Higher Education in Hungary
Most of the Hungarian universities are public institutions, and students traditionally study without fee payment. The general requirement for university is the Matura. The Hungarian public higher education system includes universities and other higher education institutes, that provide both education curricula and related degrees up to doctoral degree and also contribute to research activities. Health insurance for students is free until the end of their studies. English and German language is important in Hungarian higher education, there are a number of degree programs that are taught in these languages, which attracts thousands of exchange students every year. Hungary’s higher education and training has been ranked 44 out of 148 countries in the Global competitiveness Report 2014.
Today there are 67 higher education institutions in Hungary, ranging from small colleges to top research universities. These universities and colleges are maintained either by the state, private organizations or a church. In accordance with the objectives of the Bologna process the degree structure of tertiary education is based on three cycles. Nearly all study fields lead first to a Bachelor’s degree (usually 3 years), and after a further study period to a Master’s degree (2 years). However, there are some exceptions: medicine, pharmacy, dental and veterinary studies, architecture, law, teacher training, and certain arts-, crafts- and design-related study programmes, which retain a long single-cycle structure of 5 or 6 years of study. The first-cycle programmes last 6–8 semesters (3–4 years, 180–240 credit points) and lead to a bachelor’s degree (in Hungarian: alapfokozat). The second cycle, leading to a master’s degree (in Hungarian: mesterfokozat), lasts 2–4 semesters (1–2 years, 60–120 credit points). Two-year-long vocational higher education programmes (in Hungarian: felsőoktatási szakképzés) are also available on an optional basis prior to first-cycle programmes and lead to advanced vocational qualifications. The 120 credit points gained in vocational higher education programmes are compatible for recognition in the first (Bachelor) cycle. Any Bachelor’s or master’s degree can be followed by specialised higher education courses (in Hungarian: szakirányú továbbképzés). These do not lead to another degree but offer the option of specialisation in a particular field of study. Courses can be studied full-time, part-time or through distance learning. A four-year doctoral programme is a post-graduate course
to follow any Master’s or equivalent qualification.
Hungary has a long tradition of higher education reflecting the existence of established knowledge economy. The established universities in Hungary include some of the oldest in the world,
the first was the University of Pécs founded in 1367 which is still functioning, although in the year 1276, the university of Veszprém was destroyed by the troops of Peter Csák, but it was never rebuilt. Sigismund established Óbuda University in 1395. Another, Universitas Istropolitana, was established 1465 in Pozsony by Mattias Corvinus. Nagyszombat University was founded in 1635 and moved to Buda in 1777 and it is called Eötvös Loránd University today. The world’s first institute of technology was founded in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary in 1735, its legal successor is the University of Miskolc. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics is considered the oldest institute of technology in the world with university rank and structure, its legal predecessor the Institutum Geometrico-Hydrotechnicum was founded in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II.
Foreign students in Hungary
Hungary attracts foreign students from both EU and non-EU countries. Three quarters of the students arriving in Hungary arrive from just ten countries, while one quarter of the students arrives from another 100 countries. Among the countries sending most students are Germany, Iran, Norway, Israel and Sweden, while the majority of guest students are citizens of the neighbouring countries. In the 2008/2009 academic year, the total number of foreign students studying in Hungary was 16 916, while this number was only 14 491 in 2005/2006. The figures increases because of the following advantages: Hungary offers affordable tuition fees and living costs in European Union and Schengen area;
- Number of Nobel Prize Winners and scientific inventors got their education here;
- Easier admission procedure and less documents for getting acceptance;
- Hungary offers different type of scholarships for foreigners;
- The cost of student accommodation in Hungary is lower than most Western European Countries and Scandinavia.
- Lots of education programmes are offered in English and German;
- Hungarian embassies issue education visas easier than other European Union and Schengen Member States;
- Residence permit issued in Hungary for foreign students allows them to travel to other Schengen countries without any visa;
- Number of low costs flights connect Hungarian cities to other countries and popular travel destinations;
- Employment opportunities in European Union during education years and after graduation, etc.
Students interested in continuing their studies in Hungary will find preparatory courses in numerous universities from Debrecen to Budapest, from Budapest to Szeged, from Szeged to Pécs.