In response to the challenges of globalisation, in recent years the government has made intensive efforts to establish cross-border cooperation for educational purposes, strengthen relationships partly within the frames of bilateral agreements and partly in international cooperations. In order to implement a wider European and international dimension, the government intends to encourage and develop relationships with the South-East-European, Asian and South-American countries.
Bilateral educational work plans (cooperation programmes) specify the quotas and conditions of scholarships offered to Hungarians studying or teaching abroad or foreign students/lecturers studying/teaching in Hungary. There are several types of scholarships including participating in study visits. These range from an exchange of experience lasting for a few days to research taking several months. Summer universities abroad offer mainly language learning opportunities. A full scholarship finances 5-6 years of university education, at the end of which the scholarship holder returns home with a diploma. Partial scholarships provide for 1 or 2 semesters of study abroad, while PhD scholarships allow doctoral students to spend 3 academic years abroad.
In-service teacher trainings that are organised in a form based on bilateral intergovernmental agreements in the fields of education, culture and sport, or as work plans, cooperation programmes and records for specified periods and aimed at implementing interministerial agreements signed by the Ministry of Human Resources, to be implemented in Hungary or in the contracting country may be recognised as in-service trainings. Further training courses based on such agreements are recognized for 31 countries.
Cooperation and participation in worldwide programmes and organisations
Hungary's most important international partners in the field of education are the European Council, the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council of the European Council, the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, the Education Policy Committee (OECD EDPC), the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (OECD CERI), and the Working Party on Indicators of Educational Systems (OECD INES WP) of the OECD, UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
Hungary also takes part in the international assessment organised by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), in organising Student Olympics and in the work of international organisations for teachers, teacher trainers, researchers and parents. In the following, there are some of the activities that Hungary has been actively participating in.
The Department for International and Bilateral Relations in the Ministry of Culture and Innovation is responsible for coordinating the tasks related to the Interdepartmental Committee for European Coordination, memberships in international and regional organisations (OECD; UN and its specific bodies; ILO; UNESCO; WHO; the European Council; the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); V4 etc.).
The Educational Authority under the control of the Ministry of Interior is responsible for providing the participation in the international assessments organised by the OECD and IEA, as well as the related coordination, implementation and data analyses. The Educational Authority also coordinates the implementation of the EUROSTUDENT and EUROGRADUATE surveys in Hungary. In the former, Hungary is participating for the fourth time, and in the latter for the first time.
Cooperation with the Member States of the European Union and the European Commission in the Open Method of Cooperation
The community coordination of educational policies started with the Lisbon Strategy, the consolidation of the tools set for open method of cooperation took place in the second half of the 2000s, after the accession of Hungary. The open method of cooperation in the field of education also aims to achieve its objectives by means of indirect tools and incentives rather than through regulation, using among others targeted sharing of knowledge, information exchange, and mutual learning between the member states, which mainly happen within thematic working groups, policy networks, and expert working groups.
Hungary had its representatives in several expert working groups of the EU, and delegated experts to the working groups in the fields of school policy, transversal competences, VET, modernization of higher education, adult learning, as well as digital competences and online learning.
Cooperation in the Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework
One of the most significant fields for cooperation is the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). Hungary joined the EU-level activities early on and in 2006 hosted a European conference proposed by the European Commission. The conference summarised the findings of the European consultation, with the aim to reach a consensus between international actors, governments, renowned experts and users concerning the main principles and next national and European steps in policy making that are necessary for the establishment of the EQF.
It was decided in a Government decree (2069/2008) issued in 2008 to join the European Qualifications Framework and develop a Hungarian Qualifications Framework (HuQF) in accordance with the EQF. In January 2011, a Government Decree set up a professional working group with the objective to organise the sectorial, subsectorial linking of the HuQF as well as the consultation between various stakeholders and social partners. In 2012, the government defined the tasks necessary to introduce the HuQF and its time schedule.
The development of the HuQF was funded by the European Structural Funds. In 2015, the referencing process took place, in the framework of which experts compared the levels of the HuQF with those in EQF, and stated that the required learning outcomes of the various levels were compliant with each other. The HuQF following the structure of the EQF also has 8 levels. The characteristics (knowledge, skills, competence) were the same as initially used by the EQF level descriptors. Following a new recommendation adopted by the Council in May 2017, the descriptors of qualification levels are based on four characteristics: knowledge, skills, attitudes, responsibility and autonomy. Official EQF platform lists all of the member states that finished this referencing process and makes the link to their referencing report accessible. After this procedure, every new diploma, certificate and Europass document will indicate the HuQF and the EQF level achieved.
Higher Education institutions had to adjust their curricula to the revised national qualifications requirements until September 2017. The new list of qualifications was accepted in 2015 (no. 139/2015. (VI. 9.) Government decree), these were actualized in 2017 (357/2017. Government decree). The training and learning outcome requirements of the qualifications included in the list were specified in compliance with the Hungarian Qualifications Framework in August 2016 (no. 18/2016. (VIII. 5.) EMMI Decree of the Minister of Human Resources).
The new requirements describe the name and credit value, learning outcomes, study fields, specific requirements for professional practice, as well as the final degree thesis and foreign language skills for each programme. The above training and learning outcome requirements shall apply to all higher education institutions offering the same qualifications. As a next step, higher education institutions had to adjust their curricula to the new requirements, and introduce them from September 2017. This means that the regulation of education provides the legal framework and the recognition of foreign studies as a part of the students’ domestic studies. In order to promote mobility for study purposes, a decree dated in 2015 (no. 87/2015. (IV. 9.) Government decree) made the integration of a mobility window (in all bachelor and master programmes) from 2019/2020 compulsory.
Cooperation with the OECD
Hungary joined the OECD in 1996. Since then Hungary has taken part in the OECD’s programmes related to education, such as the country assessments run by CERI (Centre for Education, Research and Innovation) and the thematic projects (of which Hungary has taken part in the analyses about early childhood education and care, teachers, special needs education, VET, leadership and pupils’ assessment).
An important field in cooperation with the OECD is the participation in the INES (Indicators of Education Systems) programme. This also includes the statistical data supply related to the production of the yearly publication titled Education at a Glance, as well as performing other large-scale data collections of ad hoc nature.
Hungary has taken part since the beginning, i.e. since 2000 in the PISA Programme (Programme of International Student Assessment) that is carried out on behalf of the OECD every three years among the 15-year-old learners to assess their competences in mathematics and natural sciences. In 2016, Hungary also joined the large-scale PIAAC assessment studying the competences of the adult population aged between 16 and 65.
Additional assessments that should be noted are the international teacher assessment of OECD carried out every five years, the TALIS research (Teaching and Learning International Survey). Hungary participated in the first survey carried out in 2008, but not in the second one (2013), however, Hungary has joined the survey in 2018 again.
Hungary has participated in the ITEL (Innovative Teaching for Effective Learning) experimental Project of the Centre for Education, Research and Innovation (CERI) of the OECD. The project’s aim was to develop and test the validation of measuring instruments suitable for the measurement of the pedagogical knowledge. As a result, one can get a picture of the pedagogical knowledge of teachers, as well as the dynamics of the knowledge of the teacher profession, and to contribute to the development of policies related to teacher training. The project primarily sought to find out what was the relationship between the development of the 21. century skills of the students and the knowledge, skills, learning opportunities of the teachers. After developing the theoretical framework, the research team conducted a pilot study in volunteering countries, including Hungary. The Tempus Public Foundation was the professional partner responsible for the implementation. The target groups for the 2017 survey were students in teacher training, practising teachers and teacher trainers. The two main results of the pilot project are the publication (Pedagogical Knowledge and the Changing Nature of the Teaching Profession) and the research report (Understanding teachers' pedagogical knowledge).
Cooperation in Education Research
CIDREE (Consortium of Institutions for Development and Research in Education) is an organisation creating a network of European education research and development institutions. The organisation holds common expert meetings, conferences, and implements joint projects. The consortium built on network-based learning was established in 1990 and has now 18 members, including Hungary (the Hungarian member is the Educational Authority). The main forms of consortium cooperation are the collaborative projects, the yearly publication, research exchanges, a conference organized before the annual general meeting, and the annual yearbook.