Higher Education in Serbia

Tertiary level institutions accept students based on their grades in high school and entrance exams results.

Upper schools (viša škola) last for 3 years. They correspond to professional universities. The difference is that professional universities last 3-8 years (just as normal ones do) and offer common tertiary degrees, while upper schools last only for 3 years and offer special upper school diploma. However, since Serbia signed Bologna Process in 2003, upper schools are to be reformed in accordance with it.

Faculties (fakultet) of universities (univerzitet) and art academies (akademija umetnosti) last for 4 years until baccalaureate, 5 years until magistracy and 8 years until doctorate. Only exception are the Medical schools, lasting for 6 years until Doctor of Medicine.

Serbia has 17 universities, of which 8 are public and 9 are private, 63 colleges of applied sciences, of which 47 are public and 17 are private, and 8 colleges of academic studies, of which 3 are public and 5 are private. Serbian citizens can study at public universities for free, while tuition is low for foreign students. Tuition costs at private schools vary.

Quaternary education
Postgraduate education (post-diplomske studije) was made of further specialization and doctorate during the times of Socialist Yugoslavia. However, the Bologna Process (which Serbia signed in 2003) abolished the quaternary education and incorporated it into the tertiary education. Specialization today is non-academic and considered as improvement in different parts of the profession (seminars, researches, etc.), and doctorate is considered as the third part of the bachelor-master-doctor continuum present in the tertiary educational system.

Academic ranks in Serbia

Saradnik u nastavi (graduate student instructor/teaching assistant - may teach entire courses or share course teaching with other GSIs/TAs)
Asistent (teaching assistant - usually teaching entire courses)
Docent (assistant professor)
Vanredni profesor (associate professor - non-tenured position)
Profesor (full professor - tenured position)
Profesor emeritus (professor emeritus)

Administrative ranks
Rektor (rector)
Dekan fakulteta (faculty dean)
Šef katedre (department chair)

Research ranks
Istraživač pripravnik (research trainee or junior researcher)
Istraživač saradnik (research assistant)
Naučni saradnik (research associate or assistant research professor)
Viši naučni saradnik (senior research associate or associate research professor)
Naučni savetnik (principal research fellow or full research professor)

University career usually begins with an "assistant" academic position. "Assistant" assists to the professor or lecturer, helps in performing exercises or, sometimes, also gives lectures, under the supervision of the professor. "Assistant", however, is not permitted to hold a chair, or to examine students alone. The level of the "assistant" does not require a Ph.D. but a "Magister" or, in recent times, a "Master" degree.

The next level is reserved for Ph.D. holders only (except in the arts: visual, performing arts, music, film etc.) where "Magisterium" is the highest degree). It is called "docent" (in Latin "instructor", "lecturer", "teacher") and is approximately equivalent to the Assistant Professor level in the English-speaking areas. Unlike "assistant", "docent" is permitted to give lectures independently, to be examiner, supervisor of paper works and theses, and to even hold a chair in a certain subject. It can also happen that more persons are employed within one chair (e.g. nuclear physics): a full professor, "docent" and "assistant" for instance. In that case, the full professor is normally a chair-holder, while "docent" and "assistant" are chair-related. If this is the case, "docent" usually has some kind of dependence upon the professor, but still possesses much independence, unlike the "assistant".

After four or five years or more (exceptions are rare), and a significant scientific record, "docent" can be elected to become "vanredni profesor" ("professor extraordinary"), which is approximately equivalent to the Associate Professor position, or re-elected once for the same (docent) position. The rank of the "vanredni profesor" is normally the minimal requirement for the highest Faculty and University positions, such as Dean of the Faculty, member of the University Senate or Rector. In the process of electing an associate professor, just those members of the Department, Faculty or University, who hold associated- or full- professorship are able to vote.

After four or five years and significant score of publications, "vanredni profesor" can be re-elected once for the same position, or elected into the next and the highest University and scientific title of "redovni profesor" ("regular professor") - the (Full) Professor. "Redovni profesori", the full professors, are permanently employed and thus do not require further electing processes, that take place for all other university teaching positions, normally after four or five years.

The title of "Emeritus" Professor should usually be granted to small number of professors who had extraordinarily academic and scientific score, as well as to all former Rectors.

When students address teaching staff, they typically use the title "professor" for everyone, including docents and assistants, and even for teachers in secondary education ("gymnasiums" and other schools).

The research positions equivalent to teaching positions are as follows: naučni saradnik (research assistant professor) corresponds to "docent", "viši naučni saradnik" (research associate professor) corresponds to "vanredni profesor" and "naučni savetnik" (research professor) corresponds to (full) professor. Similarly to teaching positions, researchers are elected to the next degree after typically five years. The first two positions are eligible to one-time re-election, while the highest position (full research professor) is permanent. A set of regulations defines minimum quantitative and qualitative academic achievements for each of the research positions.

Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other former Yugoslav countries have the same system with only minor variations in the terminology. For example, in Croatia the "irregular professor" is "izvanredni profesor" instead of "vanredni profesor".