graduation university student education

Thousands of students are left without diplomas because they could not get their foreign language certificates, reports. Is there no way out of this situation?

Another sad statistics arrived regarding the Hungarian educational system: at the beginning of June we already have 91,595 students who passed their final examination but still cannot get their university degree because they do not have the required language certificates. Just last year more than ten thousand diplomas were given to students who finished their studies in the previous years but only now got the language certificates.

Since 2011, language certificates became a prerequisite to any higher level education degree. It was obvious even then that many-many students will not get the degrees they worked so hard for after finishing their studies. At the end of 2013, an initiative was started to help those who finished their studies but could not receive their diplomas because they lacked the required language certificates.

Students demonstrate for better education in Hungary

There are almost a hundred thousand students who do not get their diplomas this year, and this number is way too big. Since 2006, almost 50 thousand students did not get their diplomas, which means that the number of students finishing their studies without a language certificate has grown drastically. It is not a surprise that the government decided to restart the initiative using different criteria. This new initiative will be able to help 1333 students, using 400 million Ft (1,241,000 euros) allocated to this cause.

The country can give 300,000 Ft (930 euros) in financial support to the students in the program. They have until March 31st, 2020 to present their language certificates. If they cannot, then they have to pay back the entire amount. The previous program helped 6499 students to hold their diplomas in their own hands finally.

What is the government’s goal with all this?

Even with this initiative, the situation still looks rather intimidating, especially since from 2020 on, students will need at least two language certificates to even apply to a higher education institution.  They would need one certificate to prove they are a proficient user of a language (level C exam) and a level B2 exam in another language, proving they are an independent user in that second language.

According to these statistics it seems like this step might not have a well-founded justification. Since 2009 less and less students take language exams, both in the 14-19 age group and in the 20-24 age group. 42 thousand high school student took a language exam in 2009 and only 36 thousand in 2017. The situation is not any better among university students either: there were 34 thousand 20-24 year-old students who tried to pass a language exam in 2009, and only 23 thousand in 2017.

It is obvious that the closer the time comes when they cannot even apply to a higher education institution without a language certificate, the less student even try to obtain one. This might have been the reason for these changes from the very beginning.

László Parragh, the president of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that they do not need everybody to get a university degree.

8 years ago almost 370 thousand students were enrolled in higher education, in 2017 this number fell to 287 thousand.

László Székely ombudsman said that most students could not get the necessary knowledge at school to take a language exam. The situation is even worse because Hungary has the most significant number of young people who do not want to learn another foreign language. Research shows that 72 percent of Hungarian students can read and write in one, at best two languages, including their mother tongue. And it looks like they do not want to learn any more. 49 percent said that they are happy only speaking their mother tongue.

But why should this come as a surprise when most government officials in Hungary do not have any language certificates either?


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