Access to education


Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 22/04/22


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According to the LITP, beneficiaries of international protection have the right to elementary, secondary and higher education under the same conditions as Croatian citizens, pursuant to separate regulations.[1]

Asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection shall exercise the right to adult education as well as the right to recognition of foreign qualifications pursuant to the regulations on adult education under the same conditions as Croatian citizens.

For asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection, who for justified reasons are not able to provide the necessary documentation to prove their foreign qualifications, an assessment shall be conducted of their prior learning.  The assessment of the prior learning of beneficiaries of international protection shall be conducted by a competent body, pursuant to the regulations governing regulated professions and recognition of foreign vocational qualifications.

A decision to refuse an application for recognition of foreign vocational qualifications cannot be based exclusively on the fact that no official documents exist to prove a specific foreign vocational qualification.

If an asylee or foreigner under subsidiary protection does not have sufficient financial resources available, the translation of foreign documents for the purpose of recognition of foreign qualifications shall be provided from the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia, under the item of the Ministry competent for education.

To be included into the education system, beneficiaries must have a certificate of their status in Croatia, a certificate of residence, an identity document (e.g. birth certificate, identity card, passport or relevant document of the Ministry of Interior) and a document of previous education. If it is not possible to enclose a document on previous education, it is necessary to give a statement to the notary public, which is then presented to the school’s professional service to organise an enrolment test in order to determine the class that the candidate can attend.

Centre for Peace Studies reported several problems in the educational system: difficulties with the recognition of qualifications and nostrification of diplomas when persons have documents proving their education, as well as a lack of customised procedures for recognition of qualifications when they do not have documents.[2]

AYS reported that in the course of 2021, they continued to provide educational support to children granted international protection i.e. 79 volunteers provided 2,866 hours of educational support to 51 school aged children from 22 families.[3] The support programme included support in language learning, mastering school materials, cooperation with schools and mediation in communication between parents and the school. Due to the COVID-19 situation and online classes, AYS purchased the necessary computers to monitor classes for some families. AYS also reported that children who came to Croatia through family reunification cannot be enrolled in school for months due to delays in the issuance of residence permits by the Ministry of Interior.

The Croatian Red Cross reported that their volunteers assisted children in mastering the school curriculum. In 2021, CRC distributed 57 packages of school supplies for children attending primary school.[4] For the New Year’s holidays, CRC handed out a gift voucher amounting to HRK 400.00 – i.e. around 50 EUR –  to children up to 15 years of age. A total of 82 gift vouchers were distributed to children in Zagreb, Sisak, Karlovac and Zadar.

In 2021, Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) published the thematic report” Education of Children of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Republic of Croatia – (In) readiness for quality inclusion in the education system”.[5] The report analyses the response of the Republic of Croatia to the needs of children, with a specific focus on access to education but also the identified difficulties and existing legislative framework. In addition, the report provides examples of good practices.

In addition, particularly vulnerable groups such are young people over the age of 15 who have not completed primary schools These young people do not meet the conditions for inclusion in primary education, and therefore they also do not meet the conditions for inclusion in secondary education. The State Administration Office recommends an adult educational programme for them with the aim of completing primary school.

The Ministry of Education organises language courses, but they remain at elementary level, while faculties require higher levels of language proficiency, most commonly B2 or C1. Thus, although by law they have the right to access higher education in Croatia, most beneficiaries of international protection would have to invest a considerable amount of their own money to be able to apply for enrolment.[6]

The Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma (RCT) reported that Croatian language courses are sporadic and that beneficiaries of international protection do not get the right to language learning soon enough after their status is approved. There is also no (publicly announced) plan when the courses will be available and where. In addition RCT reported that learning of Croatian language at higher levels is not provided, which in particular prevents the inclusion of young people in higher education, either due to the criteria set for enrolment or due to their insufficient level of language proficiency for learning.[7]

Centre for Peace Studies (CPS)  also reported obstacles in the access of beneficiaries granted international protection to higher education in practice in 2021. [8] Although, they have the right to higher education similarly to Croatian citizens, there is no specific category for enrolling persons granted international protection to faculties, so they are enrolled either as other foreigners, which means they have to pay high tuition fees, or as Croatian citizens – which means that they have to take state graduation exam. There is also the problem of non-recognition of foreign educational qualifications in cases where beneficiaries have documents to prove their previous education. In addition, problems arise in the exercise of most of the rights enjoyed by full-time students, such as the right to subsidized accommodation and meals or the possibility of obtaining a scholarship.

For students who have insufficient knowledge of the Croatian language, the school is obliged to organise preparatory classes, but according to Centre for Peace Studies (CPS)  and AYS, practice has shown that the process of organising preparatory classes is extremely long and children often wait several months before such classes are approved. Also, some children have to go to another school for preparatory classes, and as a result, they are not attending part of their classes at their own school.[9] CPS also reported that in practice schools are not well prepared  and there is an insufficient number of teaching assistants. In addition, schools are often not informed about the rights of beneficiaries of international protection, so it is questionable whether they received the necessary support from the Ministry of Science and Education. There are also problems in accessing higher education even though beneficiaries of international protection have the right to higher education under the same conditions as Croatian citizens. However when enrolling in college there is no specific category for enrolling them, so they are therefore enrolled like all other foreigners – which means paying higher tuition fees, or as Croatian citizens – which means that they have to take additional state graduation exam.

Between 2018 and 2020, the number of students under international protection included in primary education (101) for whom preparatory classes have been approved was at its highest in 2019. That year, the total number of approved classes for learners of Croatian (7,070) and the total number of approved Croatian classes including methodical preparation for teachers (10,605) were at their highest as well. In 2020 and 2021, the number of students belonging to this category decreased significantly, especially in 2021, when only 29 students granted international protection attended primary school.




[1]        Article 70 LITP.

[2]         Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 10 January 2022.

[3]        Information provided by Are you Syrious, 7 February 2022.

[4]        Information provided by CRC, 4 January 2022.

[5]        Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 10 January 2022. See:

[6]        H’alter, Faculties are difficult to access for asylees, available at:

[7]        Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma, 14 January 2022.

[8]        Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 10 January 2022.

[9]         Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies,  10 January 2022 and Are You Syrious, 7 February 2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation