The University of Szeged – Photo: wikipedia

Education official: University modernisation key to competitiveness

Modernising Hungary's higher education sector and turning universities into innovation hubs is key to securing the country's competitiveness, the deputy state secretary for education said in an interview in daily Magyar Nemzet's Wednesday edition.

“Globally, we rank highly in almost every field of training,” Balazs Hanko of the Innovation and Technology Ministry told the paper, evaluating the results of the structural transformation and international rankings of Hungarian universities ahead of the Feb. 15 deadline for applying to university.

Today eleven Hungarian universities rank among the top 5 percent of the world’s 28,000 universities, “with two-thirds of our university students” studying in one of them, he said.

Increasing the number of university graduates is vital to the country’s economic development, Hanko said, noting that this year 350 bachelor and 400 master’s courses have been announced in 48 cities.

On the subject of the change to the model for how universities are run, Hanko noted that 21 Hungarian universities have gradually shifted from being state-run to being operated by an asset management foundation.

“The aim has been to provide universities a structure that allows them greater flexibility and autonomy so they can be competitive both at home and abroad,” Hanko said. “This is why we have provided them with the appropriate legal framework, institutional profiles and significant resources,” he said, noting a 2.5-fold increase in central funding.

Hanko said the Hungarian government this year has earmarked 1.9 percent of GDP for spending on higher education, which, he said, “only a few [countries] in Europe can proudly say”. Also, the government is planning to spend 2,700 billion forints (EUR 7.6bn) on university infrastructure development and building a network of science parks, Hanko noted.

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