On Thursday, the Board of Trustees of the Tempus Public Foundation adopted the principles and concept of a new internationalization program. The program was jointly developed by the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, the Tempus Public Foundation, and leading Hungarian universities, including the University of Pannonia, University of Debrecen, Széchenyi István University, Óbuda University, and Semmelweis University.
Balázs Hankó, State Secretary for Innovation and Higher Education, attending a meeting of education ministers of EU Member States in Brussels, announced that the program will be launched next year. It will have a budget of HUF 10 billion (EUR 26.3 million), and will provide around 8,000 students, teachers, and researchers with the opportunity to participate in exchange programs. In the first place, the program will cover public interest trusts with a public service mission that have changed models. The Tempus Public Foundation will launch the call for applications to universities on January 15, 2024, hence students can apply to their universities as early as next March to participate in the exchanges from the autumn.
In 2021, the government adopted a proposal
to change the model of higher education institutions. This meant that the majority of universities were removed from the scope of direct state-run institutions, and the rights of founders and maintainers were transferred to trusts established specifically for this purpose. The government’s aim was to ensure the country’s competitiveness and efficiency of its universities, while expanding “academic freedom.”
As the state secretary explained,
it will be possible to study not only in Europe but also at universities outside Europe, i.e. in Asia or North America, on the basis of international agreements concluded by the universities.
In addition, there will be the possibility of scholarships for excellence, providing opportunity for more than 200 students to study at the best universities in the world.
He added that the new program will fully recognize university credits completed at foreign universities, meaning that studying abroad will no longer be a cause for delaying the completion of university studies, and the scholarship will range from HUF 350-500,000 (EUR 920-1315) per month. The program will focus on fields of study relevant to the Hungarian economy or society.
Commenting on the Erasmus issue, Hankó said that the government sent its latest proposal to the European Commission almost two weeks ago, but they did not reply yet. “The Commission should know that in the Erasmus cooperation rules they laid down, Hungarian universities had to apply by February 23, and they have nine months to conclude contracts on the basis of these rules, so the deadline is today, but of course the Commission can decide to extend this. We are negotiating, and we hope that the Commission will accept the proposals we have made precisely in response to their comments, in order to ensure that EU funds are properly protected (…).”
The state secretary added that a successful competitiveness turnaround had been achieved in Hungarian higher education in recent years. “This is also shown by the results: four years ago 7, two years ago 9, last year 11, and this year 12 universities are in the top five percent of the world, and this year was the most successful admission year of the last decade, as more than 33 percent more students enrolled in Hungarian higher education than last year,” he concluded.
Via MTI, Featured image: Pixabay