Eötvös Loránd University
The ELTE Faculty of Law photo: elte.hu

In 2019, there were more than 111 thousand students who wanted to continue their studies in Hungarian higher education. This number fell to a bit more than 91 thousand this year. We collected the possible reasons below.

As we reported before, the number of students enrolling in higher education in Hungary dropped sharply this year, falling by 20,000 to 91,400 compared to the previous year. The enrollment figure is at a 19-year low, and a similar fall-off was last seen in 2013 when 15,000 fewer students applied.

Debrecen University has seen the most significant drop, with 3,000 fewer enrollments this year. Demand for places at Budapest’s ELTE University remains high, however, only with 24,100 applications compared to 24,700 last year. In the case of the Budapest Corvinus University, the number of applicants fell by 33 pc to a bit more than seven thousand.

In February 2019, the government announced that it would place Corvinus University under the newly created Maecenas Universitatis Corvini Foundation from July 2019. The foundation will be allocated 10 pc of the government’s stake in MOL and Gedeon Richter worth HUF 380 billion at the time, with the operational expenses to be paid with the dividends from these companies. Because of the coronavirus epidemic, the economic crisis and the low oil prices, MOL and Richter will not pay dividends this year, so the government allocated extra money for the university last week.

Smaller universities suffered more significant losses.

For example, the number of applicants fell by 21 pc at the University of Miskolc, 25 pc at the University of Pannonia, 31 pc at the University of Kaposvár, 34 pc at the Széchenyi István University and it almost halved at the Neumann János University compared to 2019.

There are many possible reasons behind the decrease, Népszava collected some before in THIS article. At first, until 2019 November, obtaining an intermediate language exam was compulsory to continue your studies in the Hungarian higher education. The measure was introduced before but would have been in effect from 2020. However, the government decided last November that it would suspend it probably because they saw that there are too many students who cannot get an exam certificate by the deadline. László Palkovics, minister for innovation and technology, said then that if they used the regulation the number of students at

the smaller universities would have fallen drastically.

István Nahalka, an education expert, also stressed that the reason behind the decrease this year is not only demographic. He said that the number of those aiming to continue their studies at foreign universities is increasing every year. Moreover, many students are not pursuing their education immediately after maturation, but only one year later. Furthermore, he said that more impoverished families have worse chances to send their children to university in the Hungarian education system than before. Finally, from 2020 on everybody has to have at least one advanced matura exam and many students could not get that.

Based on current data, the number of those who would like to become a teacher decreased by 37 pc which is very dangerous taking into consideration the fact that the labour shortage on that field is already significant. István Nahalka said that being a teacher is not attractive in Hungary because of the meagre wages and the unfavourable learning-teaching environment.

As we wrote last week, Hungarian universities will be able to issue degrees even in the absence of a language qualification, the minister for education said.

Source: Népszava, Daily News Hungary

  1. Is there any data if this unpleasant phenomenon is specific only for Hungary or other EU counties are struggling with the same problem?

  2. In answer to Edith (above), in the UK applications from international students have dropped considerably due to the global pandemic (Chinese students alone make up around 120,000 of the UK student population). However, with the domestic student intake, universities are competing to attract UK students to make up the shortfall of international students , some offering unconditional entry. Competition for students in 2020 has been further fuelled by a demographic trough in the number of school leavers. So in short, the supply of UK university places is greater than the demand, but for entirely different reasons to those in Hungary.

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