Should I study abroad in Bosnia? 

Source: Wikipedia

Should I study abroad in Bosnia?  How does a degree compare with one from Germany? USA?

If you are an American who struggles to pay for college tuition whose cost has skyrocketed in the past ten years you may be looking for some options to study abroad in another cheaper and culturally rich countries. When you google where to study abroad you will probably be bombarded with study programs in England, China, or Sweden.  Although you know that those countries are great you are aware of additional hidden costs (whether that be plane flight, food, or living arrangements). You then search for more affordable countries where google search takes you to hidden gems of Eastern Europe (Hungary, Czech Republic, and even Bosnia and Herzegovina). These are all excellent travel locations with old cities, delicious and cheap food, housing and college tuition, but you then start to wonder. Should I study abroad in Bosnia?  How does a degree compare with one from Germany? USA?


We broke down the statistics for you so that you will have a clear image whether or not studying in Bosnia is a good financial decision for you.

Bosnian Higher Educational Institution

According to a 2009/2010 study done by the EACEA (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency) of the European Union there are 105,137 students enrolled in 43 higher educational institutes in Bosnia.  18,177 of these were graduate students.  The institutes of higher education include 24 universities (8 public and 16 private), 17 colleges (visoka skola), and 2 private faculties.  There were  8,439 professors and assistants, out of which 5 822 in Bosnia and  8 439 professors 2,617 in the Republic of Sprksa.   While there is a Federal Ministry of Education and Science due to the nature of politics there is actually 12 different higher education “systems” that exist in the country: 10 in Bosnia, 1 in the Republic Srpska, and 1 in Brčko District.  This is a problem in that each of the 12 systems funds their education system differently.

Scholarship and financial aid are awarded to students based on only their exams scores and not financial merit.  Those not achieving high enough exams scores can still attend higher education if they self-finance.

For the purposes of this study we will focus on the following higher educational institutes as they are seen as the most prestigious in Sarajevo

  • University of Sarajevo (UNSA)
  • International University of Sarajevo (IUS)
  • International Burch University (IBU)
  • Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST)
  • American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AUBiH)

Tuition Cost

If you are not Bosnian and wish to study in this country you are probably looking at the International Universities where you will be taught by top notch faculty staff fully in English language. Some of the well known and the most expansive Universities in Bosnia are as follow:


University Name International Student Website EU Accreditation Type
University of Sarajevo (UNSA) $7,500 Yes EUA (European Union Accreditation) Non-Profit
International University of Sarajevo (IUS) $6,300 USD (10k BAM) Yes ENQA (European Union Accreditation) Non-Profit
International Burch University (IBU)  $6,300 USD (10k BAM) Yes ERAMUS (European Union Accreditation) For-Profit
Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST)  ~$9,000 USD Yes Collaborates with University of Buckingham, England For-Profit
American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AUBiH)  ~$10,000 USD Yes

 (They lost all accreditations as ACICS is no longer an accrediting agency)

A few US schools have study abroad programs here.


*There are many other universities that can be found in Bosnia but the universities in the capitol serve as a quick sample of the variation you may find.

Costs, non-profit status, and accreditation vary widely between these schools.  The number of students, class sizes, types of professors, and, whether English is spoken are also considerable issues we did not look at.  The University in Sarajevo or UNSA is the biggest and oldest University in Bosnia that began operating around WWII with its main focus being in agriculture and forestry. Today, UNSA has expended into many more fields including law, biochemistry, and engineering.

Source: Wikimedia

A lot of these schools are funded partially by the government international students typically spend double what Bosnian students pay. For example for IBU (International Burch University) the tuition cost  is 6,000.00 KM (1 year, in state students) and 10,000.00 KM (1 year, international students).

Cost of Living

Living in Bosnia just like the rest of Eastern Europe is a third or half the cost of Western Europe, the United States, or Australia.  We previously discussed that depending on your lifestyle you can live anywhere from $300 a month eating rice and beans to $1,400 a month in a mid-class lifestyle.  Bosnia is roughly as expensive as other Eastern European countries as well as Central and Southern American countries but more expensive than Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia.

Diploma Mills and Bogus Universities

There has been recent news of fake universities in Bosnia.  As mentioned before having 12 higher education systems in a small country can lead to widespread corruption and deceit.  There are many saying in Bosnia about visiting certain towns, “You come for the cevapi and by the time your waiter brings you your lunch you have a business degree”.  The consequence to fake degrees is that employers mistrust higher education institutions, most notably private for profit types refusing to accept these degrees as legitimate.  Nevertheless as the article states, the number of students enrolled in private colleges is growing. “All that matters is to get a degree”, says a student.  And again there is the harsh reality of high unemployment and high emigration out of Bosnia.

Source: Sabic-El-Rayess and Mansur 2016

A 2016 published study by two American researchers found that at least a third of students surveyed found widespread corruption in Bosnian schools.  The vast majority of students, 75% admitted there was corruption.

Source: Sabic-El-Rayess and Mansur 2016

The researchers pointed out that corruption took on many forms mainly being teachers accepting bribes in the form of connections, barter system type deals, or bribes.

The Harsh Reality of Post-Employment Prospects

Unemployment in Bosnia is extremely high even with degrees.

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database. Data retrieved in March 2017.

Young people are leaving the country in ever increasing numbers.  Roughly 20,000 people left Bosnia in 2016.  This number is a fifth of the number of students in the country itself.

Source: World Bank Group


Pljeskavica and somun bread Source: Wikimedia

Knowledge is the great equalizer of our society today. Highly intelligent individuals from poor backgrounds are allowed to flourish in a system where the best and brightest are rewarded. In Western countries such as America wealthy families purchase educations for their sons and daughters in forms of substantial donations to colleges and universities. In essence the older Western European higher education corrupt systems are institutionalized whereas Bosnian higher education is rather young and still prone to “growing pains” of clear corruption.

As an international student be aware that Professors and Universities sometimes accept corruption just as American Colleges accept corruption for the sake of their sports program.  Bosnia has a booming technology sector, a unique mix of cultures, traditions, and history, and is home to many different issues the world is facing today.  Studying abroad for a semester or the entire degree in Bosnia will open your eyes and give you unique insight into the world.

7 thoughts on “Should I study abroad in Bosnia? 

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