In recent years, relations in the field of higher education between Hungary and Latin America have developed significantly, among other reasons due to the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme launched by the Government of Hungary in 2013, GLOBS Magazine said.

The mobility programme which is available for students and researchers at undergraduate, graduate and PH.D. level in all scientific fields (based on bilateral agreements on education between Hungary and the specific sending partner) offers vacancies at Hungarian higher education institutions by providing free tuition, accommodation aid, insurance and monthly allowance. The core mission of the programme is to increase the number of foreign students in Hungary and to encourage higher education institutions to attract top foreign students.

Currently, seven partners are engaged in the programme from the Latin American region, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Educational pursuits have been further fostered when in March 2015 the Hungarian government launched its strategy of opening to the south, focusing on two rapidly emerging regions, Latin America (together with the Caribbean), and Africa. In the framework of the southern opening policy, in the last two years, several Hungarian diplomatic missions and trade representations were (re)opened in the region, such as the Trading House in Santiago de Chile and in Mexico City (2015), the General Consulate in Sao Paulo (2015), and the Embassy in Bogotá and Peru (2017).

As a good example of the flourishing collaborations, the Hungarian-Brazilian educational relations were given a new impetus in 2012 with Hungary’s accession to the “Science without Borders” scholarship programme. The programme, launched by the Brazilian government, enabled 101000 Brazilian BSc and PhD students to study abroad in the fields of natural sciences, health sciences, applied sciences, computer sciences, creative sciences, engineering and technology in the period between 2012-16.

In Hungary, the programme has been centrally coordinated by the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference (HRC), and altogether almost 2200 Brazilian students studied at Hungarian universities, which number has made Hungary the 12th most popular destination of Brasilian students among the partner countries around the world.

The foundations of the Central Bank of Hungary also put special emphasis on higher education programs related to the Latin American region. In the spirit of promoting cultural exchange with Latin American countries, in May 2015, Hungarian language and culture courses were launched at the University of Sao Paulo, the biggest university of Latin-America and the most prominent educational and research potential at the region. The project has been realized in the framework of the professional cooperation of the University of Pécs (PTE) and the University of Sao Paulo; was supported by the Pallas Athené Domus Animae Foundation (PADA) with the professional contribution of the HRC. The PADA took the responsibility of maintaining the programme at least for five years; therefore, the possibility of learning Hungarian language and to gain broader knowledge about the country’s culture is guaranteed in long-term. The course is free to all participants, currently welcoming around 100 students learning Hungarian at different levels, uniting the Hungarian diaspora community as well as advocating Hungarian culture to locals and fortifying cultural, educational and economic ties between Brazil and Hungary. Due to the success of the course, in September 2017, another course was launched at the University of Ceará in Fortaleza with the collaboration of Eötvös Loránd University; and plans have been made to expand the initiative to other South American capitals, such as Buenos Aires or Havana.

The Geopolitics and Geoeconomics PhD Program hosted by the University of Pécs and the Pallas Athene Foundations of the Central Bank is also a good example for international scientific collaborations, as various Latin American  lecturers, among others Ambassador Veronica Chahin from Chile, Ambassador Julio César Cancio Ferrer from the Republic of Cuba, Dr. Mercedes Botto from the FLACSO Institute of Argentina and Prof. Roberto Paulo Feldmann from the University of Sao Paulo contributed to the course’ success. Also, “Geoeconomics and Geopolitics of the 21st Century” conference was held in Sao Paulo and Santiago de Chile in November 2016, co-organized by the University of Pécs, the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Chile.

Exchange of students is also among the focus points: Colombian students had the opportunity to learn about the European economic and legal system in the framework of the”Understanding Economic Regulation to European Union Approach” summer program organized by the Corvinus University of Budapest and led by Dr. Ildikó Szegedy-Maszák, Honorary Consul of Hungary in Colombia; meanwhile, Pallas Athene Domus Mentis Foundation (PADMA) funded nine Hungarian students’ participation at the summer program of the University of Chile.

Cooperation agreements signed between national organizations has always had special importance in determining the main directions and trends of development, and the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference, as a unique organization representing all Hungarian higher education institutions, is a great advocate of establishing, maintaining and expanding educational ties. In the autumn of 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Mr. René Ramirez, Secretary for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ecuador (SENESCYT) and Prof. Dr. József Bódis, President of the HRC, and in March 2016, the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities (CRUCH) and the HRC have signed a MoU in order to promote and strengthen common activities in the fields of academic exchange and research activities.

Regarding the most recent higher education related activities in the Latin American region, Tempus Public Foundation (TPF) with the cooperation of 8 Hungarian higher education institutions and the HRC attended the „Salao do Estudante 2017” education fair organized in three cities in Brazil – Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte; Dr Zoltán Dubéczi, Secretary General of the HRC was invited to give a presentation on ‘The role of universities in regional development’ at the EU-CELAC Summit at the University of El Salvador; while a Chilean delegation from the Association of Regional Universities (AUR) visited Hungary to study Hungarian universities’ role in reducing socioeconomic inequalities, and to discuss their experiences especially their integration in the geographical neighbourhood, particularly in regions outside Budapest.

The next strategic platform for deepening inter-governmental, scientific, technological and educational cooperation between Hungary and Latin American countries is the 3rdHungary-Latin America Forum organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were held in Budapest on 15-17 November 2017.

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Source: GLOBS Magazine – by Dr. Zoltán DUBÉCZI Secretary General, Hungarian Rectors’ Conference and Mrs. Júlia MOROVÁN, Secretary of International Affairs, Hungarian Rectors’ Conference

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