PLANNING THE ELITE SCHOLARS OF THE KINGDOM OF SERBIA STUDYING ABROAD 1882 - 1914
In Serbia, the creation of elites is a process which started with the establishing of a modern state, where at the beginning, a narrow state-administration stratum had separated from the political elite of the uprising origin. Only since the beginning of the 19. century, gradually, other traditional elites were being separated, like clergy, officers, intelligentsia (consisting mainly of professors), the economic elite (founded by wholesalers), and others. With the development of the bourgeoisie, elites started to grow stronger, but their actual dimensions can be discerned only at the beginning of the 20. century. Unlike other environments, in Serbia there was no elite by birth, because there was no aristocracy, although examples of the existence of a "symbolic elite" can be documented in the form of "men of goof stock'. In the agrarian society of equal peasants which Serbia was, the most important factor for the separation of the elite was education. It enabled social promotion, i.e., the transition from a lower social stratum into a higher one and even into the highest. It was also a national task, because the country needed to form its own elite, namely a national elite, which would provide for the performance of basic state functions. This is why the state encouraged education and aspired to create professionals in areas which were under its control (army, administration, the judicial system, education, health care, etc.). In this way the state had a key role in creating elites, especially in the professionalization process, because it mostly had clearly defined needs, workplaces for the educated and the means to finance education (although, ever since the end of the century an increasing number of young people was being educated abroad using their own means).
The Serbian State, in the first decades of its existence, provided its needs for highly educated professionals by scholarships to students abroad. The aim was to send state scholars to the best schools of the time and to those making decisions this was a primary concern. The importance to study countries where the Serbian scholars were educated is, firstly, in the fact that this is a group from which the kernel of the state elite in Serbia originated. Namely, all the scholars were planned in advance for the performance of particular jobs in state and public services and were obliged to perform them at least twice as long than the time they had received the scholarship. They became in fact a "functional" elite, which was the spiritual and political spirit of the time. This elite, created by education, was then part of a narrow stratum of bourgeoisie, from which it had separated by professionalizaton as the first stratum of experts, establishing in this way the structure of a modern society.
During the period between 1882. and 1914, i.e., during 32 years from the 36 years of the existence of the Kingdom of Serbia, the state had, via its ministries, sent 853 scholars to be educated abroad. Most of them were sent to foreign universities, or higher education schools, but there were those who were educated in vocational schools to gain the skills necessary in a country in an early industrialization phase Also, in case of military scholars, not all of them went to high military schools, a part of them went to foreign armies for one or two-years instruction courses. This was constant practice since the middle eighties, especially for those sent to France, because their high military schools accepted foreign students only as an exception.
The largest number of scholars studied in the Austria-Hungary, where during these three decades, 318 young men and women (37.6%) were sent. The second country, with respect to the number of scholars, was Germany with 201 students (23.2%), Russia follows with 145 (16.7%), France with 132 i.e. 15.2%. Only 32 students were educated in Switzerland, in Belgium 21, in Italy 9, while only 4 were sent for specialization to Great Britain, one student was educated in Athens, and one in Madrid. 5% of these were women, which corresponds with the European average of the time. The largest number of students came from the Ministry of Army (361 ), the Ministry of Education educated 208 students, the Ministry of Interior 152 (mostly physicians), the Ministry of Construction 77 and the Ministry of National Economy 50.
These data depict somewhat the picture about the origin of the largest cultural influences, but they are not the only criterion. At the same time, analyses show that political relations with a certain country, except in situations of major crises and war conflicts, were not the decisive factor in the choice of universities where the young Serbian citizens were to be educated. It can be seen that the Kingdom of Serbia created its elite within the European civilizational circle aspiring that, according to education, it would be at the European level of the time.