President of the University of Economics: Corvinus will be the best economics university in the region
At Corvinus, we want to train the elite of the Hungarian and Central and Eastern European regions - Anthony Radev told Növekedés.hu. The President of the Corvinus University emphasised that there will be a number of developments in the near future: an innovation centre, a new dormitory and sports centre, increased wages for teachers, foreign lecturers and the launch of a regional student exchange programme through cooperation with Central and Eastern European universities. You have many international students, how do you screen for coronavirus at the university?
We follow the procedures prescribed for higher education institutions. Each student completed a risk assessment questionnaire compiled by the National Public Health Centre and several ministries requested its completion. In addition, we pay more attention to the providing of information and the cleaning of toilets and public spaces.
Application closes to the higher education institutions on 15 February. Why should those who wish to study economics choose Corvinus?
Because it is the best in the country, and this is confirmed by countless data.
Has this always been the case?
The University of Economics has never lost its leading role.
Why did the University of Economics have to become a private university if it has always been the best in economics training?
Because being the best in Hungary is not enough in the long run. It must also prove itself internationally. By internationally we currently mean in Central and Eastern Europe. At the moment, the universities of the region do not really have relationships with each other. If someone wants to go abroad to study, they have one of the Western universities in mind. The region does not see a lot of movement. By raising the standard of education and building Eastern European relations, we want to ensure that young people move not only towards the West, but also within the region. And Corvinus wants to be one of the driving forces of this, or its centre if you like.
Corvinus is truly chosen by the best, which can be seen based on the point limits. But it is the best who often choose to study abroad. Why stay home?
Because they will get a very high level of education at home. Programmes are being launched that are also attractive to those who want to pursue further studies at Western universities.
What programmes are these? What changes will the young person who spends the next three years at Corvinus experience?
We are renewing essentially all the programmes offered by the University. We start with the most crucial programmes, those with the most students and the greatest social impact. Let me give you an example: although there are only a few students on the economic analysis programme, the level of preparation of economists working in public administration, research institutes and banks is of paramount social importance. In turn, many hundreds of students attend the same year of other programmes, such as the business administration and management BSc programme, so the changes implemented here will be perceived by many.
What is the basis for changing the education? Did you conduct any surveys in this regard?
We take the opinions of employers into consideration. The ones that employ many graduates of Corvinus, so they have experience of what kind of ability and skill recent graduates lack that they could have already learned at university. But we also ask the opinions of our former students, who can also tell us what they feel they were lacking in their qualifications after their employment. These are important inputs. Today, it is no longer enough for a two-hour lecture to be followed by a two-hour seminar. This is an outdated attitude. We want short lectures and lots of practice. We want students to be able to try something in practice that they have learnt during a lecture, to test its effectiveness. We would like to involve more foreign and Hungarian external experts in the training as teachers. After all, they see things differently than theorists. We would like to implement a particularly varied and diverse education here at the University of Economics.
When will these changes be implemented?
Although our operation has been maintained by a foundation since 1 July, making us a private university in a legal sense, the sectoral rules of higher education still apply to us. For example, the new programmes needs to be accredited, and that takes time. There are things we also have to wait for.
Based on the feedback, what are most people missing from the programmes?
In general, they lack the development of their problem-solving ability, communication skills, and lack the continuous performance requirement from week to week. Our old students say they are not used to the constant workload, the pace of work, and this is a novelty for them in their workplace. The practice of enrolling in September, and then in December starting to think about how I am going to pass my exams, and in the meantime taking it easy, is outdated. We want fewer lectures and more practice. We would also place more emphasis on teamwork, with more communication and presentation required, more opportunities to solve problems and to try out methodologies.
How much uncertainty can the teaching staff expect from the planned transformation?
I haven’t met a single person here on campus who was uncertain. We are striving to make a better university and our teaching staff are cooperating in this. There are debates, of course, even passionate ones, but it’s completely natural and inspiring.
It was mentioned earlier that an Anglo-Saxon method would be introduced in the admission, taking into account other activities of the students, such as sports or community building, possibly the right motivation, what will be realised from this?
This is an ongoing thought process. What we want to change radically, is who we admit to a MSc programme. A plan for this is also being prepared. An essential requirement for the bachelor programme is a matriculation exam. We make our selection on the obtained points, we can't really consider anything else because we would not comply with the requirements of the central system. But we will try to refine and shape this process. Undoubtedly, we are chosen by the best students, this can be seen in our point limits as well. And why do they choose us? Because we have the best teachers in the country.
Of course, otherwise why would students come here. They don’t come because of our beautiful building. No. It is easier to implement a change with this teaching staff.
There are four critical points in the whole system, the emphasis in education must be on these: critical problem solving, creativity, communication, collaboration.
Is the teaching staff suitable for this?
Absolutely. Most of our teachers have seen a lot, they have been abroad, they are usually successful people, they are capable of development. If anyone needs to improve on something, they’re happy to do it, I haven’t experienced any resistance.
How would the education change?
An academic organisation is always matrix-like. It is made up of three main branches. We have the workshop, the department, the institute, the working group, whatever we want to call it. Then we have the education, and finally, the research. These three vectors appear in every organisation. In Corvinus, all branches used to be equal. They worked separately and on an equal footing.
It is now clearly stated that the pace is dictated by education that is the primary branch. We have three new deans who manage the bachelor programme, the master programme, and the postgraduate programme. The teachers responsible for the programme work under them, roughly seventy. They implement these requirements through all programmes and all subjects. In other words, we are switching to a completely new management and leadership model.
Will there be a change in many positions?
The three deans are new, and there are many positions that did not exist previously or at least not in this form. Opportunities are provided to many colleagues, for whom this is a new challenge.
How many students and teachers do you currently have?
We have about 9,500 full-time students and about 2,000 students on other programmes, and we have approximately five hundred teachers.
Is this a good ratio?
The globally accepted appropriate ratio is one teacher for every 15-20 students. We are not there yet, but we are not very far away.
Will the wages of the teachers change?
We are moving to a competitive system. We want the wages of teacher to correspond to market rates, which we will achieve within a few years. A lot of teachers also take jobs outside the university in order to make a living. We want them to earn what they need in their full-time jobs and not have to work elsewhere to supplement their earnings. We differentiate, we reward outstanding performance with outstanding wages. We started this process with the 2020 wage development, the basic principle of which is that the fragmented wage structure with many variables has become simpler and more predictable by including as many elements as possible in the base wage and rewarding individual achievements with a bonus system. We are also preparing for further developments steps in the coming years.
Previously, there was talk of wanting more foreign teachers.
There are already plenty of guest teachers. But we want to attract foreign teacher on a more permanent basis. For at least 3-4 years. We are thinking of two approaches, on the one hand we are looking for an ambitious young person who has already brought something to the table and is a particularly good teacher. On the other hand, we would welcome well-positioned teachers with a long and successful past, for whom Corvinus would be a new challenge. Conversations are already in progress with those who we have contacted, no one has shut us out as of yet.
What is the current ratio of foreign and Hungarian students?
15 percent of students come from abroad, we want to increase that to 25 percent. But in a different composition. Currently, most students come to us through international exchange programmes, many from developing countries. We will continue this tradition, but the plan is for at least 20 percent of that 25 percent, i.e. 20 percent of our students, to come from the region. From the V4 countries, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia. The mission of Corvinus is to educate and train the social and economic elite of Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe.
How many students come from this region currently?
One percent of students, and we wish to have twenty percent.
What universities do you want to cooperate with?
There are one or two private or traditional universities of economics in each country. I would like to establish mutual cooperation with them. Build a network in which these institutions exchange students with each other. This project is underway.
Are you planning any changes in tuition fees for Hungarian students?
Not to a radical degree.
What other developments are planned?
We plan significant infrastructural developments. To mention the most important of these, by the end of 2022 we will establish a new innovation centre on the Ménesi út Campus. In addition to the knowledge centre, a new dormitory and sports centre will also be established. A total of HUF 12 billion will be spent on this, the possibility of which is provided from government funding.
How much is the University of Economics currently budgeting from and is that enough for the planned developments?
If we want to improve the infrastructure, pay teachers and hire foreign lecturers, we would need roughly EUR 100 million annually. We currently have about EUR 50 million.
Where would get the difference?
We have ten years for that. We need to find donors.
Who is your biggest donor right now?
The MNB (National Bank of Hungary). The Central Bank is a strategic partner of Corvinus, it has an independent department, they bring in many excellent foreign guest lecturers, they give scholarships, they support the programmes and the development of the University of Economics in many forms. At present, they assist the operation of the University of Economics with HUF 600 million a year, and this is extremely important for us.
Where else are you trying to find strategic partners from?
We want to involve companies that employ the highest proportion of graduates from Corvinus. On the one hand, we want input from them on what knowledge they need, and on the other hand, lecturers so that young people get to know the practical requirements, and it would be good if they could also provide us with specific internship positions. We can create joint programmes in education and research that are good for both the company and the university. It can be a dual study programme, a joint laboratory, a project or innovation centre. We offer them a partnership. The goal is to make Corvinus the best university in the field of social sciences and economics in Central and Eastern Europe.