Higher Education in Serbia
The Serbian higher education system conforms to European standards set forth in the Bologna Process and uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Serbian institutions award the traditional three tiers of degrees, bachelor’s, master’s (sciences or arts) and doctor of science. Most courses are taught in Serbian, but some programs and courses are available in English. International students who plan to study in Serbia must normally take one year of language training in Serbia prior to beginning studies in their academic discipline.
Why Study in Serbia?
Serbian institutions offer a long history of high-quality education, and many were established in the 1800s. Serbian institutions offer a wide range of master’s degrees, including programs in management, banking, economics, political science, the arts, agriculture, communication, computer science and engineering, among others. Students obtaining master’s degrees in Serbia will get a complete immersion in the multi-ethnic Central European culture as well as the opportunity to easily travel to other European countries during breaks from their studies.
Universities in Serbia
There are three types of higher education institutions in Serbia: universities, colleges of applied sciences and colleges of academic studies. Some international universities exist as well, such as the University of New York in Belgrade, which offers MBAs taught in English. Universities are the only institutions that offer all three levels of higher education. Colleges of applied sciences and colleges of academic sciences may award both bachelor’s and specialist graduate degrees, but not master’s degrees or PhDs.
Serbia has 17 universities; 8 are public and 9 are private. There are also 47 public and 17 private colleges of applied sciences, as well as 3 public and 5 private colleges of academic studies.
Tuition and Program Duration
At public universities, Serbian students normally study for free, with exceptions for some programs; tuition is also very low for international students. Tuition at private schools varies widely, but can be up to €20,000 for some programs. Master’s programs take from 1-2 years and 60-120 ECTS to complete depending upon the program and type of institution.
The academic year normally starts at the beginning of October. Individual institutions have wide latitude in the structure of the academic year, which must consist of 30 weeks of studies. The most common systems use semesters (two 15-week periods) and trimesters (three 10-week periods). However, schools are allowed to develop any system as long as they meet the 30-week total requirement.
Although unemployment in Serbia is currently very high, foreign workers are still welcome. Students with master’s degrees may find that they are more employable, especially by companies that do extensive business with EU countries. Both residence and work permits for foreign workers are easy to obtain, usually within 2 days. Work permits are valid for 3-12 months and are easily renewed. Individuals seeking a work permit should first have a job offer and a residence permit, which is issued by the Ministry of Interior Affairs. The company where the individual will be employed and the individual must both submit applications for the work permit, which is issued by the Labour Market office.
International students must have health insurance from their home country or private health insurance while studying in Serbia. The health insurance is mandatory and students must submit proof of insurance when they apply for their visa or residence permit. It is recommended that students have coverage for up to €20,000.
International students who are staying with friends, family or sponsors in private homes must register with the local police station within 24 hours of arriving in Serbia.