Population: 3,074,579 (July 2020 est.)
GDP: 36.01 Billion USD (2017 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency: Leke (ALL)
Language: Albanian (official)
UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Albania has 17,448 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.
CIA World Factbook:
32.99% of Albania’s population is under 24 years old.
There are two tracks in the Albanian education system: public and private. The latter has grown at a moderate pace over the last decade.
The Albanian Education System is organized in two main levels: Pre-University Education System and Higher Education System.
|Pre-University Education System|
|Primary Education (Compulsory)
|3 - 6 years old
2 years kindergarten and 1-year preschool
|6 -15 years old
5 years elementary & 4 years middle school
|15 -18 years old
General high school, vocational schools, and oriented education
The Higher Education System was shaped after the Bologna Agreement adopted by the Albanian government in 2003 and offers the following levels of study:
|Higher Education System (Tertiary Education)|
(3 years - 180 ECT) EQF 6
|Master of Science
(2 years 120 ETCS) EQF 7
(1.5 years 60-90 ECTS)
|Master of Science or Master of Arts
(2years, 120 ECTS),
|Professional master’s degree
(1,5 years, 60-90 ECTS), EQF 7;
|Master of Science or Master of Arts degree in integrated study programs of the second cycle||
Executive Master study programs
|Long term specialization studies are part of the third cycle and offer advanced studies in fields such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, engineering, law, veterinary studies;
Specialization Diploma is conferred for the relevant educational field studied.
Higher Education System
Admissions criteria are set annually by the government and high school students meeting the average score and admissions criteria have the right to continue tertiary education. Education Institutions might also approve additional admission criteria depending on the school. Public tertiary education in Albania charges moderate fees that are approved by the universities, while private education tuition varies depending on the school.
Government education spending in Albania is small comprising only 3.96 percent of the GDP in 2016. Less than approximately one-fourth of it is dedicated to tertiary education. Overall spending in tertiary education is higher if private tertiary education system spending is included and the high outbound mobility rate of Albanian students.
The number of private tertiary institutions in Albania has increased and though improvements have been made in recent years, the overall lack of quality remains a serious issue. As a result, a larger number of Albanian students are looking for university education opportunities abroad.
According to UNESCO’s Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students data, the number of Albanian students studying abroad in 2018 totaled 17,448. This represents close to 13.5 percent of all students registered in the tertiary education system in Albania during 2018 (129,394 students). Most students choose European countries as their destination because of the low tuition fees or state funded education offered by the European public universities, as well as the convenient geographic proximity to the market. During 2018, Italy hosted 10,364 students or approximately 60 percent of all Albanian students studying abroad, while the rest chose other destinations such as Greece, Turkey, Germany, USA, UK, France, Austria, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Rumania, Bulgaria, etc.
The United States ranked fifth as a destination country for Albanian students in 2018, behind Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Germany. According to the Open Doors 2019 Report, the number of Albanian students hosted by the U.S., although small compared to the total number, has been growing during the last five years. During 2019, the U.S. hosted 993 versus 884 Albanian students in 2018, or 12.3 percent more than in the previous academic year. This number has been steadily growing since 2014. Close to 64 percent of students pursue undergraduate degrees, 19 percent graduate degrees, and 13 percent OTP. Albania has a higher than average interest in 2+2 programs. While students do attract financial aid, Albanian parents are able to contribute significantly to their children’s education. More and more Albanian students are interested in Optional Practical Training (OPT). This is partly due to the extended three-year OPT for STEM students and the fact that a higher number of Albanian students may be declaring a STEM major throughout their studies.
Albanians value the American education system as one of the best in the world, however, access to that market remains limited. A number of factors contribute to this including the cost of education, free or very competitive tuition offered by European Universities, geographic distance to the U.S. market, lack of preparation for standardized exams (SAT, GMAT, GRE, and TOEFL), and the lack of proper information about the procedures students need to tap into the U.S. market. Lack of school counselors and career advisors in public high schools and scarce career advising services in schools in general are also factors to be considered. In addition, unlike American universities, European education institutions sponsor and run intensive information and promotion campaigns and fairs.
Albanian students are known for their multi-linguistic abilities. English and Italian are the most commonly spoken languages among Albanian students. German is also gaining traction as a direct result of the vast educational and employment opportunities available in Germany. English remains the first foreign language in the Albanian education system and is taught starting in the 3rd grade. The obligatory exams to receive a State Maturity Diploma includes the English language, Albanian, Mathematics, and two electives. The second foreign language starts in the 6th grade and continues through the 12th grade. The second language choices for high school’s students vary but focus mostly on Italian, French, German, and Spanish. This linguistic ability gives Albanian students a competitive advantage.
By the time they are ready to start university most Albanian students are well prepared academically and proficient in English and Italian. This preparation facilitates the learning experience abroad.
During 2017-2018, 18,364 students enrolled in public tertiary education and 4,054 in private tertiary education for the first time. The most popular degrees among Albanian students include Business Administration and Law, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences. Out of those, Business Administration and Law is the most popular, attracting almost a quarter of the students in the public system and a third in private education. The second most popular being Health and Welfare and Engineering, manufacturing and construction. The number of students in the ICT field is also growing.
The Albanian Government Excellence Fund, approved annually, supports Albanian students who get admitted to the top 15 Universities ranked by the Time’s Higher Education World University Ranking, both by overall and/or by the subject of the study. Most of the top-15 universities worldwide are U.S. universities, and this might create opportunities for those schools to recruit students from Albania. In addition, the Government of Albania supports with up to 8,000 euros, students admitted by accredited universities in U.S.A. or EU, provided that these universities offer to students, financial aid that amounts to 75 percent of the total education cost.
The Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy Tirana manages several academic and youth exchange programs under the Fulbright Hays Act. The Fulbright Program supports both U.S. and Albanian professionals, students, scholars, and researchers to conduct research, and lecture. The Fulbright program also provides support for the Albanian student program to study in a master’s degree program. The academic qualifications received from the U.S. are recognized in Albania according to the application process and the rules of the Albanian education system. The academic qualifications received from the U.S. are recognized in Albania.
On December 25, 2018 the U.S. Government and the Government of Albania signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of the Fulbright Program in Albania. According to this MOU the Albanian government intends to contribute 150,000 euros annually for five successive years toward the Fulbright Foreign Student program and increase the number of Albanian Fellows pursuing a master’s degree in the United States in areas of specific interest for the Albanian Government.
Summer courses could also present good opportunities for U.S. universities and schools looking to attract Albanian students. A targeted approach to partnering with Albanian universities and schools might be a better way to direct students early toward a specific university or college. The summer English language programs are suitable for local students and fit well with Albania’s semester structure.
EducationUSA is active in the country and organizes many promotion activities throughout the year. The center runs a successful Competitive College Club with about 30 students participating annually.
U.S. universities could also work with consulting agencies in Albania, which provide extensive assistance to Albanian students that plan to study abroad. These consulting agencies inform students about requirements, documentation, and facilitate the whole process. The U.S. Commercial Service can assist with arranging appointments with Albanian recruitment partners through customized programs for individual U.S. education institutions.
There are only a few large education fairs taking place in Albania with the major one being the World Education Fair, usually held in February in Tirana (http://www.worldeducation-al.com/).
Other important education fairs include Tirana Education Fair (https://www.tiranaeducationfair.com/) and the education fair organized by the Education and Business Consultancy Agency (www.ebcon.al).
Tirana has also been added as a stop to the EducationUSA Southeastern Europe Tour.
The Italian Embassy in Albania organizes annually a large fair dedicated to the Italian Education market. Turkey started in 2018 to organize a fair to promote Turkey as a destination.
- Industry and Analysis, Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services: https://www.trade.gov/professional-and-business-services
- Fulbright Program Albania: https://al.usembassy.gov/education-culture/educational-exchange-programs/fulbright-programs/
- Ministry of Education: www.arsimi.gov.al
- Quality Assurance Agency in Higher Education: https://www.ascal.al/en/
- Institute of Education Development: http://www.izha.edu.al/
- University of Tirana: http://www.unitir.edu.al
- Excellence Fund for Albanian students: https://arsimi.gov.al and https://educationusa.state.gov/scholarships/excellence-fund-albanian-students
- Albanian Institute of Statistics: www.instat.gov.al
- Education Consulting Agency: www.integral.al http://www.worldeducation-al.com
- Education Consulting Center in Albania: http://www.blink-al.com https://www.tiranaeducationfair.com/
- Education & Business Consultancy: www.ebcon.al
US Commercial Service Contact
Edi Jacellari, Economic Commercial Specialist
Economic Commercial Section – Tirana, Albania
+355 68 208 0367