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It is inspiring to see the return on the work you invested

2024-04-22 09:33:00

Plans are only as good as their implementation, says Lajos Szabó. We asked the Acting Rector about his achievements in his current position, about his experiences and his tasks for the remaining period.
Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

You have been the Acting Rector of the University since July of last year. Your mandate was to carry out specific tasks. How would you assess the results of this period?  

Last summer, as my primary task, the maintainer of the university ordered me to prepare, work out and finalise the priority academic projects that were essential for the strategic steps affecting the academic operation of the next period. These projects were developed within the deadlines, and their implementation has started. 

One of the most important results is that functional substrategies related to the new Institutional Development Plan – the education and research strategy and the concept of the talent management programme – have been worked out and now determine the directions and tasks for the forthcoming period. 

Let’s look at the educational area first. We have made significant progress in the implementation of a consciously built, constantly evolving and innovative programme portfolio, which is one of the pillars of our education strategy. With the restructuring of the social sciences bachelor study programme – following the programmes in economics -, we will finish a structural renewal process spanning several years. Instead of small, fragmented and extremely specialised bachelor study programmes, we are introducing comprehensive foundation programmes with a range of specialisation options, typically in English – and, where appropriate, in Hungarian – to support students’ orientation toward master programmes and the acquisition of competences that meet real market needs. 

A concept for the restructuring of the master portfolio has also been drawn up. We had to introduce a whole new philosophy here, because we found that we were unable to retain many of our excellent bachelor students, and a lot of them went to study abroad. Taking into account both demand-side requirements and international trends, we are developing a flexible and well-combinable system that offers internationally attractive one- and two-year specialised master programmes with an emphasis on the development of competences specific to the profession.  

We have also identified strategic steps to ensure the development of consciously planned learning and professional excellence pathways for students. We want students to see clearly what and why they are learning and what opportunities they have for self-development outside the classroom. This will help them to plan their future careers in a more conscious way. This will be supported by our Talent Management programme, too, which will provide students with opportunities to gain professional experience and develop various competences in a uniform and complex system, outside the regular timetable and by developing existing talent workshops. It is important that we extend this to international students, too. 

The implementation of our education strategy is based on an innovative and flexible learning and teaching ecosystem, which relies on our new, state-of-the-art teaching methodologies. Several of our renewed study programmes have already seen a number of our lecturers successfully applying these modern methods and techniques, and we expect them to pass on their experiences to other colleagues. The training programme developed by the Centre for Educational Quality Enhancement and Methodology will facilitate this knowledge sharing and joint learning in the context of the Corvinus Teaching Excellence framework. We would like all our lecturers to have a CTE assessment by this summer, so that they can see their strengths and the areas where they can further improve through training. 

The University’s research strategy has also been completed.  Over the past three years we have achieved significant results in top-notch international publications, so in the forthcoming period we can focus on improving quality rather than increasing quantity, so that the Q1/D1 qualification should be the standard, and not Q2, Q1. Our researchers encouraged us to introduce the CRE system, and we will continue to improve it, so that we could recognise excellent performances even better.  

We offer a complex support service for research, and enhance and provide additional resources for the Workflow system to enable our colleagues to attend major conferences and scientific events both abroad and at home.  

One of the key steps in the implementation of our research strategy will be the creation of a researcher competence map, which will be essential not only for seeing who is doing what, but also for providing a crucial knowledge base for finding international partners.  

We have made important progress in the field of international academic diplomacy, too: this year, the University joined the UniLion international network, and in the Horizon Europe Centre in Brussels, a liaison officer assists the representation of Corvinus in academic diplomacy. 

 

The development of the sub-strategies involved several months of intensive work, in which you took an active, personal role. How would you assess the preparation process? 

These were all areas of particular importance where we worked with the widest possible range of academic colleagues. The first concepts were also developed in workshops with large numbers of participants, and these were followed by numerous negotiations and discussions, not only in the professional committees, but also in forums open to the whole academic community. Our objective was to make sure that all the members of the academic community could see the drafts and share their views and suggestions with us, so that we could incorporate them into the materials. We gave some time to specialised committees to discuss the concepts several times, where it was necessary.  

I am particularly proud of the fact that the restructuring of the programme portfolio and the education, research and talent management concepts were all implemented with the unanimous support of the Senate. 

 

In parallel with the portfolio restructuring and strategy development work, what other academic projects have been carried out? 

The end of last year marked the end of the first cycle of the academic career model introduced three years ago. Based on the experiences of the first three years, we have created an improved and fine-tuned model for the next period, with a set of expectations that are even better aligned with Corvinus’ strategic goals and the individual professional competences and development paths of our colleagues.  

At the end of the cycle, we carried out the individual evaluations of the first three-year cycle and summarised the results. In January this year, this aggregated objective data formed the basis for colleagues’ individual career path choices for the new cycle, and also provided the basis for differentiated pay raises for academic staff. 

The opening of the new Gellért Campus is a real milestone in the life of Corvinus, which we have all been waiting for. From an academic point of view, the primary reason is that this truly 21st century, modern building provides flexible and creative teaching spaces that fit in with our modern educational methodology developments and talent management system. The real value of a building is the content we can fill it with. A key task for the academic area was to actively participate in the new campus project, as we had to choose the study programmes to be delivered in the new building very consciously. In addition to our two new study programmes, PPE and Data Science in Business, the Economic Analysis Master Programme, the Executive MBA and the International Project Management programmes definitely deserve this innovative, 21st century environment. 

 

What kind of tasks do you still have before the new Rector arrives? 

In fact, I could say that if we agreed to do something, we should start to do it. So far, the planning phase has taken place, and plans are only as good as their implementation. Therefore, together with the academic leadership, we planned in detail how to move forward and what tasks we need to carry out in the remaining period until the arrival of the new Rector. Some of the most important tasks are: 

  • completion of the renewal of the study programmes in the social sciences area, adoption of the curricula for the renewed bachelor programmes,  
  • development and adoption of the final curricula of at least 2 two-year and at least 6 one-year master study programmes,  
  • adoption of a concept for the teaching methodology programme, launching the trainings,  
  • alignment of the concept of the talent management programme with the curricula and Navigator, and implementing at least one pilot activity in each area of the programme, 
  • preparation of the research competence map, 
  • renewal of the Corvinus Professional Acculturation Program (C-PAP), which offers academic scholarships to support colleagues to gain experience abroad, 
  • definition of the role and the development of the university library through the creation of a library strategy. 

 

What have been your personal experiences as Acting Rector so far, and what are you proud of from this period? 

Since 2018, I have been involved in the University’s renewal process in various positions. I was honoured to be offered the Acting Rector position, and from the first moment I felt that it was a huge responsibility. It was a great pleasure to work with excellent colleagues during this period, and I have had many inspiring moments. These are the situations when we see the return on the work invested and on the increased performance expectations.  

Let me give you an update: we are halfway through this academic year’s performance cycle, but at the beginning of March we already know of 114 Q1 Corvinus publications, of which 46 are D1. Or, if we look at this year’s application for admissions figures, although the number of applicants to higher education has decreased by 5 percent on average compared to last year, and the popularity of bachelor study programmes in economics has dropped by about 15 percent, Corvinus has managed to further strengthen its position in being marked as first preference in several of its advertised study programmes. I also take great pride in watching our students’ successive international case competition wins.  

It is a joyful feeling when we have to decide on ten university professors’ applications at the same time in the Academic Tenure and Promotion Committee, and it is also uplifting to see a colleague who two years ago had almost given up on an academic career, now meeting the higher requirements for  associate professorship without a doubt. 

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GEN.:2024.05.28. - 03:31:35