On Higher Education Rankings in Hungary2011.02.21
One way of evaluating Hungarian higher education institutions is by looking at the place they take in different ranking lists. Institutions and faculties are ranked according to a wide variety of aspects and methods in these lists.
The HVG Diploma 2011 is the latest issue of a publication compiled each year of the ranking lists of higher education institutions. The ranking list published at the end of 2010 is a summary based on the work and experiences of former years, using the sophisticated methodology developed throughout these years; in fact, it is a collection of several rankings compiled by different aspects and based on a wider selection.
In line with foreign and domestic experiences, both student excellence and the quality of instructors are considered in the rankings, and professional standards as well as the standards of education, institutional services and labour market relations also play an important part. Four different lists were compiled on the basis of these aspects: an absolute institutional list, where higher education institutions are ranked; an absolute list of faculties containing a ranking of the faculties within the total educational offering; and a list of educational fields and a few program lists, that is, rankings of the faculties within the fields and by the programs.
The first place in the rank of institutions was taken by the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), where the excellence of both instructors and students exceeded the field. The second place was taken by the University of Szeged (SZTE); the faculties of the institution also achieved good places in the faculty ranking. The third place was taken by the Semmelweis University (SE). The top institutions of the list launched several foreign language Bachelor and Master programs in the 2010/2011 academic year.
The absolute faculty rankings were based on aggregated data. Faculty rankings unifying student and instructor quality data are only based on the databases of the Ministry of Education and the organisation dealing with higher education admissions. The best faculties include those of large universities with a long tradition, educating several thousand students. It is the faculties of humanities and medicine at state universities that achieve good results in the field. The Faculty of Humanities of the Eötvös Loránd University has headed the list for several years. Its good result is mainly due to its excellent student base. The second on the list is the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Szeged, which is followed by the Faculty of Medicine of the Semmelweis University. The latter also owes its third place mainly to its good position in the ranking by student excellence.
Among the ranking lists by fields of study, the faculty rankings of medical and health science education stand out. This is because an increasing number of foreign students study in this field each year. The reputation of medical education in Hungary has enjoyed a stable international prestige and popularity for years. On the other hand, different medical and health science programs have been popular among Hungarian as well as foreign students. The Faculty of Medicine of the Semmelweis University is followed in the ranking by two medical faculties in the countryside: that of the University of Szeged and that of the University of Pécs. An interesting fact is that the ranking based on employers' opinions also yielded the same results.
On the necessity of the ranking list
There is no doubt that students who wish to be informed about their opportunities need such publications and rankings, while research and professional dialogue has yielded rankings prepared with an increasingly sophisticated methodology and by higher standards. Research on rankings, their necessity and professional validity has been going on in Hungary for nearly ten years now, and has also explored issues of reliable methodologies and related questions. As a result of this professional dialogue, and in the light of the felt need of prospective students, parents and the general public, higher education rankings are by now undoubtedly justified, and their validity and impact is unquestionable. On the other hand, when compiling the lists, experts gain new experiences and complement the existing rankings with methodological adjustments, while analyses are also continuously done and professional discussions go on about making ranking lists.
Today, a ranking list is not only significant to prospective students and experts of educational research, but it also gives higher education institutions feedback and a picture of programs at other universities and colleges. While they use these lists for enriching their institutional policies, those who wish to continue their studies can use them as a basis for their decisions.
The best known among the works ranking Hungarian colleges and universities and the one that reaches the widest public is HVG Diploma, the earlier results of which are also accessible in English at www.felvi.hu.