Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.10Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures

Last update: 27 November 2023


Organisational Variation in state-run institutions

The transition between single structure school and secondary school is not so smooth for all the students. The following alternative structures provide opportunities for students who failed to apply to secondary education in order to acquire the missing basic, or partial competencies in the initial vocational education and training.

Orientation year, the introduction of the opportunity for a preparatory year to develop competences for those young people who are unsure about their career choice or finished basic school with a lack of competence. Its task is not to replicate basic school curricula, but to develop competences based on a previous assessment of competencies. The condition of entering a vocational school is that the student must possess the basic competencies which are essential for the acquisition of the profession.

Springboard Programme is an organized developmental year of the basic competences, which aims to provide an opportunity -for 16-25- year-olds with behavioural and learning difficulties, who are lagging behind in education, or have already dropped out from the system- to find the way to a successful life path, that leads back to the world of education or work.

In the School Workshop Programme, those young people can obtain partial qualification who would drop out and leave initial vocational education and training without qualification, or obtained a basic qualification in the Springboard programme, but unable to study in a classical school setting. In the school workshop, the learning takes place at the site of the practical training. In the school workshop, the achievement of the qualification is not tied to an academic year, but takes at least half a year. There are no general knowledge subjects. All knowledge is linked to the partial qualification that the student acquires from his/her master. The teacher supports the education as a mentor.

Most secondary education institutions in Hungary are state-run, but churches, business organizations, foundations, associations and individuals can also carry out educational activities.

The establishment of non-state schools is subject to the condition that the founders certify their authority to carry out such activities by obtaining licenses proving registration and lawful operation. The operating license is subject to the fulfilment of the prescribed financial and HR conditions and the availability of appropriate equipment, facilities and infrastructure. All of these criteria are similar in establishing publicly funded institutions.

Private institutions often provide educational services in exchange for tuition fee or training contributions, but it is also possible for a private school to have an agreement to participate in public education. In this case, the private school should also offer educational services free of charge.

In order to recognize the rights of ethnic minorities and to improve the knowledge of foreign languages, there are bilingual schools where all (or at least three) subjects are taught in foreign languages (English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish or Chinese).

The purpose of the nationality secondary schools is to preserve the languages and to strengthen the identity of ethnic minorities in Hungary. In such schools, education and learning is provided in the language of one of seven ethnic minorities in Hungary (such as Greek, Croatian, German, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, and Slovenian) for all or some of the subjects. The children whose mother tongue is Hungarian learn the above listed ones as foreign languages.

There is a small number of foreign-language upper secondary grammar schools and VET institutions, which are structured differently compared to Hungarian public education institutions. They operate according to the curriculum approved by the mother country's education committee (on the language of the mother country) and qualify as foreign schools. Their central task is to provide learning opportunities for the children of foreign employees who work in small and large businesses that have also a job-creating function in the region, where the curriculum is aligned with the training requirements of the foreign country. The certificates obtained by the students here are equivalent to those obtained in the home country. In their case, the school aims to ensure that children could continue their studies smoothly by return to their home country.

The legislation allows maintainers to operate so-called complex schools that operate several types of schools within a single institution (i.e. teaching at multiple ISCED levels): kindergarten, basic school, upper secondary general school, upper secondary vocational school, basic arts education. In these institutions, education is provided through a common pedagogical programme, supplemented by specific curricula for different types of schools and ISCED levels.

Cultural community centres are multi-purpose institutions that are organizationally and professionally independent. In addition to public education, the centres also carry out cultural, artistic, community, educational or sporting activities (Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education, § 20 (1) 5).

Secondary institutions with an alternative structure operate on the basis of a specific pedagogical concept, with a curriculum, a timetable and a specific assessment system adapted to the specific goals (talent development, disadvantage compensation, creating opportunities), for which they apply their own admission requirements.

Alternative schools provide teaching tasks using non-traditional pedagogical methods.

Schools based on an alternative pedagogical concept are very diverse and have the following characteristics in common.

  • Alternative schools are created, operated and run by individuals, groups, foundations, social institutions such as parents, educators, churches, etc.
  • Institutions are often responded to local needs. Such as the local initiative to educate young people with behavioural difficulties or the “preassure” of parents. However, in some cases schools are established to test new educational programmes.
  • The social composition of students is mixed, and some schools are consciously trying to do so.
  • Alternative schools are mainly basic and secondary institutions.
  • Because they do not meet the needs of the masses, they are usually small schools. Their main attraction is the individual treatment of students and the special attention of their educators.
  • In addition, in practice, there are many organizational and methodological elements that can be found in alternative schools. These include:
  • schools are theoretically complex, that is, they implement a pedagogical or psychological point of view, are founded by an expert, researcher, practitioner and educators organized around him/her;
  • develop their own curricula or special framework curricula;
  • the duration of training is different compared to traditional schools;
  • versatile skills development is emphasized, to this end a wide range of activities is offered to students;
  • the curriculum layout is different, it enables modular layout and project-oriented education;
  • there is also a difference in the timing of the teaching, either in an epoch-based system (continuous teaching of each subject in a 3-4-week cycle) or in a rhythmic weekly sequence;
  • prefers learning methods that support both individual and team work (project, cooperative learning, etc.);
  • personalized narrative assessment is preferred in assessing student performance (versus numeric).