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Language Exam for Uni Admission – Not Compulsory after All?

Fanni Kaszás 2019.11.06.

The language exam should not be a mandatory requirement for admission to higher education institutes – at least, that is the new suggestion by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology to the government, according to MTI. The ministry came to this position after long-term consultations with the National Union of Students in Hungary (HÖOK) and other organizations, formally submitting a proposal to the government on Wednesday.

Back in 2014, the government came forward with a proposal that from 2020 on, university admission would be subject to passing an intermediate (B2) language exam. According to Tamás Schanda, ITM’s parliamentary state secretary, before the decision, all the responsible partners had been consulted and they agreed at the time to leave everyone enough time to prepare for the new regulation during the following five years.

This July, the Hungarian parliament accepted an amendment to the law on public education. The changes to the act included school and kindergarten enrollment, homeschooling, and the much-debated mandatory language exam for university admission. This meant that from 2020 on, high school graduates can only continue their studies at a higher education institution if they have at least one intermediate (B2) level or equivalent degree.

Graduating Students in Rush to Learn a Language or Can Say Goodbye to University Plans

However, several different organizations have contacted the Ministry of Innovation and Technology to conduct further negotiations on the compulsory language exams. After listening to the suggestions and concerns, the ITM is now proposing to the government that the mandatory language exam requirement should be removed from the higher education admission requirements.

At last week’s talks, HÖOK drew the ministry’s attention to the fact that the requirement for a language exam would drastically reduce the number of students at some universities, as it is estimated that it could lead to a 20% drop in the number of students enrolled in tertiary education, which in turn would have a serious impact on smaller rural universities as well. This year, one third of the students admitted to university haven’t taken a language exam.

It is also problematic that the current national core curriculum only prepares students for the B1 level, while they are expected to enroll at the university on a B2 level. Additionally, there are still serious shortcomings and unevenness in Hungarian language education and many families cannot afford to pay for private language classes, so this requirement would be very detrimental to many young people. Those with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, would also find themselves in a harder position with the introduction of the new law.

The problem was perceived by the government and the then Ministry of Human Resources as well, but half a year ago it seemed that the rule would not be repealed. However, looking at the proposal, the government may change the previously accepted amendment and not make the intermediate language exam a requirement for those who apply to higher education in 2020.

featured photo: Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI