Tag: Central and Eastern European HE

The Hungarian Parliament has passed the bill targeting Central European University

Many in the higher education research community have spent the last week following the situation that Central European University is facing in Hungary. In this post, one of Hedda graduates, dr Norbert Sabic who is currently working at CEU, comments on the development.

As brief background, the Central European University is graduate level university in Hungary, founded in 1991 by George Soros. The vision of the university has been to contribute to democratisation in the region, and it is now generally recognized as one of the leading institutions in Central and Eastern Europe when it comes to social sciences, with good results also at the European Research Council. The institution operates as a private institution that is accredited in the US and later also through the Hungarian accreditation system. It has about 1500 students from about 100 countries and its faculty comes from over 30 countries.

On March 28th, the Hungarian Minister of Human Resources who is also responsible for educational issues, Zoltán Balog, presented a new bill to the parliament that directly targets CEU and effecively would close it down due to the new requirements. A BBC article noted that this was an “attack on the CEU is the latest battle in a war against liberalism” that the current prime minister Viktor Orban has been fronting.

The situation with CEU has been covered world wide and has received major criticisms. The European University Association expressed that they were extremely shocked and deeply concerned over this development, and a large number of universities, university leaders, academic associaions, politicians and others have expressed their concerns.

To offer some insights on the recent developments, Dr Norbert Sabic from the Central European University has agreed to share a few brief comments. He is one of the graduates from the joint master programme in higher education (universities in Oslo, Tampere and Aveiro) and later did his PhD in political science at CEU on diversification policies in European higher education. He currently works as Strategic Planning Assistant at the same university. In the following, he shares his insights about the situation and possible ways forward.

Dr. Norbert Sabic (CEU)

For those not well acquainted with the Hungarian context, could you shed some light on the background of why this proposal was put on the table to start with?    

Well, you start with the most difficult question, and I am sure nobody could answer this one. The one thing we can do is speculate about the reasons. The official government argument is also continuously changing. They say there were irregularities in how CEU operated, which a report discovered (the report is publicly available but does not name which university did what, but generally described legal loopholes that foreign universities misuse). So the official argument is that they adopt this law to correct these loopholes. Now the interesting part is that the amendment to the law of HE is written in such a way, that it only affects CEU (hence the name lex CEU) and a couple of institutions which have only very few programs in Hungary. Since then the government didn’t provide any proof of CEU’s misconduct, and the Educational Authority confirmed (upon CEU’s request) that the programs realized by CEU were conducted lawfully.

Open access journal on education policy

CEPS The research centre CEPS (Centre for Education Policy Studies) at the University of  Ljubljana publishes an open-access peer-review journal on themes related to education.

The latest issue is a special issue focused on higher education studies, and includes six contributions examining themes related to reforms and developments in higher education in the Central and South-Eastern Europe.

You can download the full pdf version of the issue here (.pdf)

Call for Papers: Bologna and beyond

The conference titled “Bologna and Beyond. Experts, entrepreneurs, users and the internationalisation of Higher Education institutions” will be held 20-21 June 2013, in Strasbourg, Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme – Alsace (MISHA).

The conference is linked to the project “Rebuilding Academia. The Transformations of Central-East European Universities since 1989”, and the main themes of the conference are linked to the impact of various international and European processes on higher education in Central and Eastern Europe (including Germany), with a special focus on the Bologna Process. Papers will be expected on these four core themes:

  • Sociology of Bologna Process actors (experts, academics, etc.)
  • Analysis of international transfers of knowledge, tools, technical indicators, etc.
  • Direct and/or indirect impact of the Bologna Process on its academic “users” (students, academics, HEI technical staff)
  • Global effects of the Bologna Process on the CEE academic space (uniformisation vs. heterogeneity; consolidation of symbolic hierarchies, new power relations etc.).

Deadline for sending in abstracts: 15 December 2012

For abstract/paper guidelines and more information about the conference theme, you can download the call for papers here (.pdf).

Go8 European Fellowships – call for applications

The Group of Eight (Go8), a network of the eight large research universities in Australia, has announced a round of scholarships for young scholarships from selected countries in Europe.

The Fellowships are open to early career researchers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Russia and Croatia. Please note that both your country of residence and employment, and country of origin should be one of these countries (does not have to be the same country). You can read more about the eligibility requirements here.

Each fellow will receive benefits worth up to $20,000 to travel to Australia and work at selected Australian universities for up to 6 months.

A potential target destination for higher education researchers is the LH Martin Institute in University of Melbourne. The research conducted there is mainly focused on higher education management and leadership, including themes such as professional development, productivity, relationship between higher and vocational education, performance measurement, and strategic management.

Application deadline 19th of October 2012

More information on the scholarship website or download the brochure here.

EUA report on public funding and financial crisis in Europe

A bit over a week ago, EUA’s Public Funding Observatory published a new report examining the relationship between levels of public funding in Europe and the relationship to the financial crisis.

Public funding overview in Europe 2008-2012   (Source: EUA)

The report indicates that while the effects vary across Europe, the financial crisis has had widespread effects on higher education systems in Europe. In some cases these effects have been quite severe. The report prepared a basic map of Europe that divides countries into four main groups:  increase over 1% (green), stable funding situation (blue), decrease between 1-10% (orange) and decrease over 10% (red). In addition, a number of countries were treated as “special cases” (gray).

As quite visible from the map, the countries that have suffered the most from financial crisis (a number of Eastern European countries, and Southern Europe) are also the ones where there have been large cuts in public funding, with some exceptions.

The 11 countries that witnessed a cut over 10% include Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. A number of these countries are also on the forefront of the news in terms of a general economic situation.