Secondary school is not compulsory and lasts from 3 to 4 years (grades). Students usually enter secondary school at the age of 15, upon completion of primary school.
The primary school final exam serves as an admission criterion, along with students’ school achievements (GPA) during their primary education. While students’ choices of schools are taken into account, better final exam results and GPAs increase the probability of desired school enrolment.
General secondary education
General secondary education in Serbia lasts 4 years and is usually followed by tertiary education, since students, upon completing it, are not qualified for the labour market. While the majority of schools are free public schools, there are some private and foreign schools as well. The general secondary education system includes the following:
- General gymnasiums as the most common form of general secondary education. These schools can primarily focus on either social or natural sciences, or they can equally cover both streamlines (general stream). Usually, students within the same gymnasium can decide which streamline they prefer. Some gymnasiums have bilingual classes, which means that a certain number of classes are taught in a foreign language.
- Secondary schools for the gifted for students with strong motivation, talents, skills and knowledge in a particular field:
- Mathematical gymnasium
- Philological gymnasium
- Gymnasium specializing in Physics
- Gymnasium specializing in ICT Sciences
- Special education secondary schools for students with severe learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
Vocational secondary education
Vocational secondary education in Serbia lasts 3 or 4 years and it prepares students for the labour market.
Although the Law on the Education System Foundations states that all students graduated from upper secondary education have access to higher education, most commonly this is only the case for students graduated from four-year programmes, while those whose studies lasted for three years have the option of taking special access to higher education courses. However, since higher education institutions have the autonomy of deciding on conditions of enrollment, some institutions decide to enroll students of 3-year secondary schools without requiring any additional courses. Some of the schools also provide 1 or 2-year specialization, apprenticeship and other forms of training (e.g. training of adults). While the majority of schools are free public schools, there are some private ones, as well as foreign schools.
Vocational secondary education includes schools that offer education and specialization in the following fields:
- Agriculture, Food Production and Processing
- Geodesy and Construction
- Economics, Law and Administration
- Natural Sciences and Mathematics
- Electrical Engineering
- Textile and Leather Industry
- Personal Services
- Mechanical Engineering and Metalworking
- Health and Social Care
- Geology, Mining and Metallurgy
- Forestry and Wood Processing
- Trade, Hospitality and Tourism
- Culture, Arts and Public Relations (including music and ballet secondary schools for talented students)