Upper secondary education

The Secondary School Graduates' Parade, an annual event featuring a quadrille dance performed by secondary school graduates in the streets of different cities in Slovenia and its neighbouring countries. Photo: Primož Lavre

In Slovenia post-compulsory education begins with upper secondary education . It is divided into general upper-secondary education, technical upper-secondary education and vocational upper-secondary education. 

Following the completion of compulsory education, approximately 98% of students continue their education at upper-secondary level.  40% of students enrol onto general courses, more than 30% of students enrol onto technical courses, while others (approx. 30%) enrol onto short vocational upper-secondary courses. A small percentage of students (less than 2%), who do not enrol onto secondary education courses after the completion of their compulsory schooling, choose either to enrol onto vocational training courses, to enter the labour market, or to repeat  the grade 9 of elementary school in order to improve their grade for the overall success.

The main objectives of secondary education in Slovenia are:

  • to provide all residents with opportunities to acquire upper-secondary level of education;
  • to enable all residents to acquire the highest level of education possible while maintaining high   standards of knowledge;
  • to increase the level of creativity of the highest number of residents possible and to foster the development of society;
  • to enable students' involvement in the European integration processes.

General upper-secondary education

Gimnazije offer students (aged 15-18) four years of general education aimed at upgrading and extending the knowledge gained during compulsory education. The primary missions of gimnazije are:

  • to give students the knowledge and skills in accordance with international quality education standards that  they need to continue their education at universities or other institutions of tertiary education;
  • to develop critical judgement and responsibility;
  • to foster responsibility towards themselves and towards other people and the environment; to develop general cultural and civilisation values;
  • to prepare them for active citizenship;
  • to encourage creativity and to develop the ability of artistic expression and the perception of artistic work; and
  • to support decisions concerning further education and professional careers.

The emphasis is on subjects and topics, such as mother tongue, literature, national identity, history and culture, the development and preservation of cultural heritage and education about other cultures and civilisations. Upon the completion of gimnazija, students undertake state wide external examinations (Matura), which allow them to enrol into any type of tertiary education course. Those who fail to complete gimnazija and/or do not wish to pursue further education, can acquire professional and vocational skills and knowledge in short 1-year vocational courses, after the completion of which they can search for a suitable job in the labour market.


Gimnazije provide various types of courses with different specialises. All courses last 4 years. Gimnazije are divided into two major groups: 

  • Gimnazije with no specific fields of study, which can however organize some classes with a special interests.
  • Specialist gimnazije:  - Technical gimnazije, which offer a range of technical subjects from various technical fields (engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, construction and building, wood engineering, nutrition and agriculture);  - Gimnazije specialized in economics;  - Gimnazije specialized in arts, which are additionally subdivided to Music, Dance, Arts, Theatre and Drama.

There are two other general upper-secondary schools, which offer the 2-year International Baccalaureate courses (UNESCO,UN) in Year 3 and 4 of gimnazija and the programme of International school in English language. Citizens from other EU members have the right to receive upper-secondary education under the same conditions as Slovenian citizens. 

Gimnazija Bežigrad (High School of Bežigrad)

Gimnazija Bežigrad had already adopted the programme of international baccalaureate, in cooperation with International Schools Association, UNESCO and European Council of International Schools. The school Gimnazija Bežigrad is authorised by the IBO to run the Middle Years Programme (13-16) and International Baccaulaureate Diploma Programme (16-19). The Middle Years Programme for students from 13 to 16 has subjects in: English, German and Slovene, history and geography, biology, chemistry and physics, math, arts, sports and computers. Across the different subjects are five areas of interaction (approaches to learning, community service, health, social education, environment, developing creativity). Grades on the scale from 1-7 are given at the end of the year. The IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous pre-university course of studies for students from 16 to 19. It’s designed as a two-year curriculum in English. They study six subjects they choose and have to write an extended essay, attend the Theory of knowledge and Creativity, Action, Service (the life outside the world of scholarship). Currenty, there are approx. 60 students.

Address: Peričeva 4, Ljubljana, 


The Second Gymnasium, Maribor

The program of International Baccalaureate is identical to the one at the Gymnasium of Bežigrad and all the other schools with the program. This autumn they expect first foreign students of different nationalities.

Address: Trg Miloša Zidenška 1, Maribor,  


Students may enrol in the gimnazija after the successful completion of elementary school. One of the important criteria for enrolment is their overall success grade in elementary school, although schools may specify additional admission criteria.


The language of instruction in gimnazije is Slovenian. However in areas where members of the Italian national minority live, some schools provide secondary education in Italian (with Slovenian as a compulsory second language), while others offer education in Slovenian (with Italian as a compulsory second language). Gimnazija in the area where members of the Hungarian national minority live provide bilingual education (in Slovenian and Hungarian).


Gimnazije schooling is free. Privately-owned gimnazije receive public funding (to cover at least 85 % of the public gimnazije costs), based on their compliance with the statutory requirements for the provision of general education. They may also collect admission fees (which are not very high) from their students. Publicly-owned gimnazije are also entitled to charge fees for certain services (i.e., learning materials, excursions, etc).

The State pays for students' medical health insurance and subsidises school meals and school transportation, depending on the social status of an individual student's family. The State is also responsible for the organisation of the network of school dormitories, where students from distant and/or remote locations can reside during their education. Students have to pay for their residence in dormitories (approx. 90 €/month). They must pay also for their study books, although they can as well borrow them. The state encourages the formation of "textbooks funds".


Coursework consists of 45-minute lessons, organised by subject, together with exercises and practical work, compulsory elective contents, excursions, seminar work, project work and individual work. Organised school work may comprise at most 36 lessons per week (from 32 to 36 lessons). Teaching time is spread over 5 days per week and 38 weeks per school year (from 1 September to the second half of June). School activities consist of 35 weeks of coursework plus three weeks of compulsory elective contents.

The school year is divided into terms.  Assessment grades are given in the end of each term.

For more information about the Curriculum and the syllabus, assessment and progression please consult the website of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. 

Vocational and technical upper-secondary education

Upper secondary vocational and technical education and training are divided into 20 broad technical/vocational fields within which several courses are available. Courses differ in their length (including number of credit points), admission criteria, options for the continuation of education, level of vocational standards for the specific profession and levels of qualification. Young people and adults can acquire vocational qualifications through alternative means outside the formal school system, by participating in the certified national vocational qualification scheme. Adults, who have acquired a secondary vocational qualification and have at least 3 years of work experience, may acquire a secondary technical education by taking a master craftsman, foreman or managerial examination with the competent association.

 The objectives of vocational and technical education and training are to develop key competences, skills and vocational qualifications at an internationally comparable level and to provide knowledge and skills for employment, further education and lifelong learning. All courses include general education for continuous personal development, environmental studies and personal health care. Every vocational or technical course must also contain subjects aimed at: the development of communication skills; the development of knowledge and awareness, learning about national integrity, national identity, one's own cultural tradition as well as other cultures and civilisations, the development of talents and training for artistic expression and perception of arts. Courses must be provided at an internationally comparable level and must enable participants' involvement in the European labour market.


For more information about the types and organisations of schools, curriculum ant the syllabus, assessment and progression please consult the website of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport.