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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Fundamental principles and national policies


2.Organisation and governance

2.1Fundamental principles and national policies

Last update: 28 March 2024

Fundamental Principles

The Fundamental Law of Hungary  (Magyarország Alaptörvénye)  declares that all Hungarian citizens have the right to education, and the state guarantees this right to all of its citizens by extending and generalising public education, providing free and compulsory basic education, free and generally available upper-secondary education, and higher education available to every person according to his or her abilities.

It declares that Hungary ensures fundamental rights to every person without any discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, disability, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or any other status.

It acknowledges that every child has the right to the protection and care required for his or her proper development and that the parents have the right to choose the type of upbringing they deem to fit for their children. At the same time, it declares that the parents are obliged to look after their underage children, including the provision of schooling for their children.

The essence of these constitutional rights from the educational point of view is that the state ensures its citizens basic (i.e. primary and lower secondary) education on a free but compulsory basis, and it further guarantees that upper-secondary and higher education should be accessible to everybody in accordance with their capabilities, and participants will be granted financial support. Thus, education is a public service provided by the state at all levels by maintaining its institutions and creating the necessary legislative framework. 

The right to education means, beyond scientific and artistic freedom, the freedom of learning and teaching as well. The freedom of learning involves the right to choose one's preferred educational institution and its faculty, and programme(s), and the right to establish educational institutions. Thus, no state monopoly may be enforced in this area, and churches, NGOs, foundations, and private individuals may freely decide to establish and operate educational institutions. Those establishing such an institution are free to specify their institution's educational profile, the religious or ideological orientation or lack of such, as well as the major principles of education.

The right to freedom of conscience and religion, the right to freedom of expression, the separation of the state and churches, and the right of national and ethnic minorities to use their mother tongue and to receive education in their mother tongue are key constitutional rights and fundamental principles as regards to education.

There is a single obligation on the constitutional level related to education, and that is compulsory education. This means that law obliges parents (residing in Hungary irrespective of their citizen status) to ensure that their children of mandatory school age attend school. The child, in the year in which he/she reaches the age of 6 years by 31st August, but not later than the following year, is the subject of compulsory education until the age of 16.

General Education

The objective of the general education system (Act CXC of 2011 on the National Public Education (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről)) is to promote the harmonious spiritual, physical and intellectual development of children and young people while respecting their skills, knowledge, proficiency, education and their age characteristics. The primary task of general education is to raise and educate responsible citizens who are able to live a moral, independent life, and can reconcile private interests with public interests. Another aim of general education is to prevent social exclusion and support talent development through education.

The tasks of general education are also to support pre-school early childhood development, to consider the special needs of children and pupils with special educational needs, to help their integration, learning and behavioural difficulties, and their ability to adapt to their individual abilities, thus to create the fuller extent in their social inclusion opportunities.

The school system of general education can be interoperable in accordance with the requirements declared by the law, thereby the school system can be transferred to another school or school type even during the school year.

The content unit of general education and the inter-school interoperability is ensured by the National Core Curriculum (hereinafter referred to as NCC), which defines the content of education and sets mandatory provisions for the organization of education. (Government Decree 110/2012. (VI. 4.) on the Issuance, Introduction and Implementation of the National Core Curriculum (110/2012. (VI. 4.) Korm. rendelet a Nemzeti alaptanterv kiadásáról, bevezetéséről és alkalmazásáról). The framework assures the implementation of those provided in NCC. The framework (Kerettantervek) includes the aims of education and training, the subject system, the subjects, content of the subject, the requirements of subjects for one or two class years, furthermore the tasks of developing the cross-curricular knowledge and the capability development. It also specifies the mandatory and recommended time frame for fulfilling all the requirements.

Adherence to the uniform principles of pre-school (kindergarten) education are determined by the National Core Programme for Kindergarten Education. (Government Decree No. 363/2012. (XII. 17.) the National Core Programme of Kindergarten Education and Care (363/2012. (XII. 17.) Korm. rendelet az Óvodai nevelés országos alapprogramjáról))

Public Education Strategy

In August 2020, the Government adopted the Public Education Strategy for the 2021-2030 programme period, which aims to create an equitable and modern national public education system. (Public Education Strategy 2021-2030 (Köznevelési stratégia 2021-2030))

The strategy sets out five specific objectives and 14 areas of action.

1. Ensuring the internal balance of education
  • Integrated intellectual, spiritual and physical development of pupils
  • Development of early childhood institutional education
2. Human resource development in public education as a public service
  • Improving the competence and esteem of teachers
  • Increasing the role of those who directly support the teaching and learning process
  • Developing and supporting heads of institutions
3. Equitable, individualised public education
  • Reducing underachievement and early school leaving - creating opportunities, integration, catching up
  • Inclusive education, development of children and pupils with special educational needs
  • Strengthening talent support
4. Public education responding to the challenges of the 21st century
  • Developing digital skills and services
  • Developing foreign language skills
  • Content development
  • Modern public education infrastructure
5. Improving the education of Hungarians living abroad and the nationalities in Hungary
  • Implementing the Carpathian Basin Education Area
  • Supporting the education of the nationalities living in Hungary

Vocational Education and Training

The aim of the vocational education and training system is to ensure that the vocational qualifications (sought and recognized by the labour market and the economy) can be obtained by providing the principle of equal opportunities for students and young people. In Hungary, the State ensures the acquisition of a maximum of two vocational qualifications for free, until acquiring the first qualification, in case of a second qualification for maximum three years. In addition to preparing for a complex vocational examination, the role of school-based vocational training is to prepare the students for a successful life and to educate them regarding their age-specific characteristics. 

It is possible to acquire basic qualifications in formal education system (technicum and vocational schools) on which further vocational qualifications can be built.

VET 4.0 strategy

The Vocational Education 4.0 – Mid-term Policy Strategy of the Vocational and Adult Education Renewal (Szakképzés 4.0. - A szakképzés és felnőttképzés megújításának középtávú szakmapolitikai stratégiája) focuses on creating an attractive learning environment, infrastructure, career opportunities and teachers with up-to-date knowledge. It is based on three pillars, the main elements of which include:

1. Career

  • a simple, transparent, interoperable training system;

  • a direct route from technicums to tertiary vocational education based on the results of a vocational examination;

  • scholarship system

2. Attractive environment

  • infrastructure, upgrading programme (building, equipment);

  • good quality, modern equipped sectoral basic training workshops;

  • digital content


3. Up-to-date teaching knowledge

  • accredited on-site training courses for trainers;

  • the involvement of engineers and business professionals in education;

  • more flexible engineering teacher and vocational teacher training;

  • development of small group catch-up methodology, preparation for mentoring;

  • developing a new certification system and career model based on the specificities of vocational education and training;

  • digital assistants.

In the review and revision in 2023, the following areas were highlighted:

  • development of basic competences (with a focus on reading comprehension and mathematics);

  • compensating disadvantages for learners and adults in training (special educational needs, disadvantage or multiple disadvantage, disability);

  • career guidance and counselling for learners and adults;

measures to help adults with low educational qualifications to enter the labour market and increase their level of training.

Higher Education

According to the Act on Higher Education (Act CCIV of 2011 on the National Higher Education (2011. évi CCIV. törvény a nemzeti felsőoktatásról)), the core activities of higher education are education, scientific research and artistic work. The higher education system encompasses tertiary vocational education, bachelor programmes, master programmes, doctoral training and post-graduate training. The educational tasks of tertiary education are provided only by higher education institutions. The aim of higher education institutions is to find, recognize and promote professional, scientific, artistic and sport activities for those who are capable of delivering superior, beyond the curriculum requirements performances, and for the disadvantaged or cumulative disadvantaged students.

"Shifting of Gears in Higher Education" higher education strategy 

The strategy aims to develop and operate a higher education system that is highly positioned in the international educational and research arena, responds swiftly to social challenges and is fundamental to the country's economic success. The key words of the higher education strategy: competition, quality, performance and success.

The strategy sets out the main objectives for action in higher education:

  • Organisational changes will enable institutions to respond more quickly and effectively to labour market needs.

  • The network of local higher education institutions should create opportunities for everyone to enter higher education.

  • Increase the number of students and graduates from disadvantaged areas, from disadvantaged families, from disabled and Roma backgrounds.

  • Increase the participation of women students in STEM studies.

  • Increase the number of STEM students and graduates.

  • Significantly reduce the drop-out rate.

  • Improve students' competences related to labour market needs.

  • Increase the overall percentage of higher education graduates by age group.

  • Increase the number of participants in international mobility programmes as a result of supportive processes.

  • Significantly improve the pedagogical and methodological competence of teachers.

  • Students obtain diplomas that are even more competitive and provide a more in-depth knowledge.

  • Increase the attractiveness of Hungarian higher education.

A healthy education structure should increase the institutions' capacity to provide training internationally and, at the same time, increase their own income from education.

Adult learning

Adult education outside the school system is regulated by the Adult Education Act and its implementing decree.

Strategic objectives in adult learning:

  • measuring the effectiveness of training through a career tracking system;

  • responding to labour market demand by renewing the labour market forecasting system;

  • reducing the administrative burdens;

  • increasing the number of participants in adult learning;

  • introducing new funding mechanisms (student loans, scholarships);

an outcome-driven adult learning system, the creation of accredited examination centres independent of the training providers.