The University of Szeged – Photo: wikipedia

Finance minister: Government spending on higher education at record high

The government is spending more on higher education than ever before, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said at a ceremony at Budapest's Obuda University marking the start of the academic year.

Spending on higher education has doubled compared with 2014, Varga said, noting that Hungary’s higher education budget has amounted to 1.2 percent of GDP compared with the European Union average of 0.8 percent.

Counting the country’s science parks, the Hungarian higher education sector will receive 960 billion forints (EUR 2.7bn) in funding next year, equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP, the minister said.

The government will also provide Hungary’s higher education institutions with a combined 2,700 billion forints that they have requested for developments for the coming years, Varga said.

The leaders of a country have a duty to invest in knowledge, as this is in the country’s economic interest, he added.

Hungary’s government expects universities to play a key role in the country’s R+D activities and the area of innovation, and to move up the international rankings, Varga said.

The new operational model that sees universities shifting from being state-run to being operated by foundations serves to boost competitiveness, give them a more flexible operating environment and greater professional independence, he said.

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