Hungarian tertiary education looks back on a past of eight decades. Its
evolution has been an integral part of global heritage and our national
The establishment of medieval Hungarian universities (
– Pécs 1367, Buda 1395, Pozsony 1467 – coincided with that of the
universities of Prague, Krakow, and Vienna, and the education they
offered matched the practice of European universities, and their
activities were governed by the spirit of the universitas.
The basic institutions of our present-day universities (
főiskola were founded in the 16-17th centuries. The predecessors of our
főiskola education were the
Academias of the Jesuits, Reformist
Collegia, and Lutheran
Lycea. The university (
egyetem) in Nagyszombat operated until 1635.
In the 18th century
provided education in tertiary level in the fields of mining,
engineering, agriculture, and economics, thereby laying the foundations
of specialisation during centuries to follow.
The 19th and the 20th centuries saw the system of
tertiary education reaching its state of completion regarding basic
branches of study, even if major events of our national history
re-designed the full set of institutions.
tertiary education recognised after 1947 could only be run by the
state. Institutions run by churches were nationalised; education, and
research were separated, and the university ( egyetem) did not get the right to award academic degrees.
In the early 50s the traditional European university structure was divided into professional (sectoral) groups. Besides
universities of scienceuniversities (
, ‘specialised’ in medicine, agriculture, economy, and technical education were established. In response to the needs of economy,
főiskolabecame likewise differentiated, a process bringing about
főiskola level institutions of teacher training for lower secondary education, for primary education, and pre-primary education. All (
főiskola belonged to the authority of several ministries.
tertiary education the reform process was inaugurated by the Act I of
1985 and its 1990 amendment. The legislation partly re-regulated the
main issues of tertiary education. It labelled universities ( egyetem) and
főiskolauniversitas,and improving the quality of tertiary education.
1993 a new, separate Act was passed on tertiary education. The Act
enabled the establishment of non-state, i.e. church and private
tertiary education institutions and guaranteed the recognition of the
egyetem) were allowed to offer university training
(egyetemi képzés)as well as
(főiskolai képzés), and similarly,
főiskolamay also launch courses of university
following accreditation. Tertiary education institutions run by
churches are increasingly engaging in education that is not related to
their religious profile, i.e. in secular courses recognised by the
Today there are 72 independent institutions of tertiary
education (listed in the section on institutions and legislation).
State maintained institutions of tertiary education number 31. There
are 18 universities ( egyetem), and 13
főiskola. Non-state maintained tertiary education institutions equal 4137, of which 276 are church maintained, 5 universities (
egyetem), and 22
főiskola. Of 14 private institutions of tertiary education there 2 are universities (
egyetem), and the rest are
separate Act LXXX of 1993 on Higher Education laid the foundations of
tertiary education, and defined the legal and organisational conditions
of the system operating up to the present time. The Act on Higher
as institutions of tertiary education. Progress was also made to
achieve the freedom of education, through limitation merely by
curricular guidelines. In that same period, the need arose for creating
uniform Hungarian tertiary education, and restoring the
1. established the maintenance of the dual set of institutions in tertiary education: university (
2. defined the criteria of freedom of education, learning, scientific research, and artistic creation, 3. restored scientific qualifications, organised PhD courses were returned to the universities’ competency, 4. created the legal predecessor of the Hungarian Accreditation Committee (
Magyar Akkreditációs Bizottság), responsible for academic quality accreditation in tertiary education, the Tertiary Education and Scientific Council (
Felsőoktatási és Tudományos Tanács) serving the purpose of expressing, and coordinating the interests of the academic, governmental, and economic branches,
5. terminated the fragmentation 6.
of institutions of tertiary education under several competent
ministries by making the legal predecessor of the present Ministry of
Education and Culture ( Oktatási és Kulturális Minisztérium),
then the Ministry of Culture and Public Education responsible for
performing the state’s general tasks in that area, and various duties
arising from operating tertiary education, 7. specified the levels of training:
(egyetemi képzés), and
(főiskolai képzés)at basic level and specialisation, plus higher academic degree (doctoral, ~PhD)
8. regulated the status of state and non-state (church and private) institutions.
The 1996 amendment of the Act on Higher Education:
1. integrated the two-year higher vocational training in the system of tertiary education, 2.
regulated the financial and subsidy arrangements of tertiary education,
ordering that tertiary education should be funded on a per-capita basis, 3. in accordance with the new option of fee-paying training
(költségtérítéses képzés), and new higher vocational training, it regulated the legal status of students, the tuition fee, and students’ allowances,
it supplemented the applicable regulations with the tasks of ministries
involved in education with their related responsibilities.
institutional structure of tertiary education continued to be
fragmented, consisting of numerous institutions of small numbers of
students, and of a narrow scientific profile. In spite of high
educational, and research standards, it resulted in rigidity in the
process of education, and slow response to changes in society, and a
relatively costly institution structure.
The Assembly (
Magyar Köztársaság Országgyűlése)
set the development targets for the tertiary education reform several
times. Following the Parliament resolution of 1995, financial incentive
was offered on the basis of the government decree through publishing a
call for applications for central, and other education related funding.
The target for the development was to modernise the institution
structure of tertiary education in a reasonable manner in line with the
network development plan. Additional objectives were to create a more
efficient use of training facilities, and also of the educational and
research infrastructure, eliminate duplication, design a uniform
management and financial system, operate institutions more
economically, and more effectively, reform the structure, and improve
the standards of education, create the conditions of cross-over by
employing a credit-system, and further diversify offer. Between 1997
and 1999 more than 12 billion HUF was spent on upgrading education and
research, and improving quality.
The new tertiary education development programme
related to our EU accession includes increasing admission levels,
supporting life-long-learning, modernising the tertiary education
institution network, further developing knowledge and forms of training
answering labour market needs, establishing regional centres of
knowledge and innovation, developing IT culture, expand kollégium
capacities, and in conjunction with that programme, the infrastructure
development programme supporting the medium term development plan of
institutions got underway.
Eventually, in 1999 the government made a proposal to
the Parliament concerning the reform of the fragmented structure of
tertiary education, and integrated institutions of tertiary education.
Legislation was passed to ensure ongoing operation of tertiary
education, and the fundamental rules of transformation.
resolution the government decided to go ahead with a reform plan of
regionalising the tertiary education institution structure, merging the
institutions operating in the same city, and bringing under one
umbrella/uniting institutions of tertiary education of similar or
identical profiles in Budapest into one. In the course of its reform
efforts the government took into account the commitment of the
institutions toward integration.
In upgrading the institution
system, the main objective is to arrive at a more effective institution
structure, i.e. create institutions of tertiary education that are
better sized for their professional and economic purpose and content,
have multifaceted profile, and respond more flexibly to the needs of
The institutions created on 1st January 2000, listed in
legislation were made to write down their medium-term institutional
development plans applicable to the improvement of the structure of
training, and reflecting a uniform organisation. Under the
infrastructure development programme the Ministry of Education ( Oktatási Minisztérium) signed development agreements with 11 institutions in order to implement a total of 50 billion HUF until 2002.
to introduce the credit system in Hungarian tertiary education were
undertaken in 1998. The system was eventually launched in several
institutions on the basis of the relevant decree and the experience of
institutions of tertiary education. In 2001 40% of students in
institutions of tertiary education studied in an institution that
introduced the credit-based system in an upward arrangement. As from
September 2003 the amended credit legislation requires the credit
system to be introduced on a compulsory basis in the entire Hungarian
tertiary education structure, thus previous studies will be accounted
for in accordance with their credit value and on a life-longbasis.
the mid-80s onward there have been an increasing number of students in
tertiary education. The rate of the increase has accelerated from 1991,
and tripled over a decade. In response to rising needs, the government
committed itself to raise state funded admission rates in a
differentiated manner in accordance with areas and levels of education.
Extensive development -triggered by demographic growth- and the rising
value of education resulted in mass education, and in parallel new
types of demand.
Conditions of entry in tertiary education
changed considerably in 2000. An important requirement of Hungarian
tertiary education is that output should be in line with the country’s
real social and economic needs, and with labour market forecasts, so
that meanwhile all young gifted people should be given a chance to
embark on tertiary studies.
Two levels of admission planning have been elaborated:
distributing the total state funded admission quota determined by the
government to be admissible for grade 1 among levels of education, and
areas of education, and creating the regulation ensuring the operation
of institutions, and making the required central decisions on possible
further rises in admission levels; 2 designing the local
admissions-planning strategy of the institutions of tertiary education
in the light of all relevant information.
The number of students was raised mainly in shorter practice-oriented
főiskola level initial training
in post secondary vocational training. The regulation gives an
opportunity for tertiary institutions to determine accesses
requirements for persons with disabilities, and to do the entrance
examination for nationalities in their mother tongue.
By signing the Bologna Declaration in 1999, Hungary
also joined the European Higher Education Area to participate in
discussing issues. The 1993 Act on Higher Education was amended several
times. In 2003 the aim of the amendments was to harmonise the Acts on
Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education and Training.
Decrees introduced guaranteed legal remedy to ensure students’ right in
mass education, and pre-prepared the new system of entrance procedure
that builds on the maturity examination ( érettségi vizsga) from 2005.
2002 along with the revision of wages concerning higher education
sector, the status of public servants.were regulated, and higher
education institutions were authorized to launch Bachelor programmes in
line with the multi-cycle system by the permission of the Minister of
Education and Culture. It was in 2004 when a work on large scale was
started in order to revise the 1993 Act on Higher Education, and the
preparation of a new HE Act began. The Government adopted the Hungarian
Universitas Programme, whose main objective became the comprehensive
development of tertiary education.
Organization and operation of
tertiary education is ensured by a newly developed set of regulations.
The higher education system affected by social and economic changes has
greatly been influenced by the labour market. The new Act on Higher
education accepted by the Parliament in November 2005 entered into
force on 1 March 2006, it follows the principles of the Community and
Key elements of the 2005 Act on Higher Education
are the following: it introduces the new multi-cycle system, it defines
the new education and training structure and the institutional system
(establishment, operational conditions), it widens the circle of
maintainers, and determines in a unified way all the rights and duties
that are given to every higher education institution irrespective of
its maintainer. The new regulation separates the roles of state in the
way that duties of the state as maintainer be separate from duties
exercised by the state as a public authority.
The new act also
sets a new framework of higher education governance. The Financial
Board (Economic Board) established within the higher education
institutions is the body that delivers opinions, contributes to the
preparation of strategic decisions (made by the senate) and cooperates
in the monitoring of implementation. Members of the board are delegated
by the senate. By the reformation of the governing system of the HEIs,
the act has established the conditions for a renewed financial and
In accordance with the community policies it
regulates the working conditions of higher education students, the
services provided by HEIs, the possible financial support of higher
education studies at home and abroad, the operation of foreign HEIs in
Hungary, and the cooperation of Hungarian and foreign HEIs in respect
of joint programmes and joint degrees as well.
According to the
Act on Higher Education 2005, the framework of tertiary education has
changed since 1 September 2006. The multi-cycle education has been
The convergence programme of the Hungarian State
made necessary the revision and transformation of budgetary support of
tertiary education (the Act CIV of 2007 on the 2005 modification of higher education).
Non-university tertiary education Higher vocational training
vocational training (ISCED 5B) was made to form part of the duties of
institutions of tertiary education through the Act on Higher Education,
and the related government decrees. One third of the knowledge (up to
60 credit points) acquired during the courses of higher vocational
education may be converted into credited at the bachelor level of
Mainstream vocational training undertaken following the
This form of training, as a side-product of
mass-education, is spreading fast also in comparison with other
European countries, lead by demand for diversification. A special
characteristic of higher vocational training is that students may have
legal relationship with a higher education institution if the training
is organised by a HEI, or they may have legal relationship with szakközépiskola if the training is organized by an upper-secondary vocational institution in cooperation with a higher education institution.
training courses may be launched in an institution’s individual
competency as soon as the professional standards and examination
requirements have been announced in a ministerial decree. An
institution of tertiary education may launch a course of higher
vocational training – following ministerial approval of professional
standards and examination requirements – only if it has the conditions
in place in its basic courses of the same area.
that modifies the rules of higher vocational training (Act LX. Of 2004
on amendment of certain educational legislations to promote the
implementation of educational rights and to improve the higher
education and training system and institutional network) defines the
possibility of a contractual relationship between the student and a
business firm for professional practical training. Although this piece
of legislation was repealed by the Act LXXXII of 2007, some lements of
it had been built into the Act on Vocational Training.
to the 2005 Act on Higher Education the higher education institution
may cooperate with the Chamber of Economics and Vocation in the
preparation and implementation of the vocational and examination
requirements. State recognition of a vocational qualification may be
jointly claimed (through an accreditation procedure) by the chamber and
the higher education institution. Agreements may be established with
economic organizations in order to provide practical training.
As a result of the revised vocational training system a new register of vocational qualifications was published. (
2006/1. ministerial decree).
new register lists 21 study fields of vocational qualifications,
including the higher vocational training qualifications. Owning to the
new register new professional and examination criteria have been
together with the branches, there are more than 70 vocational training
programmes. It has overall 20 066 participants. Out of which 15 224
study in vocational schools ( szakközépiskola), 10 842 in tertiary educational institutions.
General further training
of tertiary education provide various kinds of training in order to.
update or expand participants’ knowledge, and also offer programmes
related to particular field of sector (e.g. the health, social, or
In several branches it is compulsory for
employees to go into further training after obtaining a
degree/qualification, or having spent some period in a given
profession. In the field, the institutions of tertiary education play a
decisive role concerning some specific areas of particular regions.
Tertiary education - Initial training
The ISCED system categorises both
(főiskolai képzés)of the former system and bachelor courses and master courses of the multi-cycle system from a qualification point of view as 5A.
The levels of education of
főiskola and university do not build directly on each other (
egyetem) in accordance with the Act LXXX of 1993 on Higher Education. Inception of university (
egyetem) studies is not conditional on graduation from
főiskola. The institutions of tertiary education decide themselves what prior knowledge of a candidate they recognise.
főiskola level education may be fulfilled with the same conditions at both university (
education is an independent qualification, but may count as a separate
level of education when a university course is built on a főiskola
The ‘university’ feature in university level education
derives from the scientific orientation of the training. University
education today constitutes a separate level of education. In most
cases the same course is available in the education system at főiskolaegyetem) level.
(egyetemi képzés)normally lasts for a minimum of 4 years (8 terms), usually 5 years, and exceptionally 6 years. The basic level of
főiskola level education
(főiskolai képzéslasts for a minimum of 3-4 years.
the decentralisation process in education in the early 1980s new
regulation of education came on the agenda ensuring the domestic and
international equivalence of degrees, and promoting the freedom of
education using an output oriented approach in harmony with
designing qualification criteria with the cooperation of experts, the
structure of initial training was reviewed area by area, the structure
of courses in certain branches of training were defined, and as the
relevant legislation gradually rose in the legislation hierarchy, the
initial training courses of tertiary education were legitimised by
Concerning tertiary education it was the
governmental scope of authority to determine the qualification criteria
for each study programme, which it performed in 2001 by officially
stating the criteria for each course in the area of humanities.
agreed to implement the multi-cycle system in higher education and
training by 2006 at the Berlin Summit of the countries where the
country signed the Bologna Declaration in 1999. The amendment of the
Higher Education Act (1993/LXXX.) authorized the set up of three BSc
(Bachelor of Science) courses; two of them were launched in 2004.
conferences of institution managers representing the professional
interests of Hungarian tertiary education i.e. the Hungarian Rectors’
Conference, the Conference of Rectors of főiskola together with the Hungarian Accreditation Board of Higher Education (
Magyar Akkreditációs Bizottság)
made a proposal concerning the structure of the first cycle of the
multi-cycle training structure. The Government Decree on the multi
cycle training structure (2004/258. on certain rules of the
implementation of the multi-cycle, linear training in higher education
and on the rules of launching the first training cycle) defined 12
educational areas with 102 BSc (bachelor) degree courses, and 7 MA
(master) courses that remain long courses, courses with no exit
possibility in the first cycle. Higher education institutions may
launch new courses based on the opinion of the Hungarian Accreditation
Committee and the approval of the Minister of Education and Culture.
The new education and training structure is regulated by the 2005 Act on Higher Education.
first cycle of the multi-cycle structure ends in a Bachelor’s degree
and enables its holder to enter positions that require this level of
qualification. Education and training period lasts at least 6 and
maximum 8 semesters. In bachelor courses where practical training is
required it should be at least one semester long.
of Master courses candidates receive a Master’s degree (magister) which
enables them to fulfil positions requiring Master’s qualification.
Master courses require minimum 2 and maximum 4 semesters of education
and training. Both in multi-cycle structure and in long cycle courses
the full training period that a Master’s qualification requires is
minimum 10 and maximum 12 semesters.
On 1 September 2006
following the structural changes in the Hungarian higher education
system, the first cycle was complete with 101 bachelor courses and by 7
long cycle master courses that all fulfil the requirements set by
Bologna process. In the field of arts education the first cycle began
in 2007, and bachelor courses increased to 133, and the number of
courses ending in a Master’s degree in one long cycle increased to 17.
Post gradual level PhD training
A traditional function of a university (
is to run PhD courses to prepare for the highest level of academic
qualification (ISCED 6), and to award doctoral grades. Hungarian
universities ( egyetem) were
deprived of that right in 1950. The network, the structure, and the
governance of tertiary education were completely transformed. The
universal teaching and training research universities were divided;
certain faculties, the scientific and academic activities and academic
qualification were separated from their rights. 1992 was the year when
an agreement was signed again between the Hungarian Conference of
Rectors and the president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
representing and operating the Committee of Scientific and Academic
Qualifications. This agreement allocated the right of academic and
scientific courses and qualifications to universities ( egyetem).
given back that right after the political changes through a statutory
provision passed in 1993 began a new type of Doctoral training and
awarding of scientific degrees. That right of universities ( egyetem) is
established in a legal standard laid down in the Constitution. That
historic process reached its conclusion when universities ( egyetem) as
already autonomous entities in exercising their rights recognised that
when given back the authority of providing the highest level of
training, and awarding scientific grades, their services must be
subject to quality standards established by the scientific elite of the
egyetem) have the exclusive right of awarding scientific grades.
was also passed to enable the replacement of art teachers in tertiary
art education, and gaining international recognition to the doctoral
grade (Doctor of Liberal Arts) in arts.
A doctoral course is a post-graduate course provided by a university (
for three years (36 months) to enable participants to obtain the PhD
grade. A doctoral course requires continuous studies, research, and
reviewing achievement including the performance of requirements laid
down in the doctoral regulations of the university ( egyetem), and similarly the successful passing of all doctoral examinations except for the final complex doctoral examination.
PhD grade is functionally built on the doctoral course, but its
procedure is independent both legally and in its progress. The PhD
candidate has to write a doctoral thesis.
Doctoral courses until
the academic year of 2001/2002 were run in accredited programmes, and
the comprehensive accreditation following the first eight years took
place simultaneously with the creation of the organisational framework
of doctoral training, and of doctoral schools. The integration of
institutions of tertiary education provided favourable conditions to
the establishment of doctoral schools.
The present system of
Hungarian doctoral training and awarding of grades is a modern
structure modelled on the pattern of Anglo-Saxon traditions. 24
universities ( egyetem) operate 165 doctoral schools. With nearly 8000 PhD students and professors already possessing the grade, university (
egyetem) is the greatest innovative research base of Hungary.
doctoral course (PhD) is the next scientific level following master
course, and preparatory training for obtaining the doctoral grade in
arts (DLA). The standard regulation from a sectoral science-political
point of view in doctoral education and at obtaining the PhD grade is
ensured by law (The Act CXXXIX of 2005 on Higher Education) and a
governmental decree (2007/30. governmental decree; on the rules of
procedure in doctoral school and on the conditions of obtaining a
The system of further training
Specialised further training
distinction of initial training and further training as consecutive
phases in the education system, and the differentiation of objectives
in education as a whole played a major role in upgrading the structure
of tertiary education. The initial training phase aiming to provide a
broader knowledge base more in line with labour market needs was
supplemented by a further training system; equipping students with more
profound knowledge, and issuing a special qualification.
Specialised further training following the obtainment of a university (
egyetem) or a
qualification is meant to satisfy the rapidly changing demand for
expertise in society and in the economy. Its primary objective is to
train people to fill a specific position or do a specific job.
In the last decade further training courses were
launched under the instructions of certain authorities arranged under
the auspices of individual institutions. Such courses included training
of specialised engineers, economists, lawyers, etc. As the Act on
Higher Education took effect, the specialised further training courses
needed recognition by the state, and so the qualification requirements
of the courses of further training became necessary. Institutions of
tertiary education initiated the establishment of 343 specialised
further training courses over the past years.
specialised further training courses built on initial training belongs
to the competency of the Minister of Education and Culture. Launching a
course has been the right of institutions of tertiary education since
In the higher education system regulated by the 2005 Act
on Higher education launching of a further training course,
professional higher education training programme is still the right of
the institution of tertiary education. It can follow any degrees both
Bachelor’s and Master’s. It involves a specialization in or acquiring
supplementing knowledge in a field of study that ends in awarding a
certificate on completion, but do not lead to another degree.