Croatia - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-01-14


Capital:  Zagreb

Population:  4,227,746 (July 2020 est.)

GDP per capita PPP Billion USD$23,298 (2019 est., Purchasing Power Parity)

Currency:  Kuna (Kn)

Language: Croatian (official)  


UNESCO Student Mobility Number:

Croatia has 9,754 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.


CIA World Factbook:

24.92% of the population in Croatia is under 25 years of age.


As a European Union member, Croatia has an educational system like most European systems which includes pre-school education (kindergarten), basic education (elementary school), secondary, and higher education.  Since 2003, Croatia has been involved in an intensive reform of its higher education system within the framework of the Bologna process, in line with its national needs and European Union standards. The education in Croatia is mainly provided by the public sector.  Students have the right for free tuition, subsidized meals, and lower taxes during their studies.  According to the Croatian Institute for Development of Education the average American standardized test (TOEFL) score in Croatia is 90, which puts Croatia in the top 25 countries in the world.  Croatian students are highly interested in studying abroad, and they are considering and researching all available options on the global educational market.  The Erasmus program is active in Croatia, allowing students to exchange in other EU countries while remaining within the European university system standards.  The Fulbright exchange program is funding educational programs between the United States and Croatia.


Higher Education

  • In the 2018/2019 schoolyear, the total number of children, pupils, and students enrolled in Croatia was 623,283.

Croatian students who wish to study abroad are, along with the mentioned high English language proficiency, usually very well-prepared academically.  Also, many Croatians seek and obtain athletic scholarships in the United States, including more specialized sports such as volleyball, rowing, and soccer. 

The United States is the fifth most popular destination for study abroad, behind Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.  The most popular destinations to study in the United States are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois.  According to the 2020 Open Doors data, there were 472 Croatian students studying in the United States in academic year 2019/2020, an 8.5 percent decrease from the previous year.

Croatia has a binary higher education system, meaning that prospective students can choose between following types of higher education studies: 

  • University studies (consisting of academic programs conducted solely at universities, of which there are 8 public and 2 private universities).
  • Professional studies (consisting of professional programs conducted at polytechnics or colleges of applied sciences, of which there are 11 public and 4 private polytechnics).
  • Professional higher education (consists of 25 schools from which are only 3 public and 22 private).

Since introduction of the Bologna process, the levels of expertise are: Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Arts, Master of Education, Doctor of Science and Doctor of Arts

Undergraduate and Graduate Study

According to Croatian Central Bureau of Statistics (2020), the total number of students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the Republic of Croatia in school year 2018/2019 is 158,016 (98.1% of

them were citizens of the Republic of Croatia and 1.9% were foreign citizens).  Out of that total number, 81.5% of students enrolled on universities’ constituents (79.9% were enrolled on faculties and 1.6% on art academies), 14.1% on polytechnics and 4.4% of professional higher education schools.  The largest Croatian Universities are University of Zagreb (with 39.3% % of all the enrolled universities’ students in Croatia), University of Split (11.8%), University of Osijek (10.5%), University of Rijeka (10.0 %) and University of Zadar (3.4%).  The only American higher education institution in the country is Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Croatia.

The most popular student field in Croatia is the social sciences in which 43.1% of all students are enrolled.  Other popular degrees among students include technical sciences (engineering) with a share of 26%, then the biomedicine and health with 11.2%, humanities with 7.1%, natural sciences with 4.1%, arts with 1.9%, and interdisciplinary fields of sciences in which 1.5% of the total number of students are enrolled.

Postgraduate study

According to Croatian Central Bureau of Statistics (2020), the total number of students enrolled in post graduate specialist study in the Republic of Croatia in school year 2018/2019 is 1,379 (96.9% of them were citizens of the Republic of Croatia and 3.1% were foreign citizens).

The most popular specialization field in Croatia is Biomedicine and Health (51.6%), followed by Social Sciences (40.0%), Engineering (3.1%), Biotechnical Sciences (1.9%), Natural Sciences (1.8%), Artistic

Field (0.7%), Interdisciplinary Fields of Science (0.5%), and Humanities (0.4%).


  • Pre-school education (kindergarten) is optional and provided for children aged from three to six years.  Total number of children enrolled in kindergarten in 2018/2019 was 139,682.  
  • Primary/Elementary education consists of eight years and is compulsory.  Children begin school at the age of 6 or 7.  The total number of pupils enrolled in elementary schools in the school year 2018/2019 was 315,803.  Grades in the elementary school certificate are the major admission criterion in most secondary schools.
  • Secondary/High education is currently optional and is comprised of high schools, mostly gymnasiums and vocational school.  Most of high schools take 4 years.  The admission to comprehensive schools is based on grades from elementary school or the success with entry exams.  People who complete secondary school are classified as “medium expertise.”  Total enrollment in secondary education in the school year 2018/2019 was 148,085.


Online study is not popular in Croatia and there are only few programs in Zagreb and Rijeka cities.  Online study is not funded by the government, so students would need to pay for the full fee.  During pandemic time, students and pupils were rapidly introduced to online learning and perhaps it can get more attention in the future.  Neighbouring countries have more developed programs, so for example Slovenia is offering online study programs in Croatian language that are nostrified in Croatia and EU.


English is the first foreign language in the Croatian education system.  Foreign language courses (English, German) are mandatory for almost all students in Croatia . Education abroad is becoming a key factor for Croatian graduates seeking to succeed at the European Union’s employment market or pursue further educational opportunities globally.  Best prospects within this sector include graduate and post-graduate programs abroad, work & study programs, summer programs, and exchange programs.

Most of the academic degrees awarded by U.S. programs are acknowledged in Croatia.  Distance and e-learning started to be increasingly popular during current Covid-19 pandemic lockouts. Since students, during the Covid-19 pandemic, had a chance to become familiar with an online study, it is open now for similar programs from the United States to be offered in Croatia.

An effective way for U.S. institutions, such as universities or high schools, to enter the market is to establish a partnership with Croatian educational institutions to exchange students.  With partnership agreements, institutions could facilitate the exchange of students providing recognition of course credits between the schools.  Also, during the partnership, the Croatian and U.S.  professors could be exchanged as guest speakers.

The Fulbright Program is active in Croatia since 1964 and offers grants to qualified Croatian students to study at the graduate level in the United States.  More than 500 Croatian scholars and students have studied in the United States under the auspices of the Fulbright Academic Program.


  • Most used students’ platforms:

Merlin” is the most used platform among students for sharing files with their professors, updating schedules, lecture papers. It is made by the University of Zagreb.  Also, the platform called “InfoEdukas” is very popular and every college has a different adaptation of this platform. Platform called “CarNET” is mostly used for accessing important information like student login information and is one of the first e-mail providers that got connected with students.  “Studomat” is also a very reputable website used by students. “eGrađani” is used by parents.

  • Most popular social media sites for students:

The most used platforms are Facebook and Instagram.  Among 2,149,000 recorded Facebook accounts, roughly 20 % were students, while on Instagram there were 1,235,000 recorded users, with roughly 29% of them being students.  Snapchat is also used with 465,000 users, but mostly for quick texting and is mostly used by the female audience.  A little less, but still popular are Reddit, Twitch and WhatsApp.  LinkedIn and Twitter are starting to be more popular during pandemic period.

  • Students research information source:

Google Search is the “most-visited-website” for research in Croatia.  For news updates most visited are media portals:,,,,,,,

  • Job opportunities platforms for students search:

The most used websites are:, and LinkedIn.

  • The most popular streaming videos platforms:

The most used streaming platforms are: YouTube and Twitch.

  • Platforms for reaching students in-country schools and competitor countries

The best way to reach students is through the social media ads such as Facebook and Instagram, also ads placed on Google network and on YouTube videos.  Also, placing ads on certain websites of student interest such as educational institutions, technical pages, job search pages etc.

  • Students and parents’ resource for educational opportunities:

Students and parents receive most of this kind of information through their high school’s management and local educational agents.  Occasionally, there are guest lecturers at the high schools where students and parents learn about the opportunities.

  • Recommendations for U.S. study state consortia and educational institutions on the digital outreach strategies:

Advertising through social media is very important.  Sending guest lecturers to high schools to promote foreign institutions is recommendable since students don’t get enough of that information through their educational system.


The most important educational fair in Croatia is the Higher Education and Scholarships Fair taking place every year in the capital Zagreb, presenting study opportunities and student financial aid available in Croatia and abroad.  International and local exhibitors have a unique opportunity to present their institutions, study programs, scholarships and other educational services to over 10,000 Croatian students, parents, adult learners and higher education professionals. See more at:



Suzana Vezilic, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Croatia


Phone: + 385 1 661 2020