A Hungarian minister has admitted that significant changes are required to make the country’s universities sustainable.
Speaking on national television at the end of last month, László Palkovics, minister for higher education, noted that the Ministry of Human Capacities had identified systemic problems in 2013, and that attempts were made to address them in the higher education strategy the following year.
Now, in order to raise standards and tackle the issue of inadequate student numbers, the ministry had established joint working groups representing universities and students to identify what needs to be done. The results of their findings are likely to be finalised this month.
Mr Palkovics also mentioned some of the structural changes he had in mind, notably the creation of an independent veterinary university and a separate faculty of forestry at Sopron University, as well as the relocation of Budapest Corvinus University’s horticultural and food industry faculties to Szent István University.
In a separate development, Zoltán Balog, the minister of human capacities, has announced plans for the country to launch its own Erasmus programme enabling exchanges between Hungarian students in Hungary and abroad.
The detailed programme, due to be drawn up by September, should triple the number of Hungarian students studying abroad, enable academics to teach abroad while retaining their Hungarian salaries and remove the 5,000 limit on ethnic Hungarians from other countries studying in Hungary. It will become easier, for example, for ethnic Hungarians from Romania to enrol on master’s courses even if there are delays in their obtaining the necessary degree certificates.
The longer-term plan is to accredit Hungarian-language courses in all relevant areas of economics and social science at every university in neighbouring countries which offers tuition in Hungarian. Hungarian academics could play a central role in this process. From February 2016, therefore 25 to 30 of them will start working at universities abroad in disciplines which currently lack accreditation.