A renewed Applied Economics bachelor program was launched at Corvinus in September 2020. What did the students experience after one year? What kind of changes were realised? What kind of career can the applicants of this program expect? We interviewed two first-year students, a newly graduated student, and also the program leader.
By Tünde Taxner
This year was not easy for freshmen students either. The Applied Economics bachelor program of Corvinus has approximately sixty students in the year that started in September, and although the students of the program know each other by name already, they could meet in person again only in early July, outside of the university, of course. By that time, the students had already completed the first project subject, a lot of group work, as well as courses in data analysis and statistics. The Applied Economics program was launched in a renewed form in September 2020, when Zita Penyige and Zsófia Fazekas started their university studies. They shared their experience about the program while chatting with a senior, whose name we changed as per his request. András is about to graduate from Corvinus, and he finished the program according to the concept before the transformation.
Practicality – Is this the way to train the economic analysts of the future?
All three students studied advanced mathematics in secondary school, and they have strong interest in economics. Zita and Zsófi finished the first year, so they do not have clear ideas of their career directions yet, but they are interested in data analysis. András thought that the pre-renewal program emphasised data analysis as well, but for years they had used a software for which there is no demand in the labour market. This did change during the renewal, Zita and Zsófi are already studying the R instead of the Gretl.
The program became more practical compared to how it was when András was a student, the best example for which is the project subject. For Zita and Zsófi, the thesis is made up of the results of three research projects by the end of the program. These studies are prepared by group work, which develops the presentation and cooperation skills as well. This year, the girls studied AirBnB, everybody worked on two research questions each, therefore there is little room for scrounging.
András considers this a significant improvement, since there were very few group tasks and presentations during his program. This was confirmed also by program leader Eszter Szabó-Bakos:
Unique eight-credit subjects
The eight-credit subjects are also more difficult proportionally to the credits, in the opinion of Zsófi, “it is actually true, that they require more effort and are more important”. They have to take this into consideration for their academic average and the Corvinus Scholarship. The credit value shows how much effort the subject requires in and in addition to the classes or in self-organising groups. In theory, one credit means 30 student working hours invested in the subject (one student working hour is 45 minutes).
In course of the distance learning, almost all classes were held for first-year students. “Video materials were made for the classes on theory, and we could rewatch these materials at any time, therefore studying was made easier. Meanwhile, in most of the practical classes the teachers tried to engage us, called us based on the roll-call list or we could gather extra points” – said Zsófi. In the opinion of Zita, most of their teachers did everything they could under such circumstances. András emphasised that the teachers adjusted to the distance learning swiftly, and he considers it especially useful that the lectures of certain subjects can be rewatched later as well.
According to the program leader, the first semester turned out successfully even despite the obstacles.
However, distance learning caused difficulties for the teachers as well.
The mandatory Applied Economics subjects are complemented by mandatory electives, which provide opportunity to select a specialisation. “It is good that Corvinus already offers career counselling, this could help in choosing the mandatory electives” – said András, who thinks that it would have been good if these subjects had been organised into groups, since at the beginning of the studies it is difficult to decide which subject is connected to which subject, and what you are interested in.
Social science and management courses are also available as electives. They had a new mandatory subject as well, in which students were introduced to the basics of social sciences. The girls said that whoever becomes interested in the area can register for electives within that topic as well. This follows the previous order, for example, this is how András became interested in behavioural economics and psychology, and he will continue his studies in a master program abroad.
In my opinion, the program provides a very strong foundation, which allows you to take several directions later – said András. He applied for multiple Western and Hungarian universities, and he thinks that the Bologna system is working, it provides interoperability, and considers the diploma to have international value in terms of further education.
But why is the masters program necessary? When I asked the students to what extent the program led them to be able to solve economic problems,
András gave this answer:
We had very good companionship, the pulling power was great, and my teachers were also inspiring; they are reputable professionals from whom I learned a lot. In hindsight I am very happy that I came here, I gained a comprehensive approach. I would almost say that everybody should a little economics, because it allows you to understand the world so well. It is not enough to start working as an analyst immediately, but it provides a very extensive basic knowledge. – said András.
“I have mixed feelings, but all in all, I have a positive opinion about the program – especially after this talk” – summarised Zsófi her experiences. This was not exactly what Zita expected, and she found the program relatively difficult, mainly due to the eight-credit subjects, but she thinks that the program suits her due to its Mathematics-analytics-focused nature. Eszter Szabó-Bakos emphasised that together with the program development committee and the faculty members they always discuss the experiences of the semester concerned, the education methodology solutions that worked and the ones that proved to be less useful. “Based on these kinds of discussions and feedback, the program development process can never end. There are always new things to learn, there is always something to develop or to do better than before” – said the program leader.