A few days ago I saw a headline that read something like this: "Five Hungarian universities among the best schools in the world." That headline aroused my curiosity because until now I have heard only about the sad state of Hungarian higher education. Among the top 200 universities in the world not one was Hungarian. So I decided to look behind the headline and found the following. First of all, the survey was not about universities but business schools. And "among the best" meant "among the best 1,000." The survey covered 150 countries and in European countries they found 331 best business schools. So, in brief, the headline greatly exaggerated the importance of this piece of news.
On the very same day that this headline appeared in the Hungarian media Sándor Friderikusz’s guest was Géza Komoróczy, professor of oriental studies, who is deeply dissatisfied with the current state of Hungarian higher education. In Hungary the number of students in colleges and universities has grown enormously while the number of professors has remained practically the same. Many new institutions with low standards have opened their doors. According to Komoróczy, they are at the level of an American community college. And that is pretty low! Komoróczy mentioned that students arrive at ELTE, where he teaches and which is one of the better universities in Hungary, with incredible deficiencies. A few years ago Professor Komoróczy didn’t have to flunk anyone, but now at one of the exams he gave forty students failed.
Meanwhile I saw a YouTube video on which Ferenc Gyurcsány in Davos emphasized the importance of learning. A learned population is the key to success in global competition. If that is the case, and I believe Gyurcsány is right, Hungary is in big trouble. Half a million people barely finished eight grades and have no skills. And according to experts on educational matters, the existence of the kind of elite Professor Komoróczy finds lacking in Hungary is simply not enough in today’s world. There ought to be those who are not necessarily students of oriental studies but who have learned to think and who are able to work on sophisticated machinery, manage a business, run a supermarket, and so on.
University professors cry over the disappearance of the former elitist educational system, but a new, broadly based educational system has not yet been developed. So the situation is rather grim.