Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe


Stakeholder Survey Overview

As part of our research we carried out a survey of Education & Training stakeholders. Find the results of this survey below or download it..

Legislation & Policy Overview

The following section gives an overview of the national PHE environment within Croatia. The profile was completed by Vijeće veleučilišta i visokih škola.

Section A: General Profile of PHE

1. How is PHE defined in your country?

Universities and University colleges of Applied Sciences are established for the delivery of higher education of professional study programs  and can perform professional, scientific and artistic activities in accordance with the Law on Science and Higher Education.  Professional study programs can be also delivered at Classic Universities although in the country a binary system has been proclaimed and by the law Classic Universities were supposed to phase out professional programs by year 2010 what did not happen.

1.1 What is your nationally recognised definition of a PHE Institution?

Professional studies provide students with an appropriate level of knowledge and skills to perform professional activities and educating them for immediate employment process. Professional studies include two levels: professional studies and graduate professional studies. They follow Bologna principles (3+2 years of study;  and 180+120 ECTS).

1.2 Are there any specific requirements towards PHE Curriculum/Course?

Yes they should have at least 50:50 theoretical vs. practical  ( hands-on).

2. Which EQF Levels does PHE cover?

EQF Level 5 – Yes
EQF Level 6 – Yes
EQF Level 7 – Yes
EQF Level 8 – No

Commentary:  EQF level 8. This does not exist.  It is possible only to institutions that have scientific research projects and are registered for scientific research, etc. I think that in Croatia in case of  PHE it is not the case.

3. Which governmental bodies are responsible for governance of the PHE sector? Do these differ from the governance of AHE? Is there any engagement of any other public authorities and which, if so?

Government bodies in charge: Ministry of science, education and sports, Agency for science and Higher education, Council of universities and University colleges of applied sciences. Governance of PHE and AHE differ because AHE have autonomy and PHE do not have it.

4. Quality assurance: Please provide information on quality-related legislation (national QA/accreditation system, regulations concerning QA at institutional level etc.). Are there any specific QA criteria for PHE? If so, which (if necessary, refer to specific EQF levels or institutions)?

In accordance with Act on Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education the Agency for Science and Higher education (ASHE) is the only national agency responsible for external QA activities in the system of higher education and science.  ASHE carries out the following external QA activities: initial accreditation, reaccreditation, thematic evaluation and audit.  All new HEIs are obliged to undergo the initial accreditation procedure (institutional accreditation) carried out by ASHE, regardless of whether they are PHE or AHE institutions. There is a difference between PHE and AHE institutions when it comes to the procedure of approving new study programs (program accreditation) at already existing HEIs: new study program proposed by PHE institution is obliged to undergo initial accreditation procedure carried out by ASHE while new study program proposed by public AHE institution (public university) is established and implemented by a decision of a university senate on the basis of assessment by internal QA system.  All public and private HEIs (PHE and AHE institutions) are obliged to undergo reaccreditation procedure in five years cycles. Reaccreditation is carried out by ASHE. The possible outcomes of the reaccreditation procedure are: issue accreditation, deny accreditation, issue letter of expectation. There is no difference in reaccreditation procedure of PHE and AHE institutions.  Criteria for initial accreditation and reaccreditation are proscribed by the Ordinance on the Content of License and Conditions for Issuing License for Performing Higher Education Activity, carrying out a Study Program and Re-accreditation of Higher Education Institutions. Most of the criteria proscribed are joint for both PHE and AHE institutions. The exceptions are criteria related to the number of fully employed teaching staff (33% for PHE institution and 50% for AHE institution), qualifications of teaching staff (at PHE institutions teachers should be appointed into teaching grades: lecturer, senior lecturer and college professor while at AHE institutions they should be appointed into scientific-teaching grade assistant professor, associate professor and full professor) and criteria related to overall research activity*.

Commentary: *According to Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education Universities and their constituents implement activities related to higher education, scientific, professional and artistic activities, as well as other activities pursuant to law and their statute. According to the same Act Universities of Applied Sciences and University Colleges of Applied Sciences implement activities related to higher education activities in the form of organizing and implementing professional studies. They may also implement professional, scientific or artistic activities pursuant to this Act and statute. 

5. Are there any specific funding mechanisms/principles/criteria for PHE, different from general HE principles?

There are no specific funding mechanisms.

6. Are there any formal requirements for stakeholders, in particular from the part of the professional sphere/employers’ representatives concerning their engagement in PHE steering and provisions? If so, in which areas (governance, quality assurance, curriculum development, students’ placement etc.)?

Ministry has influence in the governance of PHE through managing boards of five people (three of five members of the managing boards are appointed by the Ministry).  Stakeholders, like employers, have an influence through the “economy councils” that are established within some institutions and which are serving as advisory bodies when it comes to study program definition and quality assurance.

7. Are there any other legislative differences between PHE and other HE institutions (e.g. partnership with enterprises, regional involvement etc.)?


8. Is PHE limited to some specific branches and/or fields of study? If yes: Which ones?


Section B: Teaching & Staffing

1. Are there any formally set requirements for academic staff teaching at different levels in PHE (e.g their qualification, expertise, selection & appointment)? Are they different from AHE?

Yes there are requirements for teachers in PHE to have practical work experience.

2. Are there any specific requirements for PHE staff work (teaching/research) arrangements and workload? If so, which? How do they differ from AHE?

Workload of teachers in PHE is about 50% higher compared to  AHE. The reason is that teachers are not paid to perform scientific research work, so that is not included in their workload.

3. Are there requirements to include non-academia (professionals) to teach in PHE institutions? What qualifications must they have if any?

Only for the highest positions Ph.D. is required. For all other position AHE degree is required or PHE (3+2) ie. Graduate degree.

Section C: Curriculum

1. Are there any specific requirements as regards contents/structure (e.g. percentage of practically oriented modules) as regards PHE? If so, which? What are the differences with respect to AHE?

The request regarding the structure/content for each module to have at least 50% practical work or preferable even 60%.

2. Are there any specific requirements as regards practical elements of PHE study programmes (e.g. work experience/Practical placements/Internships)? If so, which? What are the differences with respect to AHE?

There are no differences.

3. Are there any other legal requirements specific for PHE programs?


Section D: Research & Technology Transfer

1. What is the involvement of PHE in R&D&I&TT activities? Are there any formal differences at different levels/institutions of PHE?

Teachers in PHE are not paid by the government for R&D activities. PHE institutions do not have by default a status of “Scientific” institutions but that status can be awarded upon HE institution request when they satisfy certain conditions.

Commentary: PHE still perform R&D and scientific research but this work is not financed by the state.

2. Are public research programs restricted to some types of HEIs (e.g. academic sector)? If so, what are the criteria?

PHE is not allowed to receive this kind of financing unless they have “scientific” status. The rules are set so that for a PHE is quite hard to achieve that status.

Section E: Recognition & Credit Transfer

1. Are there formal differences in the enrolment process into PHE and AHE?


2. Are there formal paths for transfer from PHE into other HE programmes (for graduates, during the study)? Are there automatic transfers for students between PHE and AHE? Do students need bridging programmes or other means of transition?

There are problems in transferring between PHE and AHE. AHE sets bridging programs that vary from institution to institution but in general are very demanding and in the nature represent preventions for transfer.  Transfer from PHE level 7 to AHE level 8 is not possible.

3. Are there any specific regulations concerning employment of PHE graduates? Do you need to justify delivery of certain PHE studies? e.g provide evidence of labour market needs or collect data on employability of graduates).

No specific regulations for PHE graduates. All delivery of PHE studies have to be by accredited institutions only and within accredited programs. When PHE programs are developed and submitted for accreditation we must provide the evidence of labor market needs for that program.

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