Szabó Péter
THE PROBLEMS OF THE COMMON EUROPEAN EDUCATIONAL ZONE AND HUNGARIAN HIGHER EDUCATION

1.1 The Social Background of Hungarian Higher Education

 After 1989, after the first euphoria there was a serious economic crisis in Hungary. Production decreased dramatically. Economists belonging to different schools completely agree on the depth of the crisis. The gross national product decreased to one-fifth by 1992. [1] Taken from a different perspective the total economic output did not reach that of the 1980s and the GDP was continuously decreasing. [2] The social effect of the crisis can be shown by the fact that in Székesfehérvár -- the medieval capital of Hungary and today’s most developed regional centre -- 16,000 people became unemployed in 1992. [3] The low level of employment was a nationwide phenomenon. Between 1989 and 1997 1.6 million jobs ceased to exist and the number of employed people decreased by one-third. [4] Democratic institutions had to come into being during this serious economic and social crisis.

To overcome the economic crisis was a key issue of democracy at this time. The economy, which was organised in the framework of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid, and the low level of competitiveness made recession unavoidable. Economic modernisation became necessary. The crisis and the social modernisation induced social tension. Geographically these tensions were different in the country: the crisis was more serious and took a longer time in the Northern and the Eastern parts while in the capital, in the central and the West-Transdanubian regions it was shorter and not as serious as in other regions. Agricultural areas like Somogy and Tolna counties got into extremely deep crisis.

The regions recovering from the crisis produced a big increase. Székesfehérvár belonged to the ten most quickly developing regions in the world between 1992 and 1998, which was considered to be a real sensation even in the international press. Győr and its agglomeration came very close to Székesfehérvár. In the past few years the industry of Székesfehérvár has provided 7% of Hungary’s exports. [5] The regions lagging behind can learn lessons from the positive and negative experience of the changes in the most developed regions.

The groups that suffered most seriously from the crisis were the peasantry, the uneducated and the Romany people. The problems of Romanies and peasants have remained the most significant social problem even after the commencement of successful modernisation and growth. While in 1989 poverty according to EU standards was 85%, in 2000 it was below 30%. [6]

The change in employment took place in industry and services mainly. By the turn of the millennium the position of employees has become solid in the competitive market sphere and salaries have also started rising. However, the necessary changes have not taken place yet in the state-operated sub-systems such as the public administration, public health service and public education. Therefore, the salaries are low, the circumstances are on a very basic standard and the systems are frequently disfunctional. This can be detected in the ongoing crisis of the public health service.

In spite of the fact that the different Hungarian governments have spent on public education such a big amount of money that could compare even with the European standards, the crisis can still be seen in this area as well. [7] This huge sum has not resulted in the increase of quality because the changes that took place in public education at the beginning of the 1990s -- the implementation of eight- and six-form grammar schools, the reform of specialised education, the foundation of private institutions, methodological pluralism, the changes in the maintenance roles of self-governments etc.  -- did not answer the most fundamental questions. Among these one can find the nationwide analysis of maintenance expenses, the nationwide debate on the basic principles of task financing, the relationship of schools and the Frame Curriculum, methodological boredom, debates about Matriculation Exams for too many people, to mention but a few of the problems.

This paper does not aim at answering the above questions in the field of public education. Higher education, however, cannot make itself independent from the problems of society, namely the problems of public education. While the serious problems of public education have remained partly unsolved, the Hungarian governments, depending on the productivity of the country, have always paid special attention to higher education.

2.1. Changes of the Developed Western Society and the Effects of Changes on Higher Education Policy

The history of higher education in Europe and America after World War 2 reflects significant ideological and education-political paradigm shifts. In the Western democracies left-wing and central political aspirations became dominant as a result of integrating the model of the welfare state to the level of government policy. The university of the 1950s was conceived as a state-financed institution of young regular students. At universities of this era there were no training regulations, the demands of the labour market were not in accordance with those of the university system; the aims of universities were to transmit culture to students and to develop students’ imaginations. From the 1960s the elite characteristic of higher education was questioned due to the growing number of students.

As a result of the activities of left-wing political movements several new institutions were founded and the existing ones were extended. In the continental European systems higher education was under governmental and departmental control, while in the Anglo-Saxon model the control was more indirect. In the continental model higher education was part of the national public administration; in the Anglo-Saxon model it was the embodiment of autonomy.

In developed European countries the following three periods can be distinguished in the reforms of higher education:

  • Expansion in the 1960-70s;
  • Decentralisation, selectivity and consolidation in the 1970-80s, which led to the foundation of polytechnics in several countries. This process resulted in the crisis of higher education financing throughout Europe and the change in higher education policy: It was not considered to be a tool of the democratic reform of the society, but higher education was expected to support competitiveness in the international market economy. The linear, rational, curriculum-centred administrative models of Enlightenment were followed by liberal and conservative models and political discourses. These discourses mainly touched upon higher education, but issues relating to public education were also discussed.
  • Since the 1990s financing issues, governmental quality assessment and the content of higher education have been in focus besides a new wave of expansion. [8]

It is worth examining the processes that took place in the so called Eastern bloc of the divided Europe as well. In the Communist countries led by the Soviet Union, modernisation, the transformation of higher education into a dual system, had already started in the 1950s. As a result, by the end of the 1960s, the number of students increased dynamically especially in the field of technical sciences. Meanwhile, autonomous research was slowly made impossible by the direct political control of scientific and academic institutions, and later, by the end of the 1980s, the decreasing financial capacities of the declining Communist dictatorships pushed the higher education of the Socialist countries into a very deep crisis. The educational structures of the countries became inflexible both in structure and content. The extremely low salary of professors undermined the standard of education. In spite of these really bad circumstances the East-European institutions were still able to maintain their best traditions.

Student movements in the Western hemisphere in the 1960s mainly questioned the training programmes as they were considered to be alienating for students. The refusal of curricula also entailed the refusal of training achievement, which was reflected in the so-called achievement strikes, because business life did not reward studying hard with well-paying jobs and positions. High unemployment level and low salary for young people starting out on their careers did not attract students into lecture halls but into the realm of sex, friendly companies, sports, drugs and music. [9] This was accompanied by the crisis of higher education methodology, which, based on intellectual and avantgarde subculture, focused on interpreting concepts rather than transfering knowledge. A significant component of this culture was education that did not take a side on any issue, as a result of which education lost its relevance to real life.

Dialogue became the most valuable part of liberation pedagogies, in which communication became the central element of knowledge transfer. By knowledge socialised knowledge was meant, which received an individual dimension. The most important function of dialogue was to question the dominance of power relations within education, in which the teachers were not only experts in their subject, but they also relearnt the subject with their students. As part of this concept subjects changed from one semester to another since the content of training always depended on the students’ levels of ability and their skills to think critically.

Dialogue-based liberating education theories questioned the relevance of lecture-based form-focused content knowledge as an autocratic activity, while dialogue implied the lack of authoritarianism. The process of education was based on the so called situation pedagogy, where the teacher motivated or manipulated with examples taken from students’ lives in order to have students actively participate in classroom work. As a consequence of this, knowledge was not structured on the basis of future jobs, but on the basis of students’ subcultural life. 

An important element of liberation pedagogies was to strengthen the individuality of students, to idolise the self-made-man culture and to romanticise the model of the lonely entrepreneur. This process resulted in the implementation of a flexible credit system that provides menu-like possibilities for students to choose from. The credit system replaced the strict curricula of earlier periods. Liberal education philosophy broke with the time limits set by higher education. The pacing of training became the students’ responsibility. This principle also aimed at eliminating formal assessment: credits which replaced grades did not reflect the real content of knowledge. The reactions to liberal educational models questioned the results of practice from the perspective of modernism and postmodernism. [10]

Conservative political movements broke with individual-centred education. They criticised liberation pedagogies stating that they were not appropriate for the society. The major topics of conservative discourses were reinstating the responsibility of teachers and students, emphasising the importance of textbooks, and reinstating the significance of basic skills. [11]

 Besides criticising the educational system based on the welfare state, conservative political movements introduced several new components into the discourse about higher education in the 1980-1990s. Among these were questioning the relevance of education that is free, supporting trainings beneficial for the society, not financing the so called l’art pour l’art majors, decreasing the autonomy of universities, appreciating business and technology studies, implementing management culture in higher education, introducing quality control and accepting expense sensitive management.

Today’s mass universities are usually called postfordian or postmodern institutions. It is a relevant issue to examine whether they are postmodern indeed. They are if we accept that postmodern does not regard universities as the most important element of the students’ careers, but rather as a tensionless period in their lives, when they have the possibility of doing things they will not have any chance to do in their future. According to this view students can exchange ideas, they can get to know different customs, attitudes and sources to select from for their individual careers, they can contact other people and in this way recent mass institutions are the organisational frames of network building.

The postmodern interpretation of higher education has some philosophical backings as well. Postmodern learning philosophy breaks with the so called modernism projects, the segmented education based on time management, because subjects to be covered during a certain amount of time, timed tests, timetables, school calendars, semesters and examination terms are all based on the 17th century Newtonian time concept. According to this, education is under constant pressure: the aim is to integrate as many data and subjects into curricula as possible, which led to too ambitious goals and extremely extended curricula. These changes put big pressure on the teaching staff, as a result of which they became fatigued. Time management programmes, computerised timetables, informative news letters, detailed textbooks, the so called ”last minute” administration as an integral part of education management became regular for frustrated groups of students and teachers.

According to Patrick Slattery [12] some new dimensions of space-time theory opened up with the help of the so called ”hyperspace”’ or virtual space. The role of technical devices in education as new media grew due to new educational technology, therefore, the emphasis shifted from teaching to learning. Learning became an integral part of life. All this eliminated the chronological segmentation of material to be taught and evaluation could not be interpreted any longer. Asking questions, interpretations and explorations substituted lectures, expositions, memoriters and reproductions.

The postmodern interpretation of education also involves Kuhn’s science theory, according to which everything that exists in education is in crisis: financial instability, economic unequality, legal problems, exhausted teachers, the constant criticism coming from political parties and uninterested students. This means that in terms of curricula and training programmes there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift.

Another significant characteristic of the postmodern interpretation of education is the lack of integrating theories. Most researchers agree that education has fragmented into several different disciplines, but theories that would be capable of integrating them have not come into existence yet. Questions relating to the theory of education can be organised around only one issue: What is the role of education in the future society?

Table 1: Comparison of education theories and visions

Characteristics

Enlightened, progressive ”technozoic” model

Conservative model

Ecozoic and transformative model

View on education

Modern

Anti-modern

Postmodern

Community and environment concepts

Exploiting

Traditional

Reflexive, interactive

Time concept

Development-centred

Cyclic, static

Space-time theory

World view

Mechanistic

Anthropologic, organic

Biocentric life circles

Conflict management

Top-down

Deviant, anarchic

Creative

Educational characteristics

Progressive

Conventional

Elevating

           

Edmund O’Sullivan [13] characterises the three educational theories with the following main features. The technozoic theory is strongly connected to the global spread of American educational hegemony, the central issues of which are the democratic citizen, progression, and the attachment to technological society. The technozoic interpretation of society is in decline at present. The principal ideologists of this concept, John Dewey and Edward Thorndike, belong to the liberal wing of the progressive movement. Thorndike became famous as a proponent of testing, drilling and repeating. As the first theoretician of higher education he was dealing with  trainings for working-class people.

Andragogy was not a topic for sociocritical research until the end of the 1980s. Traditional andragogy favoured the cult of effectiveness, the importance of specialised trainings, individual and career developing programmes, competence-based education and human resources management.

The conservative model mainly criticised the ecologically harmful effects of the technozoic approach. The educational theories of maintenance were attached to a certain type of ecological conservatism.

The main concern for the postmodern transformative model or critical pedagogy is to criticise the unequal division of power and sources along gender, class and race. The studies mentioned above carry out research on the political economy of andragogy on the basis of anti-power movements. According to the holistic integrative theory, education in the 20th century was always conscious for national states. At the end of the 20th century there was a movement towards consciousness for globalism, but the consequence of this new situation was the hegemony of global consumer space. Traditional literacy -- reading, writing, arithmetic -- was replaced by computer literacy, the equivalent of which has been media literacy recently.

The new theories are different parts of global anti-power movements, focusing on the pedagogy of marginal society. The central issues in this theory are educating non-privileged layers of the society, educating students to peace and justice, and developing ecological consciousness.

In the 1990s the transformation of higher education was strongly influenced by conservative political movements, while the processes of globalisation-localisation-regionalisation-transnationalism transformed both the institutional and the administrative background of higher education.

Among the new trends of the 1990s the most important ones are the pluralisation of higher education, the development of research activities as part of the service industry, the transformation of government control, the establishment of agencies supporting higher education management, the spread of service and quality culture and the formation of higher education networks. Apart from the phenomena mentioned above, higher education as an economic and employment sector would also deserve a separate analysis.

Besides the most salient issues of today’s society another important aim of universities is the development and welfare of local, regional and nationwide economy and society. According to some views the functions of higher education are threatened by several factors: over-emphasis on research, the backwash effects of quality control, questioning the relevance of the teaching-learning process and demands for the diversity of higher education.

2.2   The place of higher educational institutions in the political system

Nowadays higher educational institutions are global networks, multi-level political systems  which work in the environment of organizations connected by information technologies, the regionally formed market economy, the consumer society, the increased need for free time, administrative structures, global environmental problems, new multicultural values. Higher education cannot be a closed fortress of knowledge because instead of the earlier applied curriculum-based philosophy the changes drive the system towards student-centered education.

The political atmosphere of higher education has changed in the nineties. The transformation of the nations’ political roles, the consolidation of the regional and local democracy, the transformation of the students’ attitudes - students became consumers whose interests and comfort have to be served - the consolidation of market mechanisms, the decentralization of services, entertainment, sport becoming multicultural define the working environment of higher education. In the global economical environment, where production is regulated by production technology, universities kept the individualized department culture of lecturers and resisted the changes. Teachers became the framers of studying practice, process and environment, and had difficulties in adopting new information technologies. This has lead to a new situation: universities lead by multinational companies and virtual universities were formed ( today there are 1200 business universities, sometimes with a 17 million dollar budget). The higher educational institutions joined them with the help of consortional contracts (Motorola University). Other universities founded profit oriented commercial-educational companies. In the United States the government itself lead the virtual educational globalization, the improvement of the satellite system and the foundation of the World-Campus project,  the foundation of the ability of the so-called cyber-education. [14]

The United Kingdom announced the internationalization of higher education: the aim is to create educational export. Educational export is one of the most important industries of the country, it is no accident that they are leading in the quality insurance of higher education. Sweden and The Netherlands chose to internationalize their trainings for the interests of regional and frontier cooperation, language competence and industrial competitiveness.

The internationalization of European education improves with the help of the European Union. It is a tool to transform the nation role. In the nineties OECD countries questioned the abilities of the countries to finance their higher education system. Training in higher education, which did not give a degree had a higher rate of return and reached more influential groups and classes. It became accepted that the operation of public institutions have to be efficient and predictable. From the seventies it became more and more accepted that the private sector has to be supported and the sources of the sector have to be expanded. Higher education became large-scale under the influence of this philosophy.

 We can distinguish two periods in the privatization of higher education. The first is where religious private institutions were founded in the so-called ‘elite’ period. Universities which were founded in the 17 th and 18 th centuries are called the noble branch of higher education. (Harward, Yale, Princeton, etc.). The case was similar during the colonization of Latin-America. These noble institutions- elite institutions- were founded in the developed regions, focused in social studies and the high level of research made them similar to state institutions.

The second period started recently. The share of private education in the higher education market is globally significant. This can be proved by the number of institutions and students as well. [15]

Table 2. The global private higher education (source: Society and Economy, Vol XXI. N.I. Table 1.)

                                   Private higher education (global)

Country

share

number of students

number of institutions

Japan

80

2.064.000

1000

South Korea

77

1.155.000

 

Thailand

42

199629

24(50)

Belgium

70

300.000

 

Indonesia

67

500.000

 

Brazil  

66

1.206.000

 

Columbia

61

305.000

 

Portugal

52

450.000

 

India   

44

2.200.00

 

Chile

30

200.000

 

Peru    

30

150.000

 

Romania

27

85.000

44

Poland

25

209.000

114

USA

22       

3.169.000

2051

Mexico

18

1.200.00

 

Hungary

14

26.650

34

Czech Republic

0,5

700

12

In the above table it is shown that a private institution is a characteristic feature mainly in the United States and in the Pacific region. There is a breakline between new old and institutions in the private sector of Latin America. The old institutions ( universities, colleges) became the elite sector of higher education, and new institutions concentrated on labor-market trainings (binary system). The teachers of the private sector are paid by the hour, therefore the complementary character of the sector can be found clearly. The role of the ‘moonlight-academies’ is strongly disputed by the government in Brazil as well, and most of them are threatened by reduction. These institutions try to settle the legal problems by achieving the university title. Private higher education has similar features in Asia and in Thailand it is the main tool of the globalization process. [16]

The privatization of higher education had different measurements and rates in the world and it took place in order to complement the state sector and to satisfy the needs of the labour market in the process of mass-production. The fact that this sector was established shows the successful adaptation of the countries’ labour markets to the needs of economy. One of the main characteristic features of the sector is the attraction of students with lower social background and social status. It is a worldwide phenomenon that private institutions are concentrated in the developed regions, increasing the competitiveness of these areas.

Generally it can be said that private institutions come out with new training programmes in the strict state system. These training programmes concentrated on low investment trainings with mass needs. These systems are low financed, the tuition fees are down-pressed due to the lack of research [17] . In most countries they received state subsidies at the beginning, but they withdrew from public financing because of the pressure of state institutions. The lecturers of the private sector came from the state sector and they were forced to apply the structure of state institutions.

Another feature of private education systems is the lack of technical equipment use, the underdeveloped methodology of the training structure. This behaviour can be explained by the low-risk attitude of these institutions. According to the literature these institutions lack innovation. The management of the new private sector of higher education has short-term strategies. These are low quality, low cost enterprises with short -term profit plans. There are only a few institutions with the need for long-term survival plans. The governments have not created a long term strategy for handling private higher education: policies was either too strict and rigid or too permissive. [18]

In Europe though, market-orientedness remained a rhetorical trick in governmental politicies, and the governments encouraged to impose market influence on higher education. It remained typical in countries, such as the United Kingdom as well. Moreover, the meeting of Ministers of Education in 2001 in Prague, took a stand on the concept of higher education as public task again. [19] The reason for this is that for the same challenges of pluralism there were different answers because of the different traditions and considerably different circumstances.

In the history of western civilization the last time there were changes that shook the whole society started blossoming in the 60’s of the last century. The dynamics of the changes increased at the turn of the century. Expressions such as the knowledge-based society and life-through learning became clichés. The changes of the modern civil society were and are challenges for the educational structures, especially for higher education.

The starting point of the grand European reforms is 1968, the year of the student movements. Since then changes have come after changes, sometimes forming contradicting aims even within a country. This process is coloured by the initiatives related to the European integration and the tendencies related to globalization and the information revolution. In spite of the contradictions it can be traced that the governments of the western world give answers to the challenges by accelerating modernization in higher education as well, recognizing that the modernization of education gives an opportunity for further social improvements. The recognition is not uniform for the decision-makers of developed countries either, and the additional sources in the national budget for higher education appear with a huge lag. The first phenomenon shown in the second half of the last century was higher education becoming large-scale, that meets the requirements and needs of the economy. The sudden and rapid increase of student numbers can be seen today. In the last fifty years the number of students increased tenfold in Europe. [20]

Table 3. About the increase of students in Europe:

Country

1955 (all)

1985 (all)

1994 (all)

1955/94 (all)

Austria

19.124

173.215

227.444

11,9

Belgium

37.761

247499

285.098

7,6

Denmark

17.864

116.319

169.619          

9,5

Finland

16.628

127.976

197.367

11,9

France

193.886

1.278.581

2.083.232

10,7

Greece

21.055

181.901

314.002

14,0

The Netherlands

72.512

404.866

512.403

7,1

Ireland

11.040

70.301

117.641

10,7

Great-Britain

132.917

1.032.491

1.614.652

12,1

Germany

173.353

1.550.211

1.867.491

10,6

Norway

5.513

94.658

176.722

32,1

Italy

139.019

1.185.304

1.681.944

12,1

Portugal

118.914

103.585

279.263

14,6

Spain  

62.236

935.126

1.469.468

23,6

Switzerland

16.021

110.111

148.664

9,3

Sweeden

2.647

183.697

234.466

10,4

 

The improvement is not constant in some countries, but in EU countries a 35-45% participation rate can be considered general in each age-group. At the beginning university traditions were meant by élite training with a 5-10% age group rate. Mass training was a challenge in the field of quality education and financing as well. The universities’ initial rejection of mass production strengthened the governments’ rejection of additional charges. But rejection could not be maintained, thus the search for and the formulation of new training forms and financial sources started.

The solution meant the increase of short -period, cheap trainings which met the requirements of the labour market. This strengthened the sector outside university even if the training is carried out in a linear, and not in a dual system. The industry, as customer or consumer, gained a great role in higher education. Today the situation can be shown best by the relationship of Finnish colleges and universities with big companies. For example, at the Technical University in Tampere 20-25% of the budget comes from Nokia projects. [21] The intensity of the relationship will soon bring into question the role of the state as the main financing force and re-interprets the autonomy of classical higher education. In the 20 th century the government took a greater role in the financing of higher education in such a way that it left the centuries old university autonomy untouched. The government did not behave as a customer. Since higher education started to become large-scale, they had to re-evaluate the consequences of its voluntarily undertaken task, because growth means extra costs for the state, even if for institutions which have an increased number of tasks it seems to be a decrease. The following figures show that in the budget of the mentioned countries the amount of money spent on higher education is increasing: Germany in 1950 spent 9.4% of its budget on higher education, in 1993 it spent 23.7%. Finland in the given years spent 4.6 and 28.7% and Italy spent 8.6 and 13.7% on higher education.

The examples are selected, but show the European tendency. It can be traced that the Scandinavian states tried to fight their considerable lag with reforms carried out in the 80’s and the 90’s. [22] The increase of student numbers in the 60’s and 70’s took place in favourable economic circumstances and with continuous budget expansion. In the last two decades of the 20th century the extra sources of the budget could not accompanyfollow the needs, therefore the restructuring of financial sources came into the foreground. Countries applied a restrictive approach except for the Scandinavian countries and The Netherlands. Costs per student decreased even with increasing budget proportion. [23]

Table 4. Costs per student

Country

1975

1985

1992

Germany

0,43

0,34

0,29

Austria

0,52

0,38

0,34

Belgium

0,54

0,39

0,29

Denmark

0,65

0,49

0,44

Spain

0,20

-

0,23

Finland

0,29

0,39

0,55

France

0,31

0,30

0,22

Ireland

0,61

0,52

0,41

Italy

0,28

0,23

0,35

Norway

0,46

0,34

0,33

The Netherlands

0,89

0,55

0,54

Portugal

0,48

0,50

0,42

Great-Britain

0,94

0,51

0,43

Sweden

0,39

0,42

0,50

Switzerland

0,70

0,47

0,44

Thanks to the integration process the differences which existed earlier started decreasing all around Europe. The new financing experiments show the same movement. Measurability is a consideration, such as the connection of efficiency with financing. This viewpoint contradicted with the classic approach of autonomy and indicated a new type of negotiation process between the parties involved. Not even in the most developed has a uniform structure been formed yet, but the unification tendency is strengthened by the introduction of the euro in January 2002. The proportion of GDP spent in the case of countries with different economic power shows only tendencies and intentions. The counted expenditure in absolute value can give information. Now developed European countries with more or less similar output give 1% and 2.31% of their GDP to their higher education. [24]

The available financial forces are not enough to operate the system on an appropriate level. The state is looking for solutions that could help the situation. One of them is the strengthening of private higher education. The EU dealt with the situation of the non-state sector in 1992. [25] In reality the beginnings of European higher education developed independently in the middle ages, therefore it means that this category makes sense only from the formation of the modern state at the beginning of the 20th century. Today there are many strategies in Europe concerning the private sector. In German-speaking countries the number of private institutions is around 10 % because of the strong state centralism originating from the 19th century. In Switzerland and north-west Europe this number is around 30-40 %.

In Europe we can find non-profit institutions with religious appearance. It seems to be proven that in societies, which became civilized earlier (these are usually economically more developed) the role of the private sector is bigger. In these countries education is considered to be a social and not a state role. The private institutions achieve better financing in the case of state institutions by this role-taking, but they increase the expectancy of higher education because they compete with the better financed state institutions for students. The better quality and the higher number of services improve the approach of state institutions, since private institutions think of education as a complete service, where the person who buys the service and the student who pays for it are equal partners. These institutions are leaders in keeping good relationships with the industry that employs graduated students.

The maintainer category is not exclusive either in the state, or in the private sector. Under normal circumstances a non-state institution can get a state-subsidy, can apply for state resources. A state university can use its abilities to have additional income. The difference is the rate of financing and the state guarantee, which is given to institutions maintained by the state. This guarantee could mean the undertaking of short or long-term economic loss. The state is a bad owner directly, because it operates with an inflexible economic system and rigid financial regulations. In state institutions employees work under the safety of the public employee or government official status.

European private institutions can be compared to the elite institutions of the United States based on sociological and professional numbers. In Europe institutions maintained by the church play a great role.

Table 5. The participants of private higher education in different age groups in the most important countries of Europe [26]

Country

Age

 

18-21

22-25

26-29

Austria

13.1

15.4

9.1

Belgium

16.9

7.1

1.5

Denmark

7.8

17.2

8.7

France

20.2

11.6

3.8

The Netherlands

20.1

15.9

4.8

Great Britain

14.2

4.7

1.8

Greece

15.6

1.6

0.3

Germany

7.8

17.2

8.7

Spain

22.5

14.9

5.4

Sweden

4.3

8.1

3.8

Switzerland

4.8

7.8

4.0

Norway

8.4

15.3

6.5

Turkey

7.0

4.9

2.3

Since the Central and Eastern European democratic revolutions, the directions of change in  higher education have been restrained by the primary political ambitions of the Council of Europe (CoE). The expansion of the CoE was motivated by two goals: the establishment of human rights/signing the documents concerning the most essential human rights, and the establishment of the institutions of parliamentary democracy. Great stress was laid on matters regarding civil society – more precisely on the freedom of multiple media and political association. These were the basic conditions of CoE membership. The transition concentrated on the constitution, the democratic rule of law, through the establishment of new public institutions regulating legally the relation between governmental and non-governmental parties and through the establishment of democratic civilian rights by means of education and media pluralism. [27]

It was not obvious if education is treated as a part of governmental, private or a third, non-profit sector by the CoE. According to the CoE, education has to be dealt with by the first sector. They wanted to reform education through laws. The fact that education was free of charge and that it was compulsory was in connection with the parental right which allowed parents to decide if they want religious education for their children. In France, debates about private education mainly concern personal education, while in the UK, they mostly concern the matter of social privilege. In Europe, the idea was generally accepted that private education would be an unaffordable luxury in the new transition societies so the CoE did not support efforts in this direction. [28]

Contrary to private education, support for national, ethnic and regional identity led to the creation of several new charters and frame agreements. [29] The CoE put emphasis on the transformation of training programmes in its activities: highlighting the integration and critical functions of education and the development of cultural and civilian identity. The cooperation of civil society, and the participation of parents and university students in the management of schools was remarkably important in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russia.

Originally, higher education did not appear as a national duty in Europe. The role of governments appeared only at the turn of the 18th-19th centuries. Thus, higher education has predominantly civilian origins in European societies. Today, most of the institutes operate under the regulations of public law and are not regarded as part of the governmental mechanism but as an autonomous body. This means that both education and research can be managed by private organisations or private persons as well (see Soros-CEU). However, even in this view, the state has an important role because of the expensive maintenance of these institutions. In most countries, the state is the dominating financier in order to ensure wide-ranging and fair access for its citizens and also because of the limited opportunities of schools operating as for-profit institutions.

The civilian social perspective of higher education appeared even more strongly in the ex-totalitarian regimes:

  • it should be capable of fulfilling the requirements in the unpredictable scope of activities of a dynamic and free society;
  • institutional and individual academic freedom should be the means of balance and appropriate distance from the state.

Answering to this expectation, the trends of privatisation formed in the following way: The CoE announced its legislative reform programme for higher education and research to the new democracies. The seminars, trainings and publications for government officials were organised by a hundred advisory groups. The CoE’s legislative reform programme for higher education and research did not dispute the governmental nature and the regulations of public law. It handled the creation of independent higher educational institutions separately from the European practice and considered it as inapplicable. Legal regulation dealt with the questions of management, autonomy and accountability. Accountability meant the quality of the educational staff and equal accessibility. Most of the countries endeavour to ensure quality, but the value and the content of degrees are not the same, the entrance examination process is not transparent, methods measuring the performance of students are not efficient, the ratio of women, minorities, physically disabled and those with poor social background is low. [30]

As an effect of the CoE’s activity, every country’s jurisdiction accepted the principle of academic freedom. It says that teacher and student cannot be dismissed in the case of a critical opinion. In order to ensure the opportunity for a critical attitude, the CoE accepted the point of view it already applied in the case of natural sciences. [31]

The students’ right for free movement became problematic from the 90s because a bill was passed in most of the countries banning political activity among students. The CoE’s programme opposed the bans saying they were not acceptable in practice and the decision of banning was the right of the institutions themselves.

The CoE’s programme, taking place between 1992 and 2000, among its initial policies, regulated the internal management of the institutions as well, especially in connection with rectors and treasurers. According to this, rectors must be elected for long term and for a defined length of time and they may not be transferable. As a result of the reform, student representatives became participants of the councils of higher educational institutes.

The CoE was stunned by the unexpected boom of private institutions of higher education in Central and Eastern Europe. This process had a significant effect on Western Europe as well and the spread of trans-national institutes also led the CoE to issue new regulations. The term ‘private higher education’ refers to institutions set up outside the public system of higher education, regardless of the legal status of their founders.  Public institutions are acknowledged, supported and accredited institutions. It is the national right of each state to decide on the matter of handling faith-based institutes as public or private institutes.

The recommendations on recognition and quality assessment of private institutions of higher education suggest that member states should consider the following principles:

  • legal protection of national academic institutions and structure;
  • regulation of the minimum requirements for the award of academic qualifications linked to bachelor, licence, master, magister and doctor titles;
  • introduction of minimal criteria for programmes of private institutions;
  • internal governance should include elected governing bodies and officers, and be approved by the authorities;
  • internal structures, staff and facilities should comply with national standards;
  • institutions should follow the national standard of internal academic structure with permanent academic positions;
  • institutions should have adequate permanent facilities, including a library and access to computerised information networks corresponding to the teaching and research activities. [32]

The following criteria should be applied with regard to authorisation, recognition and quality assessment of foreign higher education institutions operating local branches through a campus, to distance learning, or to programmes "franchised" from foreign higher education institutions:

  • institutions not authorised in their country of origin should not be authorised in other countries;
  • programmes of institutions not recognised by the competent authority of the country of origin should not be recognised by the authorities of the host country;
  • programmes "franchised" from foreign institutions should be granted recognition if their programmes comply with the standards of similar programmes in the host country;
  • branches of foreign institutions recognised in their country of origin should only be recognised after a separate assessment of their programmes and qualifications by the competent authority of the country in which the branch is located;
  • institutions should issue qualifications in the language(s) of the country in which they operate except when a recognised higher education institution offers programmes entirely in a foreign language. [33]

Higher education institutions should use UNESCO’s diploma supplement. It is an important part of the CoE recommendation that private institutions should be regulated regardless of which sector they are in. CoE recommends the establishment of independent accrediting groups besides the government as an advisory body. The aim is to reach a standard of quality that is comparable to that of the public sector. The accreditation boards of several countries work according to a common standard.

Private higher education expanded dramatically in the East Central European region in 1997, when the CoE regulation appeared, growing to more than 320,000 students. After Poland, Hungary and Romania, the private higher education movement has started in Slovakia , too. [34]

Unlike in other sectors of the economy, the pluralisation of the higher education sector did not take place through a privatisation process but by the establishment of other types of publicly-funded institutes besides the non-governmental sector: by the establishment of local governmental, faith-based and profit-oriented educational institutions. The appearance of trans-national institutions was an important factor in the pluralisation of higher education. The latter types became popular mostly in management and economic science education. It is a characteristic of the whole region that the educational staff have already been employees of both public and private institutions.

In Central Europe, most of the institutes are small, with less than 2000 students. The average number is 1200. The biggest problem of these institutions is that they have a single-track educational structure. The size of the sector can be seen in Table 6. [35]


Table 6. The number of students/lecturers in 2000/2001. compared to the number of all citizens

Country

number of students

number of lectures

number of citizens (million)

 

state

%

private

%

all

 

 

Albania

no data

 

nd

 

nd

   

Russia

241.100

87,0

35.900

13,0

277.000

20.086

10.0

Bulgaria

215.676

88,5

27.916

11,5

243.595

23.329

8.0

Croatia

117.205

98,6

1.646

1,4

118.851

5.585

4.3

Czech Republic

213.207

99,0

2.000

1,0

215.207

14.890

10.3

Estonia

38.511

74,8

12.963

25.2

51.474

3.715

1.4

Hungary

255.943

85,7

42.561

14,3

298.504

22.873

10.2

Latvia

78.156

87,3

11.353

12,7

89.509

5.160

2.3

Lithuania

nd

 

nd

 

nd

nd

nd

Macedonia

nd

 

nd

 

nd

nd

nd

Moldova

79.713

77,4

23.210

22,6

102.923

7.700

4.3

Poland

1.106.798

70,1

471.443

29,9

1.578.241

80.208

38.6

Romania

322.129

71,1

130.92

28,9

452.621

26.977

22.4

Russia

4.270.800

90,0

470.00

10,0

4.741.400

nd

144.8

Slovakia

125.054

99,3

842

0,7

125.896

11.559

5.4

Slovenia

nd

 

nd

 

nd

nd

nd

Ukraine

nd

 

nd

 

nd

nd

nd

Table 7. The number of higher educational institutions in the region in 2000/2001

 

number of institutions

 

state

%

private

%

All

Albania

no data

 

nd.

 

nd

White Russia

42

73.7

15

26.3

57

Bulgaria

79

89.7

9

10.3

88

Croatia

86

90.5

9

9.5

98

Czech Republic

28

66.7

14

33.3

42

Estonia

14

40.0

21

60.0

35

Hungary

30

48.4

32

51.6

62

Latvia

20

60.6

13

39.4

33

Lithuania

nd

 

nd

 

nd

Macedonia

nd

 

nd

 

nd

Moldova

57

50.0

57

50.0

114

Poland

115

37.1

195

62.9

310

Romania

57

40.7

83

59.3

140

Russia

607

62.9

358

37.1

965

Slovakia

18

90.0

2

10.0

20

Slovenia

nd

 

nd

 

nd

Ukraine

nd

 

nd

 

nd

Eastern European private higher education is managed using extremely low sums of money despite the occasional and partial governmental supports. In most of the countries, the first steps have been taken towards governmental acceptance of these institutions. Hungary holds a leading position in this process. Some institutions have already achieved several advantages compared to public institutes. The most significant features of the system are the following:

  • the leading institutions of private higher education which perform better than the public sector seem to appear;
  • the striving for the modification of the common policy has started so that it would not be unreasonable against the private sector;
  • private institutions have started to make contacts with business communities, are on the way to efficient management, have created purposeful investment policies and have started forming their internal personal and structural motivation systems.

As a result of the process, a number of the institutes have become centres of higher education, which has served as a regenerating tonic to the public institutions. Today, after the above-mentioned development, the ratio of private sector institutes is like in the USA, a country with a 350-year-old history. The strong vitality of the sector can be observed if we think of the fact that in spite of the limiting political regulations these institutions have stepped onto the path of globalisation. [36]

Technical literature puts stress on Hungary in respect of the privatisation of higher education. It shows that only the Hungarian private higher education is under strong governmental control within the region. It is in the Hungarian jurisdiction that only accredited institutions and programmes are allowed in the country. The largest blocking force in the development of Hungarian private higher education is the Hungarian Accreditation Committee, which impeded the boom of the sector. However, this is a very positive factor if we make comparisons with other countries because it helped avoid the creation of low-standard and huge higher educational networks.

On the other hand, the criteria of recognition, the strict system of indices and the initial opposition of the expert committees to any kind of innovation resulted in the preservation of the Hungarian status quo of institutional and training programmes. This affected public and non-governmental institutes equally. Despite the above-mentioned efforts, the integration of the public sector took place in Hungary by the turn of the millennium. [37]

3.1. Hungarian Higher Education Policy in the Past Period

The first quantity boom of Hungarian higher education after World War II took place until the 1970s. By then Hungary had better indices than most of the developed civil societies.38 The takeover of the Soviet type of higher education and research system disturbed the unity of education and research. The formation of the dualist system resulted in a strong but fragmented institutional structure according to the Soviet model. In the management of the sector the clear normative and task-based financing was not typical. Certain institutions 83installed an autarchy, often supporting kindergartens, laundries and different workshops. In the distribution of money the system was based on the agreement between the university hierarchy and politics.39 The model resulted in a decreasing number of students and an outdated institutional structure after the economic decline of the 1970s and 1980s.

After the changing of the regime all the governments, though with different emphasis, focused on higher education, recognising the international tendencies. The first freely elected government, although struggling with serious economic difficulties, supported the sector significantly. It prepared and carried out the first law referring to higher education. The government recognised the insufficiency of financing and made possible the foundation of alternatively supported institutions. With the help of the World Bank the technical shortcomings decreased.

The investments aiming at the modernization of higher education continued during the next government. The preparation of the structural reform was parallelly started and was termed the integration of the higher education. Still, that was not what made the second government famous, but the restrictive higher education regulations connected to the so-called Bokros Package. This great-scale rationalization programme divides public and professional public opinion as well. The foreign experts characterize the package as necessary and unavoidable regulations.40 Mr. Ferenc Somogyi, economist researcher, presents more widely accepted arguments in the higher education. According to the scholar the regulations were not of strategic importance. His opinion is that the decision-makers had in mind the more effective renewal of the human capital and not of the human resources. Accordingly, they restricted the budget of universities and colleges that resulted in mass dismissals. Those decision-makers did not think that either the research results or the burdens of education and its standard made necessary the maintaining of the former financing system.41

One can agree with Ferenc Sorogyi that this approach resulted from a short-term reasoning. New researches on the topic revealed that the series of regulations was only one in the process that affected higher education.42 That government policy had not been preceeded by extensive debate on the topic. It is clearly visible now that the real financing of higher education decreased considerably. However, the reasons are complex and cannot be attributed only to a government regulation.

The government elected in 1998 accentuated the process of modernization. The process of institutional integration was accelerated and completed in the framework of the European process of integration. Whereas in 1998 there were 119 state-owned, 32 religious, 6 foundation and 6 foreign educational institutions; in 2001 there were 17 state universities, 13 state colleges, 5 church universities, and 21 colleges as well as 9 foundation colleges.

The necessity of integration appeared in the first reading after the changing of the regime. The pressure of the World Bank accelerated the integration process. According to the system theory, integration diminishes per unit costs, brings about a penetrable and transparent institution for students and sponsors as well.

Integration does not automatically result in the institutional structure mentioned above, for there is no penetrable institution without a well functioning credit system. Moreover, per unit cost does not decrease without a transparent and clear task-based financing. This is the situation today.

The credit system is not working at the moment. The basis grounded financing is shaky, but the time for normative-based system has not come. There are changes going on in both fields.

The exclusive academic orientation that connects institutions with leading personalities has not changed. After the integration, the burocracy and its costs further increased because a new organization was created above the old structures, increasing the decision layers.

So the governments have been intensively and largely dealing with the problems of higher education. The scale of law-making also shows that. One success of our law-making body is the creation of the external evaluation system, namely the Hungarian Accreditation Commission. Governments have initiated a large number of changes in the past few years. Unfortunately, due to shortage of funds, lack of time and domestic political traditions, most decisions did not follow from a professional debate. Therefore, changes were preceded by twists and turns and great traumas. This decision rhymed well with the post communist management of institutions. Great professional forums have never expressed their common opinion with regards to the current matters. A rare example is the constant discriminative viewpoint of the state institutions concerning the affairs of the non-state owned sector. Processes in our country are still influenced by lobbying and personal interests. The political weight and the inertia of the universities economically in deficit are very suffocating, while there is no solution to their budgetary problems.

If decision makers are sometimes to take into consideration professional opinions, those are mainly the ideas of certain universities or university groups, but not the outcome of a professional debate. This way, some professional regulations such as qualification requirements are not in concordance with most of the current rules, namely the always-changing credit system etc.

That is why the accredited advanced vocational training was not a resounding success. From the implementation of the regulation there has always been vacancies on the list of applicants. One aim of Hungarian higher education was to legalize those courses that returned a profit. One has to acknowledge as a success that a few entrepreneur institutions did not resist the pressure from the public education institutes. The most delicate issue of the once technician course is the co-operation of the higher education institute and the secondary school, with special emphasis on the quality management.      

The most frequent of the quality management purposes in higher education are the following:

  • striving for a calculated use of  public funds
  • quality management of higher education services
  • supporting of public assistance decisions
  • keeping students and employers well informed
  • incentive for competition inside and outside the institution
  • quality examination of new institutes
  • quality gradation of institutions
  • assuring the transfer between state and higher education
  • assisting the student’s mobility
  • preparation of international comparisons

The formation of the quality management standards needs deeper analysis and more profound professional debate. The quality management standards of the industry cannot be applied in education, not to mention higher education. The ‘firm like’ elements of the institution functioning have standardized, and there are certain constant and measurable traces in the pedagogical activity as well. The ‘product’ can be defined as the qualified and trained person, or from another perspective the notion of the marketable knowledge. On the other hand, the educational process is the most decisive element of the activity, the most complex and emotional deed. It changes continuously even with constant actors, so it can be measured with difficulty with the help of traditional devices only. Earlier researchers neglected the topic in Hungary, but lately the publications appear in greater number. Scholars like Elemér Hankiss44, who has previously not dealt with the topic, expresses his opinion. The spreading scientific polemic is necessary for a positive quality management orientation in the domestic education. It should not be only one of the administrative commitments, for the institutionalised quality management system was a government regulation at the beginning of the 1990s.

The National Accreditation Commission and its legal successor the Hungarian Accreditation Commission’s destiny is to officially and regularly evaluate the educational activity of the higher education institutes. This professionally independent body deals with the examination of institutions, and carries out tasks connected to the accreditation of certain departments. The body had tremendous tasks, but by now the order of given procedures has taken shape. The certain viewpoints applied in procedures have measurability in focus. Such is the law of labour and the qualification rating systems connected to the number of teaching staff. The successful work of the Hungarian Accreditation Commission is prevented by the fact that the members are sworn to secrecy. Only the outcome of the evaluation was made public and not the important details. This made the whole process dogmatic and subjective that was informative for the leaders of the institutes but not for teaching staff and students. This theory does not accept that certain institutions are actors of a specific market, and where the consumer’s –the student’s- right is to get to know the service better before application. Choosing an educational institution is a question of trust. This trust is strengthened by the publication of results. The decision initiated by the Hungarian Accreditation Commission referring to the exclusion of the public helped real competition. The Hungarian accreditation process was largely adjusted to the international practice, but it has to be completed with the self-evaluation system of institutes. This was recognised at an early stage by state-owned and private institutions alike. Non state-owned and church institutions are working on a common self-evaluation system. The basic approach is the definition of education as a complex service and the quality measurement of the service. This self-evaluation system can complete the network of the Hungarian Accreditation Commission. Thus, consumers and institutions that secure services have a better insight into the ongoing educational processes.

The state altered the law to give incentive to the institutional self-evaluation. The paragraph 6 of the law nr. XCVII issued in the year 2000 says that in the regulation of the higher education institute, the quality management is defined according to the quality requirements of the higher education.

The institutional practice of the quality management that helps the competence of institutions is not satisfactory. Our higher education has to tackle the problems resulting from the great number of students and has to make sure that there is real knowledge behind diplomas. The ‘Bologna Proclamation’ accepted in 1999 calls for the support of European co-operation based on comparative criteria and methods in the field of quality management. So, the proclamation wants to harmonize the national higher education systems on the basis of a common quality management system, and not on the content of their education.

3.2. Development: without ideology and philosophy

The domestic higher education has been a highlighted area of the public policy in the past ten years. It is less known, however, to what degree was the restructuring of higher education a conscious programme in the changing of the government. Another question is the real aim of higher education reforms, and whether these were enough to convey the economic, social and political values. The survey cannot avoid the educational effects of the Hungarian foreign policy, such as the Euro-Atlantic orientation, the relationship with our neighbours and the Hungarians living outside Hungary

The peculiarities of the changing of the regime restricted the role and adjustment of higher education. The lack of economic scenario presented the main problem; privatisation was based on the settlement of foreign capital. The political elite of the time had no idea about the human resources necessary for the pluralized and differentiated economic institutions, and the development of the service sector. The image of higher education of the political elite was influenced by three factors. Firstly, the image was based on the values before 1945, which is true today as well. Secondly, another important role in the higher education picture was played by the manager view of the 1990s. Thirdly, the takeover of the European educational liberalism was met with full approval. On the other hand, the political elite had a strong belief in the superiority of the Hungarian higher educational system, with regards to its content, identity and the organization of education.

The Hungarian political elite was recruited mainly from higher education during the process of the changing of the regime. It gave the impression to critics and analysts that intellectuals came to power.

During the process the intellectual groups were greatly mobilised, polarised and they became interested in the creation of plural systems for higher education. First of all the pluralism of higher education resulted in the formation of higher education workshops from the state education system. Meanwhile the foundation of private higher education was launched from the institutional systems of higher education and vocational training. It occurred parallelly with the institutionalisation of ideological pluralism and the formation of religious higher education institutions. The inner processes were amplified by the appearance of the institutional systems of the open society, the independent settlement of the multinational training institutions and the attachment to the Hungarian higher education institutions.

It was a serious task for the elite to take part in the changing of the regime to create the responsiveness to western, technical consulting, and to establish the legal, institutional capacity of the European integration. The priorities set by the Council of Europe met the national political intentions, in which it was difficult to insert  education on a market basis. The appearance of private higher education was tolerated by placing it into the category of educational colourfulness formed by alternative pedagogy. However, their interest was to preserve its supplementary characteristics.

The first ten years of the changing of the regime were subordinated to the monetary politics as it was in agreement with the monetary education of the Hungarian financial expert elite. Instead of the most important political questions of the development of higher education such as the ending of fragmentation and the introduction of a credit system, the development of educational sphere, the improvement of libraries, information labs, students' hostels characterised the building of effective management and register systems. The radical change of the student-teacher rate is an integral part of this mentality, which resulted in the Bokros package - mentioned above - for higher education.

The development package of the World Bank also aimed to create mass education, however, instead of building up regional systems for higher education, it concentrated on the centralisation of the state institution system. The Hungarian education structure has changed radically in a pluralist environment.

The questions were for example how higher education as the preservation of a welfare institution system can contribute to higher education, how the public political problems can be solved by neglecting monetary solutions. The requirement of education as being a public political supply appeared and still appears as an essential value. The rationalisation and financing reform (treasury management) restricted to the state sector could not and cannot solve the maintenance of financing higher education. The dynamic change is still taking place. Unfortunately instead of mature professional conceptions, administrative solutions prevail mostly because of current political considerations and strong lobby activities.

The precondition of the present successful society is that its education system should operate properly. This commonplace remark became obvious in the fifties of the twentieth century after the technical and information  technology explosion. However, the need for mass education became a real challenge for the leaders and participants of education only after the events of the year 1968.

The democratisation of secondary and higher education training has shaken the several-hundred-year-old European national education systems. The questions of mass versus quality, mass versus financing are still decisive elements of scientific debates and of certain reforms following them. The new challenge is integrated into the traditional questions, which is the consequence of European integration. On our integrative continent besides the traditional problems of the more or less disintegrated educational networks protected by national states, we have to face the threat of evaluation on the unifying educational market. First of all it is true for the higher education sector, which is under a continuous change. In the formation of a new European structure, Hungarian higher education had less time to have debates, to prepare properly for decisions, as we had only a short period of time - only 10 years- to study the changes mentioned above.

3.3 Some possible solutions for the most urgent problems

The so-called Bologna process that aimed at the creation of the unified European space has generated new challenges in recent years. The need for a new structural change was depicted last year. Referring to the statements in the Bologna document, the traditionally good, dual system of higher education is on the eve of changes. The danger lurks in the politics of the government in power as it requests quick changes, especially if at this time  professional debates do not precede the decision either. However, we are convinced that the Hungarian higher education relying on its inner power and mental capital can avoid the developmental disturbances generated by quick changes. Instead of politicians, professional groups should form the principles of higher educational development. Afterwards confronted according to various interests, they should be presented to decision-makers. 

Most of the time the process reversed during the various governments in power. The professional organisations provided their opinion concerning the prepared proposals only later on. In addition the consideration of the ideas was rather arbitrary or it was not done by the decision-makers. After the general remarks, we conclude our essay with some concrete suggestions. In a short period of time these suggestions cannot be delayed and they provide solutions for questions at macro level. Out of these the most urgent question is unavoidably the financing.

It is not accidental that most of our traditional great universities are in trouble and colleges have fewer problems. The present normative system cannot provide adequate security for universities to do their tasks in research and education. The fewer research tasks of colleges and their less expensive education is suitable for maintaining the minimum level. On the other hand  the problem is more comprehensive so money itself could not solve the problem. The reason is that the system is poor and lavish at the same time. Nothing can prove it better than the existence of private institutions. In a  state-operated system the private institutions would have gone bankrupt as most of the time they have a smaller budget than state institutions. The tuition fees do not even approach the normative support of that certain training. Under no circumstances is it a solution to make them participate in market competition concerning their basic activities. The trouble starts with the usual essential problems. The state with its treasury mechanisms is the worst and most lavish owner. It is an owner who is inconceivable, but wants to regulate at the same time. It ordains the income plan and the income obtained by competitions, even the non-recurrent appears as an obligation next year. The support is reduced immediately. The higher education institutions are not able to manage in a treasury system. This way there is no point in calling to account the modern education organising principles and the effectiveness of their budget. At the same time, unfortunately, there is no use  increasing the sum to finance  without the alteration of the structure. This way the surplus would be spent without actual results. So we should start with the clarification of the owner. The owner cannot be a ministry because essentially  it has different tasks. The bureaucratic mechanisms created during governmental work could not be successful even in the case of strong centralisation.

How and who could be called to account for the management of higher education? In the present system, considering the legal regulations, the director of the institution may do everything in order to spend money in a standard way. But actually he could not do anything for autonomous management because he did not have the possibility. So in the present system the deans and directors cannot be blamed for financing . A solution could be to create the so called owners’ committees , in which the state, the local governments and enterprises giving support would have votes according to the rate of capital provided by them. This way financing the institution from the central budget and other income, the director could be called to account continuously. The given budget is supervised by the experts in finance, the owner, and the authorities representing the owner. This way of using state money allows the central regulation to have a management similar to enterprises. The pattern is given as the authorities of private institutions operate this way as well. Obviously this is not privatisation as the state remains the bigger owner. Still the form is more effective and flexible. This time it is worth creating a manager status next to the academic status of the dean or director. Nevertheless the flexible management cannot avoid increasing the financing either. First of all it should be substantially increased at the non-market university level. The free basic level education should be maintained and the non-market basic research should be financed as well. It means additional charges for the state budget. In a transparent system it is a rightful claim to possess in order to regulate the employee's obligations. The regulations at a national level can be only a frame of character, as the local owner's committee and the institutional council can provide the best regulations within the frames. Otherwise the autonomy of higher education remains a fiction. 

 We have to bear in mind how the big national level system should be operated in the near future. We should not determine the exact number and size of the institutions as the failure of such voluntary regulations is obvious. However, we should decide what we find important in education and research. According to national interests this should be financed directly. In addition we should discover those spheres for which we can find partners to help financing. Finally we should determine those spheres that are market-oriented. This system is inconvenient for the state because in the so-called task-financing model the state ceases 'to distribute favour' in other words its political influence becomes smaller.

From the things mentioned above it is clear that the privatisation of higher education, or directing it according to market conceptions cannot be the objective. The institutions that are not financed by the state have a crucial role in the non-marketable fields. The reason is that they lower the burden of the budget. If most of the institutions financed by the state can operate properly and securely from the support provided by the state, then the strange relation between the two spheres would come to an end. A good example of this might be that the conference of the directors of private institutions was not accepted by the authority combining higher education directors.

The present financing model is not fair to students either. The conception seems as if the person of the owner was all the same. Everyone can provide training independently, regardless of the method of financing and the maintenance. This system lessens the differences between the maintainers and consequently the differences between management as well. This situation also divides the students within one institution. In the case of financing a task, the state institutions should get full support to do their basic tasks. In the same situation a non state institution which is even more flexible in this system may get allotments for students according to personal rights. There is financing with this kind of conception in some of the EU countries.

The other current issue is structural. In recent years the process of European integration , as a second integration process the question of the so-called academic reform came up. The base of reference was the 'Bologna Proclamation'. However, the proclamation contained only principles. It is a fact that most of the higher education systems, which are getting unified and more international, have chosen the linear way. An example could be Norway as it has done the same recently. Still most of the countries relying on the structural traditions of their own system try to approach to each other in the content regulation rather than in an administrative way. What should this experience mean in present day Hungary? The answer is that the dual system operating properly should not be abolished. We should not close down colleges as they have totally different functions that would take a long time to switch over to. This would take away their narrow research and education capacity from their essential tasks, which are the research and the so-called creative intellectual training. How could it be solved? On the one hand we should interpret the international credit system as a device. We should determine the training structure and finally the qualifications and the systems of qualifications. According to this after a four-year-programme colleges give a BA degree, which is accepted in the international system. This is a university undergraduate qualification and a professional qualification at the same time. To continue studies the university undergraduate qualification (MA, Economics etc.) can be obtained at the university in three years. It is followed by two or three professional programmes. A professional university qualification can only be obtained this way. The certain levels can be provided according to the international credit system with intergovernmental contracts. The pre and post forms of training are compatible and the conditions of the Hungarian Accreditation Committee are given as well. It is true that it is more difficult and takes a longer time to do such work with continuous consulting than to make an administrative decision, but it is worth doing it.

Finally, about the research of higher education. There are only a few workshops dealing with higher education. This essay also shows that a number of unanswered questions remain. They can only be answered by doing further research. Our standpoint is that research workshops among institutions should be formed at least at regional level. If such workshops exist it might be easier to elaborate joint developmental programmes. The dialogue between the participants of political power and higher education might become grounded. This could lead to real autonomy.

The topics mentioned above are selected from the numerous problems of Hungarian higher education but these are the most urgent ones of the near future.

In the organisation of the work of certain institutions, in the managing of the national educational policy, and in the forming of a unified educational sphere only the complex and mature solutions might provide results, after a preparation based on research that deals with professional and financial viewpoints at the same time. In the implementation of decisions the corrections must be accomplished with the help of continuous control. Unfortunately, these elementary statements are not considered clichés or everyday practices either in the management of institutions or in the national educational policy and or even in the EU practice.

 


[1] Somogyi Ferenc: Gazdasági változások a rendszerváltás után. (Economic changes after the change of the political system). Székesfehérvár: Kodolányi János Fõiskola, 2001.

[2] ibid.

[3] Székesfehérvár Megyei Jogú Város Önkormányzatának Közgyűlési iratai (Documents of the General Assembly of the Self-Government of Székesfehérvár), 1992/5. sz.

[4] Somogyi ibid.

[5] For example Central Bureau of Statistics, Budapest, 1999.

[6] Based on the yearbook of Central Bureau of Statistics, Budapest, 2000.

[7] Átmenet a tanulás világából a munka világába. (Transition from the realm of studies to the realm of work). OECD, 1999.

[8] Maurice Kogan, M. Bauer, Bleiklie, M. Henkel: Transforming Higher Education. A comparative study. Jessica Kingsley Publisher, London. 2000. pp. 37-52.

[9] Shor, Ira -- Freire, Paulo: A Pedagogy for Liberation. Dialogues on Transforming Education. Bergin and Garvey, 1987.

[10] Elisabeth Dunne: The Learning Society. International Perspectives on Core Skills in Higher Education. Kogan, 1999.

[11] Hervainé dr. Szabó Gyöngyvér: A társadalomfilozófiai változások hatása a kisebbségi képzésre és oktatásra. (The effects of social philosophical changes on minority education) In: Beszteri Béla -- Mikolasek Sándor (szerk.): A kisebbségek helyzete Közép-Kelet-Európában és Magyarországon. (The position of ethnic minorities in Central-Eastern Europe and Hungary) Tudományos konferencia. MTA VEAB, 1997. 149-156.

[12] Patrick Slattery: A Postmodern Vision of Time and Learning: A Response to the National Education Commission Report Prisoners of Time in Harvard Educational Review, vol. 65. No. 4. winter, 1995. 612-632.

[13] Edmund O’Sullivan: Transformative Learning. Educational Vision for the 21st Century. OISE/ÚT University Toronto Press, Zed Book, 1999. pp. 45-54.

[14] Paul Cappon: The choice Between State-Provided Delivery of Education and International Trade in Education. 7th OECD/ Japan Seminar on E-learning in Post secondary

[15] Giesecke, Hans, C.: The rise of Private Higher Education in East Central Europe. Table 1.

[16] Ed. Peter Scott: The globalization of Higher Education. SHRE, OUP. 1998.

[17] Callan, Hilary: The International Vision in Practice: A Decade of Evolution. In: Higher Education in . UNESCO, 2000. No. 1. pp. 15-23.

[18] Ed. Peter Scott: The Globalization of Higher Education. SHRE, OUP. 1998.

[19] Európa Tanács: Recommendation R(97)1 on Recognition and Quality Assessment of Private Institutions os Higher Education.

[20] Jean-Claude Eicher: The Costs and Financing of Higher Education in Europe. In: European Journal of Education, 1998/1. p.31.

[21] Péter Szabó: Higher Education in Tampere (Finnland). Konferenciaelőadás, 2001. augusztus.

[22] uo.

[23] Lénárd Sándor – Rapos Nóra: A felsőoktatás modernizálásának európai és hazai tendenciái. ELTE BTK – Pro Educatione Identis Hungariae Alapítvány, Budapest, 1999.

[24] Lénárd Sándor – Rapos Nóra: A felsőoktatás modernizálásának európai és hazai tendenciái. ELTE BTK-Pro Educatione Identis Hungariae Alapítvány, Budapest, 1999.

[25] Ed. Peter Scott: The Globalization of Higher Education. SHRE, OUP. 1998.

[26] Giesecke, Hans, C: The Rise of Private Higher Education in East Central Europe. Table 2.

[27] ET Legislative Reform Programme (1992-2000). Interneten: http://culture.coe.fr/infocenter/kiosk

[28] Wimberely, James: Civil Society and the Reform of Higher Education in Central and Eastern Europe: Perspectives from the Council of Europe. In: Higher Education in . UNESCO, 1999. No.4. pp. 483-491.

[29] Recommendation on the Social Sciences and the Challenge of Transition (2000/12) (Adopted by Committee of Ministers on 13 July 2000, at the 717th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.

[30] Council of Europe: Recommendation R(97)1 on Recognition and Quality Assessment of Private Institutions of Higher Education

[31] Redommendation on the Social Sciences and the Challenge of Transition (2000/12) (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 13 July 2000, at the 717th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies.

[32] Council of Europe: Recommendation R(97)1 on Recognition and Quality Assessment of Private Institutions of Higher Education.

[33] ET Draft Code of Good Practice in Provision of Transnational Education.

[34] Giesecke, Hans, C: The Rise of Private Higher Education in East Central Europe

[35] Forrása az internetről: www.cepes.ro/information_services/statics.htm

[36] Giesecke, Hans, C: The Rise of Private Higher Education in East Central Europe. Table 1.

[37] Teixeira, Pedro – Amaral, Alberto: Private Higher Education and Diversity: An Exploratory Survey. In: Higher Education Quarterly, 0951-5224. Volume 55, No. 4, October 2001. pp. 359-395.

Péter Szabó: A Few Questions of the Hungarian Higher Education at the Turn of the Millennium and the Possible answers in the Future

István Polonyi- János Tímár: Knowledge Factory or Paper Factory? Új Mandátum, 2001

40 Ids.

Ferenc Somogyi: Economic Processes after the Changing of the Regime. KJF 2001, Székesfehérvár

42 Id.

Polonyi-Tímár

Elemér Hankiss: School and Quality. http://www.om.hu/ 2001.

Polónyi-Tímár

See the previously presented ones

 
¤ lap tetejére