The Fundamental Law of Hungary declares the freedom of conscience and religion, the freedom of expression, freedom of scientific research and teaching, the right of national minorities to preserve their cultural identity and to receive education in their mother tongues. It declares that all Hungarian citizens have the right to education, and the State guarantees this right to all of its citizens by providing free and compulsory basic education (ISCED 1+2), free and generally available upper-secondary education (ISCED 3) and higher education available to every person according to his or her abilities.
The government control in education and training is shared. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for general education, while the Ministry of Culture and Innovation is responsible for higher education. The Ministry of Interior has an integrated portfolio, it is in charge of several sectors, such as education, health, social inclusion and the social sector. Professional and political management tasks related to each sector are carried out by state secretaries.
The Ministry of Culture and Innovation is responsible for the management of initial vocational and adult education and training. Professional and political management tasks are carried out by the deputy state secretary for vocational education in the State Secretariat for Innovation Higher Education. Vocational training providers related to the profiles of each sector are maintained by the relevant ministries. Therefore, agricultural trainings are managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, military cadet trainings by the Ministry of Defense, and police trainings by the Ministry of the Interior. The governance, organisation, maintenance and financing of education and training are set out in sectoral laws: the Act on Public Education (Act CXC of 2011), the Act on Higher Education (Act CCIV of 2011) and the Act on Vocational Training (Act CLXXXVII of 2011), the Act on Adult Training (Act LXXVII of 2013).
The Public Education Act of 2011 has created a high centralization of public education management, school maintenance and curricular regulation. Since 2013, the organization and the maintenance (from 2016, the operation as well) of post kindergarten primary and secondary education has been taken over from the 3200 local municipalities by a central school maintenance institute (Klebelsberg School Maintenance Centre) and the school districts operated by it. Based on the experience of the reform, decentralisation has also taken place: from the 2016/2017 school year, the district level maintenance centre of a school district (currently 60 units) is responsible for school maintenance. The Klebelsberg Centre, as the central body, continues to support the coordination of these centres. Kindergartens continue to be fully maintained by municipalities. However, in addition to state bodies, churches, economic entities, foundations, associations, municipalities of minorities or private individuals may also establish public education institutions. Children aged between 3 and 16 are obliged to take part in education.
Vocational Education and Training
The Act on Vocational Education and Training (2019) strengthened dual vocational education and training and practical training has gained more emphasis. From the 2016/2017 academic year, the training structure and curricular regulation have also changed considerably. The 4+1 year upper secondary vocational school and the 3+2 year vocational school were introduced. Successful completion of a 5-year vocational upper secondary educational programme ends with an upper secondary school leaving examination and a vocational qualification. In the vocational school, after 3 years of vocational education, the student could decide to participate in a 2-year training for receiving an upper secondary school leaving certificate with the recognition of his/her professional qualification.
A new concept has been prepared for the complete transformation of vocational education and training, of which the regulation entered into force on 1 January 2020.
The Act on the Vocational Education and Training (LXXX. of 2019), substantially reformed the Hungarian VET system.
Vocational schools and specialised vocational schools for skills development prepare pupils with special educational needs who are unable to progress with other pupils, or with moderate intellectual disabilities, for vocational examinations and provide them with the skills they need to enter the labour market and start life.
The vocational education ended with the issuance of a certificate of a state-accredited vocational qualification contained in the National Qualifications Register till 1 September 2020. From 2020, the National Qualifications Register was replaced by the Register of Vocational Occupations.
Vocational qualifications – included in the Register of Vocational Occupations - the so-called core professions, are only be available in the formal education system.
The transformation of the vocational education and training system has also brought positive changes for adults who want to learn. Under the new system, adults can learn a profession in a shorter period of time, taking into account their previous qualifications and prior practical knowledge.
Only the upper-secondary school leaving examination certificate entitles the holder to enter into higher education.
Regarding the maintenance of vocational education and training, the provisions of 2015 have not changed significantly in the new regulation. 46 VET Centres are responsible for the organisation and direct professional coordination of the vocational education and training institutions maintained by the state.
VET Centres are budgetary entities which are professionally operating independently.
As independent budgetary entities, they have separate appropriations and commitments, and therefore, in the new maintainer structure, they have been given a significantly greater economic space than the previous ones. This primarily promotes the day-to-day operation and more flexible implementation of development investments. VET Centres provide their vocational training tasks within their member institutions - which are providing vocational school education. The VET Centres may perform dormitory tasks as well as non-public education activities related to education and training. They can also participate in state-funded, non-formal adult training..
The maintainer of VET Centres (Ministry of Culture and Innovation) is responsible for developing strategic issues, prepare legislation on VET Centres, plan the budget for the Centres and prepare the appointment of the director-generals. Medium level maintenance rights related to the VET Centres are provided by the National Agency for Vocational Training and Adult Education .
The stable economic background of vocational education and training is ensured by the chancellery system introduced in March 2019 in vocational training centres. The main purpose of the new system was to create responsible, transparent and professional management of vocational training centres. The chancellors support the directors-general of the centres with a managerial approach and effectively ensure the quality of education in the institutions. With the introduction of the chancellery system, the state intends to guarantee the responsible, transparent and accountable management of public funds.
The objective of national higher education is to serve the common good by transferring a competitive knowledge, to ensure the intellectual and economic development of the nation, to provide transparent, competitive theoretical and practical training, to perform scientific basic and applied research, innovation, as well as to train the youth for education and research. Higher education is regulated by a sectoral act (Act on Higher Education, 2011), amended by government decrees on enforcement. These contain the major requirements and rules related to the operation of higher education.
Higher education institutions are independent and their independence principally covers their educational, scientific and research activities. Due to the organisational and steering rearrangement of higher education, an economical independence is also provided for the institutions. The government and the minister responsible for higher education play key roles in the sectoral governance of higher education, performing tasks of organisation, development and legal compliance control, as well as exercising the rights of maintaining state-owned higher education institutions.
Hungarian higher education institutions may be established independently or jointly with other license holders by the Hungarian state, national municipality of nationalities, ecclesiastical legal entities, business entities with a registered seat in Hungary, foundations, public foundations or organisations performing religious activities registered in Hungary, and in cases specified by the law, by other bodies which exercise the rights of founding and maintaining the private higher education institution operated by regular international support. The party exercising the rights of foundation also performs the tasks related to the maintenance of the higher education institution. The higher education institution is an organisation that has been established to perform higher education tasks specified in the Higher Education Act and has received state recognition from the National Assembly.. On behalf of the state, the rights of the maintainer are exercised by the Minister responsible for higher education.
The governing body of the higher education institution is the Senate. The Rector is the chairman of the Senate as well as the head of the higher education institution. In a state higher education institution, the institution is operated by the Chancellor, who is responsible for the economic, financial, controlling, internal audit, accounting, labour, legal, administrative, IT activities and asset management of the higher education institution.
Pursuant to the Act LXXVII of 2013 on Adult Education, the objective of adult training is “to make Hungarian inhabitants capable of meeting the challenges of economic, cultural and technological development; enter the world of work successfully; succeed in life and have an improved living quality from as a result of adult learning, it is necessary to have better organization in vocational, foreign language and state-supported training and improve the quality of the content and reinforce the supervision of implementation”.
The function of adult education and adult training in Hungary is basically dual. Adult education is used for school-based education of adults. If this activity is organised in public education institutions, it is regulated by the Act on Public Education (Act CXC of 2011). Education of adults in higher education is subject to the scope of the higher education act (Act CCIV of 2011). The term ‘adult training’, on the other hand, refers to the organisation of adult learning provided outside the school system, as defined in the Act on Adult Education (2013).
The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK), defined as a public body and entrusted with administrative powers, plays an important role in the operation of the regulatory system of adult training, in accordance with the Act LXXVII of 2013. In some cases, the Chamber has exclusive decision-making competences in matters relating to the vocational training and education, so it can properly address its economical interests.
Act CXCII of 2017 introduced the concept of sectoral skills councils for adult education and training. The aim of the sectoral skills councils is to help the business organizations of different economical sectors to continue the development and modernization of the content structure of vocational education and training, and also to match labour market needs with the training offers.
The legislation and the development programmes of adult education and adult training were subject to the opinion of the National Vocational Education and Training Council, the advisory board of the Minister responsible of vocational and adult education and training. This Board made proposals to the legislation as well. The newly introduced Vocational Education and Training Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2020, entrusts this role to the Vocational Education and Training Innovation Council. The Vocational Education and Training Innovation Council, as a national body, by preparing, commenting on and proposing professional decisions, assists the Minister responsible for vocational training in carrying out his / her tasks related to vocational education and training.
The National Office of Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning (NOVETAL) is involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of adult training, the licensing and control over adult training institutions, the registration of the language programme requirements and tasks regarding the activities of adult education experts.