire system of qualifications at all educational levels in the Republic of Croatia through qualification standards based on learning outcomes that correspond with requirements of the labor market, with individual needs and with overall social demands (Figure 1).

CROQF is devised with the aim of connecting the levels of qualifications acquired in the Republic of Croatia with the EQF levels and the Qualifications Frameworks in the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA). The Croatian Qualifications Framework Act was adopted in February 2013.

Presentation of the Croatian Qualifications Framework
Starting with the academic year 2009/2010, two important innovations have been introduced into the Croatian education system – the State Matura Exam at the end of four years of secondary education and electronical model of admission to higher education institutions, which evaluate the results of the State Matura Exam when ranking candidates for admission. This means that the State Matura Exam has completely replaced previous model of admission exams at universities.

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

European credit transfer and accumulation system – ECTS is a system of collecting and transferring credits in the higher education system based on achievements or learning outcomes and the learning process itself. Learning outcomes describe what students need to know, understand and be able to do after successfully completing the learning process. ECTS credits are assigned to courses and other study obligations imposed on students by considering the workload of each study obligation. The value of one ECTS credit corresponds to 25-30 hours of student work, which includes the obligation to attend lectures, and to prepare for exam and to complete all other activities related to particular course. ECTS credits acquired within one study program can be transferred to another study program at the same or another university. The prerequisite for this transfer is that the higher education institution recognises ECTS points and learning results from another higher education institution. As a rule, higher education institutions should agree on recognition and make the conditions for the recognition of ECTS credits public so that students are informed in advance about the recognition process. ECTS facilitates the planning, implementation, recognition and evaluation of qualifications and study units, as well as the mobility of students.

Recognition of Courses, Periods of Study and Qualifications Obtained at Other Higher Education Institutions

Transfer from and recognition of courses passed at other higher education institution in the Republic of Croatia
Acquiring or retaining a student status at the University of Osijek is possible by transferring from one university study to another akin university study, from one professional study to another akin professional study, or from one study module to another study module, as well as

  • within studies organized in the same scientific field,
  • within the same scientific-teaching or artistic-teaching University constituent or from one to another scientific-teaching or artistic-teaching University constituent,
  • from other higher education institutions in the Republic of Croatia.

Students are obliged to submit their request for approval of the transfer to an appropriate study provider, i.e. to the Department of Biology, no later than September 15 of the current academic year. In their requests, students need to specify their full-time or part-time student status.

The student transfer is approved based on the Decision of the Department Council or of an authorized Department body. When approving student transfer, the overall approved student quota has to be considered.

The study provider determines the period of study during which it is possible to transfer to another study at the same level, and the transfer can be approved after the end of the current academic year in which the student enrolled in the first study year.

Conditions for the transfer are defined by the study provider, and those can be:

  • number of achieved ECTS credits during the study,
  • grade point average during the study,
  • exams passed within specific courses,
  • other conditions defined by the Department.

Exceptionally, the transfer may be approved to students who do not fulfill the requirements if their request for the transfer is supported by documentation proving their social-economic status, health issues or other justified reasons.

The student requesting the transfer is obliged to accompany their request by appropriate documents, such as a certified transcript of records and corresponding ECTS credits and other documents determined by the Department.

The student seeking transfer can get the courses passed at another university recognized under the same or a different course name, with the same grade and earned ECTS credits if the exam was taken within a course with the same or similar content. The Department decides how the grade and ECTS credits will be recognized and counted towards the total number of ECTS credits within the study program.


Recognition of foreign higher education qualifications and study periods
Based on the Act on Amendments to the Act on the Recognition and Assessment of Foreign Educational Qualifications from 2006, academic recognition of foreign higher education qualifications or study periods for the purpose of continuing education in the Republic of Croatia is performed by a higher education institution or university at which a student intends to continue their education. Detailed information and instructions on the recognition of foreign higher education qualifications and periods of study are available on the official website of the University of Osijek:

A request for academic recognition of foreign higher education qualifications or study periods for the purpose of continuing education at the University of Osijek is submitted to the Office for Academic Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications of the University of Osijek, address: Ulica cara Hadrijana 10c, Osijek.