Zagreb University Day was marked on Tuesday with a ceremony attended by senior government and City of Zagreb officials, who supported its programmes that bring in money and help create jobs.
University head Damir Boras submitted a report on the university's activities and university professors and students were given honorary titles and awards.
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic congratulated Zagreb University, noting that it was the only Croatian institution not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution without which the country could not do.
"Zagreb University operates as a state budget beneficiary but it must enter the market. That does not mean that higher education will have to be paid for, but the university must enter the market because the Croatian economy is predominantly a market economy," Milanovic said dismissing criticisms that Croatia was heavily burdened by the cost of its public sector, saying that only about 20% of the 1.5 million workers in Croatia were employed in the public sector and received salaries from the state budget.
"We have to create conditions for as many young people as possible to opt for studies that are in demand and that is partly a political issue, within the government's remit, which is why the government encourages studying for engineering professions, and why Zagreb University, as any other university, must promote competence, discipline and competition with the world's best," the PM said.
Science, Education and Sports Minister Vedran Mornar commented on the criticism that the government and his ministry were not working on the promotion of the research sector, saying that none of the employees in the education sector had been laid off despite a severe recession, with GDP having dropped 13%.
We have given everything we could give, the number of scholarships has doubled in the last year of the government's term and their number will go up next year as well, we have created 1,500 jobs for the most successful young people so that they can stay in Croatia and contribute with their competence here, Mornar said.
The government is working to improve the quality of students' living standards, to renovate dorms, and in the coming period it will invest around 1 billion euros in programmes related to education and science, Mornar said. He, too, urged the university to become more market-oriented.