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History of the University

Early History

The Eastern Commercial Academy isestablished
One of the direct precursors of ouruniversity used to be the Eastern Commercial Academy, established in 1899. Firstwholesalers from the capital city and elsewhere in Hungary, then industrialleaders as well as representatives of industrial and banking capital started tocall rather early (from around the 1850s) for the training of professionals asa key to developing industry and trade. The rapid growth of industry and tradenecessitated trained economists, moreover state administration required professionalsworking in foreign affairs and foreign trade. It followed that a specialcollege that would later become an economic faculty or a university needed tobe set up. In fact, the Eastern Commercial Course was launched in 1891 andevolved into the Eastern Commercial Academy in 1899, an autonomous state collegethat trained graduate professionals for service in foreign trade, targetedmostly at the Balkans.

Training is launched at the at the Economics Faculty of the Hungarian Royal University of Science
University-level education in Economics, just as inthe advanced counties of the world, was launched in 1920 at the EconomicsFaculty of the Hungarian Royal University of Science. A social movement tocreate an autonomous university of Economics enjoying the same rights as theother universities had started around the turn of the century and gainedincreased momentum until World War I. Due to political crises and the outbreak of the war, however, the issue didnot resurface before 1917. At the proposal of Director General Elemér Balogh,Hangya Szövetkezet (a huge producers’,distributors’ and consumers’ co-operative) offers a fund of one millioncrowns for the benefit of the future university of Economics. The Commission incharge of establishing the university invited Béla Erődi-Harrach Jr, one of the most recognised economists ofthe age, to write a study defining the tasks, orientation and educationalsystem of the University of Economy. The legislative proposal on establishingthe faculty, however, was only adopted by the National Assembly after the endof the war and the collapse of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. At the outset,four programmes were offered (General Economics, Agriculture, Trade andConsular/Diplomatic). The length of the studies was 8 semesters, concluded bythe last Rigorosum (a State examination). While students in PublicAdministration, Economics and Trade graduated as Economists, students inAgriculture graduated as Scientific Agriculturists.

The Faculty of Economics becomes integrated inthe Palatine Joseph University of Technology andEconomics
The first ever university integration ofHungary took place in 1934 when the Economics Faculty was integrated into thePalatine Joseph University of Technology and Economics. The survival of anautonomous entity had been repeatedly called into question from the end of the1920s. Following lengthy discussions it was decided that mainly due to savingsconsiderations, the entity would be merged into the University of Technology. CulturalMinister Bálint Hóman submitted the bill on the „organisation of the PalatineJoseph University of Technology and Economics” to the House of Representativeson 2 March 1934. The creation of the new university was in line with therestructuring of higher education in general. In the wake of the integration offour higher education institutions, a brand new „universitas” both in terms ofdimension and structure was born, covering the fields of Engineering, Economicsand Agriculture. The number of students showed a steady growth from the nextdecade on, with a relatively high proportion of students of worker and peasantorigin enrolled even prior to the world war.

Between 1945 and1990

The Karl Marx University of Economic Science isestablished
The events of the world war itself did notfundamentally affect the faculty, political events nevertheless brought aboutsignificant changes. Finally, the Hungarian University of Economics wasestablished by Act LVII of 1948, althoughthis also implied reorganisation along Marxist ideology. There was hardly anycontinuity between the new university and its predecessors: nearly allprofessors were dismissed, the departments were restructured, the courses andthe schedule were changed, training in public administration was discontinued.As for students, they were filtered through a highly political admissionprocedure. A change occurred in the university’s location, too. A decision toreconstruct the Chief Customs Palace, heavily damaged during the war, as auniversity was taken in 1948. The students could take possession of thebuilding in 1950. To mark the end of the transformation, in 1953 the universitywas renamed Karl Marx University ofEconomic Sciences. From 1955 to the end of the 1980s the universityoperated three faculties, namely the General Economics, the Industrial andTrade Faculties.

In the flurry of events of the 1956 Revolution
Owing to the ideological constraints of the Karl Marx University of Economic Sciencesas well as its academics’ and student’ close contacts with political life (ImreNagy Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Ministers who was later executedacted as an external lecturer, for instance), the university was receptive tochange. A number of persons took part in organising the funeral of László Rajk,a prelude to the Revolution. On 22 October 1956, the eve of the Revolution, anassembly attended by academics, students and even working class youngsters wasstaged.  As an outcome of lengthy, passionate discussions a 22-point listof policy demands was drafted that resembled similar documents adopted by otheruniversities. On 23 October courses were cancelled, everyone was caught in thefever of the imminent demonstration. The students of the university ofeconomics took part in an organised march to the Bem Statue: besides theHungarian tricolour, they were also waving red flags. Although on the followingday the university’s building was closed and teaching was suspended until 1February 1957, university citizens would come in to keep abreast ofdevelopments. The University Revolutionary Student Committee as well as theuniversity battalion were formed at the end of October. Even though thebuilding was spared by street fights, on 4 November the invading Soviet troopsfired shots at it, thereby killing one student.

Pioneer of the Eastern Bloc
The revolution did not end the hegemony of theState party, however within the existing strict limits, standards started torise slowly and a process of democratisation took off. One of the milestones inthis process was Kálmán Szabó’s election as Rector in 1968. Under hisleadership, a major reform plan was implemented: the structure of education andthe curriculum were modified, the number of compulsory classes was reducedwhile the proportion of autonomous tasks was increased; greater emphasis waslaid on seminars and small training groups. During this period, owing to theFord programmes, 16 academics took part in extended study visits to the US; infact the professional knowledge and pedagogical skills thus acquired wereinstrumental in implementing the reform.  The first College of Advanced studies in thecountry, the Rajk College was founded in 1970 under the leadership of Attila Chikán.Besides serving as a role model and inspiration for other colleges, it made avery important contribution to introducing state-of-the-art knowledge in Management,Economics and Social Sciences. The university carried out pioneering researchin the Eastern bloc in a number of disciplines (Economic History, Marketing andManagement sciences, Mathematical Economics, Finance, Business Economics).Students benefitted from a more up-to-date and ideologically less burdenededucation than at most of the universities in Socialist countries.
 
After the political changes

At the dawn of a new era
In 1990 in the wake of political changes theBudapest University of Economic Sciences welcomed students with an educationaloffer matching new expectations. The way had already been paved by the majoreducational reforms implemented in the 80s under Rector Csaba Csáki. Whereasstudents of the School of Economics could immerse in the various questions ofTheoretical Economics, those of the Business School acquired the businessskills that helped them cope on the market. As for the Faculty of SocialSciences, it became one of the major hubs of contemporary Hungarian socialscience. Most of the study programmes lasted for 10 semesters until the middleof the 2000s. The transition to the Bologna system meant that at present as arule undergraduate programmes span 6 to 7 semesters, and Master programmes 4semesters. The 7 doctoral schools of the university offer doctoral education inevery discipline otherwise covered.

Entering the international scene
The university did its best to benefit from theopportunities offered by the new historic situation. Over time, it builtexcellent relations with the main stakeholders of Hungarian economic andscientific life. This has led to the involvement of the best practising professionalsin education as well as an increased offer of internships, projects andresearch programmes to help advance students’ career. Thriving partnershipswere established with a number of West-European institutions, in fact theuniversity became a member of the CEMS Alliance of the leading business schoolsand companies of the world in 1996, an alliance that accepts only oneinstitution per country. In 2019 Corvinus launched a joint MBA study programmewith one of the top universities of Asia, the Fudan University of Shanghai.Students at Corvinus are among those making the most of international exchangesoffered by the Erasmus mobility programme.

Outstanding students, active student life
The bustling student life that had beencharacteristic of the university continued after 1990. Students can nowadayschoose among a plethora of activities offered by 7 advanced colleges and morethan 40 other student organisations. While some of these organisations focus ona certain field, others offer opportunities in networking and obtaininginternational experience. They also include community-based and charityorganisations. Owing to the study programmes, the international opportunitiesand the services of the student organisations, each year the most talentedstudents of the country apply to Corvinus. The proportion of foreign studentsis on the rise. The career prospects of the graduates of the university areexcellent, many of them are in key roles in economy, science and politics.

At the top of Hungarian and regional rankings
Thus, Corvinus occupies the top tier ofinternational rankings that have come to play an increasing role from 2000. In 2018the Figyelő magazine declared Corvinus to be the best university in Hungary,and its Business School the best faculty in the country. According to thelatest summary published by the HVG magazine, in terms of student excellencethe Corvinus Business School is the top business programme nationally, in termsof academic excellence the same is true of the School of Economics.  In rankings Corvinus features among the bestuniversities of Hungary and the region: In Eduniversal’s 2019 ranking, Corvinus Business School is the best business schoolin Eastern Europe, inaddition the Master in International Management offered in co-operation withCEMS was chosen the eighth such programme by the Financial Times BusinessSchool rankings.
 

Changes of name and organisation since 1990

1990: The name of the university was changedfrom Karl Marx University of Economic Sciences to University of EconomicSciences and Public Administration of Budapest.
2000: As a result of the integration of theUniversity of Economic Sciences of Budapest and the College of StateAdministration, the University of Economic Sciences and Public Administrationof Budapest was born. The institution operated the following faculties: College-levelFaculty of State Administration, Business School, School of Economics, Facultyof Social Sciences.
2003: The faculties of the Buda Campus of theSzent István University of Gödöllő (former University of Horticulture and FoodScience) also joined the university, thus increasing the number of faculties toseven (the Faculties of Food Science, Horticultural Science and LandscapeArchitecture were added to the existing four faculties).
2004: The integrated university was named CorvinusUniversity of Budapest.
2012: The Faculty of Public Administration(former College-level Faculty of State Administration) was merged into theNational University of Public Service
2016: As of 1 January 2016 the Faculty of FoodScience, the Faculty of Horticultural Science and the Faculty of LandscapeArchitecture became reintegrated into the Szent István University.
2019: As of July 2019 the operational model ofthe Corvinus University of Budapest was modified. The Hungarian State in itsrole as maintainer of the university was replaced by a State Foundation, the MaecenasUniversitatis Corvini. The role of the first President was taken by Anthony Radev.
 
 
Timeline

1899: The direct forerunner of Corvinus, the Eastern Commercial Academyis established
1917: At the proposal of Director General Elemér Balogh, HangyaSzövetkezet (Producers’, Distributors’and Consumers’ Co-operative) offers a fund of one million Hungarian crownsfor the benefit of the future university of Economics
1920: On 5th October, Act XXXI of 1920 on theestablishment of the Economics Faculty ofthe Hungarian Royal University of Science entersinto force. The first start-of-term ceremony takes place on 31 October.
1934: The Faculty of Economics becomes integrated into the Palatine Joseph University of Technology and Economics
1948: The autonomous Hungarian University of Economics is born
1950: The university moves to the former Chief Customs Palace located atFővám tér
1953: The University is renamed Karl Marx University of Economic Sciences
1956: An assembly is held with theparticipation of academics and students that adopts a 22-point list containingkey national policy demands. On 23 October students take part in a dignifiedmarch to the Bem Monument. Education is suspended until 1 February 1957.
1968: Kálmán Szabó becomes Rector andimplements a major reform with regard to the study programmes.
1970: The first of its sort in Hungary, theRajk László College of Advanced Studies is founded under the leadership ofAttila Chikán
1989: As an outcome of faculty restructuring,the Business School, the School of Economics and the Faculty of Social Sciencescomes into being.
1990: The university is renamed Budapest University of Economic Sciences
1996: The University joins the CEMS Alliance ofthe leading business schools and companies of the world.
2007: Building „C” at the corner of Közraktár andCzuczor Streets is inaugurated, the Campus on the Pest side now comprises threebuildings together with the Chief Customs Palace and the Salt House
2019: A joint MBA programme is set up with oneof the best universities of the world, the Fudan University of Shanghai

 
Sources:
Palánkai Tibor: Ötvenévesa Budapesti Közgazdaságtudományi Egyetem (Közgazdasági Szemle, XLV. Évfolyam, 1998. december)
Zsidi Vilmos: A Budapesti CorvinusEgyetem Pesti Campusának története – Kalauzaz Egyetemtörténeti kiállításhoz

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