Universities used to be considered more prestigious than professional schools. Students who graduated from these were considered of “higher expertise” (viša stručna sprema or VŠS), whilst students who graduated from polytechnics were of “high expertise” (visoka stručna sprema or VSS).
Distinctions between the different forms of schooling were blurred when Croatia signed the Bologna Declaration and the terms “high” and “higher” were abolished.
Higher education is now divided into Bachelors (prvostupnik), Masters (magistar), and Doctorate (doktor) degrees, obtainable in 3, 2, and 3 years respectively. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is also accepted and classes taken in Croatia have an equivalent value all over Europe.
Universities specialise in scientific research and development, while polytechnics and professional schools prepare students for work needed in their local community.
Higher education is directly regulated and sponsored by the Ministry of Education. Therefore, schooling is free for Croat nationals, although international student fees can be as high as 4,000 USD per year.
Entrance requirements to university and polytechnics are the same. You will need 12 years of formal schooling and the equivalent of a Svjedodžba o maturi (general diploma).
Upon application, you must present a health visa and a certified copy of your school diploma translated into English. Any other documents required by the school should also be translated.
You will have to take a language proficiency test if the language of instruction is not your mother tongue. Foreign students are also required to complete a 2-semester course in Croatian language and to sit a final exam.