Hungarian Education System

When searching BBC for news about Hungary, one of the most frequent words associated with this country has been education. This has also been one of the most interested topics among students. Therefore, this article will investigate the educational system in Hungary.

The last year of kindergarten (usually at the age of 5), primary school and secondary schools (usually until the age of 18) are compulsory and they are generally funded by the government. Primary education usually lasts for 8 years, then students will proceed to secondary education for another 4 years. This is nothing unusual – and its very similar to the British School System.

However, in terms of secondary schools, there are 3 types of schools from which students may choose from: high school, vocational secondary school and vocational school. The former one usually prepares students for higher education whilst the latter two relate to more specific skill teaching. Before the final year examination (Matura), there are a number of very unique and interesting activities for Hungarian students.

Firstly, these final-year students have to put a photo of themselves and their teachers on a wooden plate called Readiness Signs (érettségi Tablók), which will then be displaced in a shop window until they finish their exams. Balls are also held in February, generally in the sports arena, as the traditionally last hurrah before their exams. They are called Szalagavató bál (translated as ribbon consecration). But of course, it is just part of the Szalagavató. Before Szalagavató bál, school-leavers wearing suits come into school for a ceremony where the principles gives a speech. They are then given the ribbon by their form teachers. During Szalagavató bál, students have to wear more formal prom clothes and dance the waltz which they have practiced a lot previously. Afterwards the party usually continues with the march to fancy restaurants and later, different pubs or clubs.

In terms of Matura, it consists of 5 subjects: Hungarian grammar and literature, Maths, History, one foreign language and one of student’s own choice. There are also oral examinations. The results range from 5 (excellent, UK A LEVEL equivalent: AAA or AAB) to 1 (fail). If students pass their exams, they are awarded a secondary school leaving certificate. Higher Education is of course available; bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. The Bachelor degree usually takes around 3-4 years; the Master degree involves 1-2 years of study; and at least 3 years are required to be awarded a Doctoral degree. Each academic year has 2 semesters, with each semester consisting of 14-15 weeks of lectures and seminars. Examination period lasts for about 6 weeks. Tuition fees in Hungarian higher education are generally cheaper than in Western Europe, as are the living costs. The fees range from €4,500 to €20,000. Application fee, exam fee and registration fee are also required, each costs around €100-150. But for students from EU countries, they are usually eligible to apply to be ‘state-funded’ students, which means they are not required to pay tuition or registration fees. With vocational studies, 2 more years of professional training is required in order to be able to work.