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.
Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia, is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It is a landlocked country, bordered by Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; Macedonia to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro to the west. Serbia is an upper-middle income economy and has made largest progress in the region in terms of overall democracy scores and overall economic and governance transformation.
Serbia is a Central Eastern country having borders with Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Bulgaria. The capital city is Belgrade. Natural resources include coal, petroleum, natural gas and many metals; major industries include agriculture, food processing, metals, textiles, mining, automobiles and furniture. Serbia’s central location gives it a major advantage in transporting goods across Europe, and a major portion of the country’s economy focuses on exports. The language is Serbian and the currency is the Serbian Dinar, abbreviated RSD.
The climate in Serbia is generally moderate, but varies significantly around the country due to differences in terrain, bodies of water and vegetation. Higher elevations are generally rainier and cooler. The warmest temperatures in Belgrade occur in July or August and usually reach a maximum of 28 degrees C. The lowest temperatures in Belgrade occur in January and are about -3 degrees C. Most months will see about 12 days of precipitation, although February and March are the driest months.
Serbia has a very modern, international culture that is a mixture of eastern and western cultures. Much of the Serbian language is derived from the Turkish language, and most traditional Serbian dishes are based on Asian specialties. Serbian Orthodox monasteries dating back to the 13th century maintain collections of rare art and books from the Middle Ages and the country, despite its small size, boasts more than 2100 cultural monuments, 72 historical compounds, 167 archeological sites and 71 landmarks.
Cost of Living
International students in Serbia must generally find their own housing; however, the cost of living is quite low. One bedroom apartments can be rented for about €150-200 per month and utilities and Internet add about another €125 per month. Students are allowed to work part-time on their student visa if they find they need additional income.
International students studying in Serbia for longer than 90 days will need a temporary residence visa. In addition to a passport, application form and photo, prospective students must provide proof of their planned studies in Serbia as well as proof that they have sufficient funds for their stay. The application should be submitted to the Serbian embassy or consulate in the student’s home country; however, students are allowed to enter Serbia on a tourist visa and apply for the temporary residence visa after arriving. The temporary residence visa normally takes about 3 weeks to obtain.