Between the Market and Solidarity: Commercializing Development Aid and International Higher Education in Socialist Yugoslavia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how self-managed faculties in socialist Yugoslavia adopted market mechanisms in the 1970s and 1980s to attract international students and thus contributed to a commercialization of higher education. In the 1950s, Yugoslavia became a destination for students from postcolonial states because of its nonaligned politics. While Yugoslav officials first emphasized aid to students through scholarships, this article argues that projects based on profit seeking began to dominate thinking about aid in the late 1960s. Using archival records in Croatia and Serbia as well as UNESCO and World Bank reports, this article shows how domestic and international factors influenced these changes. Domestically, decentralizing political reforms and decreased funding for higher education allowed republic policy makers to disconnect technical aid from political priorities and to pursue self-financing international students. Detached from centralized policy making, Yugoslav university and republic leaderships, primarily in SR Croatia and SR Serbia, chose the immediate profits of international students over long-Term investments in scholarship students. Internationally, reforms promoted by UNESCO and the World Bank shifted aid away from university training abroad to vocational training in situ. These new policies complemented an emerging international division of labor suited more to the economic interests of OECD states and multinational corporations than developing states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-482
Number of pages21
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • development aid
  • higher education
  • nonalignment
  • socialism
  • Yugoslavia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Between the Market and Solidarity: Commercializing Development Aid and International Higher Education in Socialist Yugoslavia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this