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In accordance with the Bologna system, higher education in the Republic of Croatia has a three-cycle study model, including undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level of study. Like several other European higher education systems, the Croatian system has a binary structure comprising the professional and university profile of study programmes and institutions.

Unlike higher education institutions that run university programmes up to the doctoral level, professional studies are primarily delivered at polytechnics at the undergraduate and graduate level and as short-cycle professional studies. Professional studies primarily focus on the labour market and an immediate participation in the workforce, and they lead to the acquisition of primarily professional competences. University study programmes qualify students for developing and applying scientific, artistic and professional achievements and lead to the continuation of academic education.

Pursuant to the Act on Higher Education and Scientific Activity, higher education institutions (HEIs) are universities, faculties, art academies and polytechnics. By way of exception, a public higher education institution established for the purposes of military, police and diplomatic education can be established as an organizational unit of the competent state administration body.

Types and levels of study programmes delivered at higher education institutions in the Republic of Croatia are also prescribed by the Act on Higher Education and Scientific Activity.

University studies are organised and delivered at universities and comprise the following:

  • undergraduate university studies;
  • graduate university studies/integrated undergraduate and graduate university studies;
  • specialist university studies;
  • doctoral studies.

Professional studies are organised and delivered at polytechnics and universities and consist of the following:

  • short-cycle professional studies;
  • undergraduate studies;
  • graduate studies.

The Republic of Croatia joined the Bologna Process in 2001 and thereby initiated reforms in higher education that enabled higher education in the Republic of Croatia to become part of the European Higher Education Area. The period of the last twenty years has seen major developments in the area of higher education in the Republic of Croatia, which have included the reform of study programmes in accordance with the Bologna principles, as well as the trend of establishing new private and public higher education institutions, the development of the Croatian Qualifications Framework (CroQF) and its alignment with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and Qualifications Frameworks in the European Higher Education Area – QF-EHEA, the introduction of the State Matura at the end of high-school education, the introduction of a centralized system for applications to study programmes which takes into consideration the results of State Matura exams, etc.

Procedures of evaluation in higher education:

  1. Initial Accreditation of Study Programmes
  2. Initial accreditation of Higher Education Institutions
  3. Re-accreditation of higher education institutions
  4. Reaccreditation of doctoral study programmes
  5. Cross-border activities
  6. Thematic evaluation in higher education