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Palkovics: V4 to boost cooperation on higher education

The Visegrad Group (V4) countries on Friday signed a letter of intent on the mutual and automatic recognition of each other's higher education degrees.

Addressing a V4 summit organised by the Szechenyi Istvan University in Gyor, in north-western Hungary, Innovation and Technology Minister Laszlo Palkovics said that though cooperation between Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia on higher education was effective, there was still room for improvement. Hungary has therefore made it a goal to improve relations between the four countries’ universities during its V4 presidency, he added.

Palkovics noted that the Hungarian government in 2014 embarked on a programme to bring universities and colleges closer to market players. Another aim, he said, had been for Hungarian higher education institutions to strengthen cooperation with their international partners. Since then, participation by Hungarian students in Erasmus programmes has increased by 65-70 percent and international students now make up at least 15 percent of all students at Hungarian universities and colleges, the minister said.

As a first step in its higher education reform, the government in 2014 transformed the university research system, with the second phase encompassing a restructuring of the country’s universities, Palkovics noted.

So far 21 Hungarian universities have shifted from being state-run to being operated by an asset management foundation, as modelled after private universities in Finland, Austria and other countries, he said, adding that six universities were still operated by the state.

Slovak education ministry official Marek Moska said the mutual recognition of V4 degrees would contribute to the establishment of a European Education Area by 2025.

Tibor Bial, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Hungary, said the Czech education ministry was working on a plan to automate the recognition of European Union degrees.

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