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Ede Petras: The College Network of the Hungarian Great Plain in Transition

Higher education beyond the university hubs of the Hungarian Great Plain forms the main issue of this study. The Great Plain is a geographical and socio-economic region of Hungary that provides an exquisite field for a case study due to the long tradition and relatively advanced state of its higher education network. In view of these regional factors, the findings of my analysis, though restricted to the Great Plain spatially, may be applicable to the entire discourse of Hungarian higher education. The present conditions and future options for Great Plain colleges are determined by various global, national and local factors, such as certain peculiarities of education networks and mental patterns that derive from the unique pattern of Great Plain urban development, the persistence of the model of colleges of applied sciences moulded in the socialist era, the great homogeneity of course offers and certain anomalies in the Hungarian implementation of ongoing higher education reform. On the strength of an historical and socio-political review of the Great Plain college network, I have delineated four possible scenarios of future institutional development. One of these options is formed by the preservation of some local peculiarities of the course offers in contrast to the homogenizing trends of the currently prevailing concept of higher education. However, the applicability of this model is restricted to a small number of colleges with a suitable profile and potential. The freeing of colleges into the university network constitutes the second scenario. Given the favourable British experiences of the 1990s, the clear tendency towards colleges becoming universities throughout the Great Plain may presumably lead to a rise in the professional standard of higher education in the medium term. The third scenario consists of a convergence towards vocational education according to the model of community colleges. Due to both a great demand for adult education and a current supportive stance in national educational policies in Hungary, close networks of vocational cooperation have been established by most colleges with neighbouring secondary institutions. At the same time, tertiary vocational education suffers from certain disadvantages in the Hungarian social environment, the most serious of which is the low prestige of vocational courses. The last scenario is postulated through long-distance cooperation between universities and colleges of a similar profile. This pattern of institutional development and cooperation is aimed at growth in student mobility, the enhancement of international relations and the expansion of the use of English as a language of instruction. Through the spontaneous establishment of such institutional networks, a model of cooperation that essentially matches the current trends and demands of the European Higher Education Area has emerged.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 110. Number 1. 73-89. (2010)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Petrás Ede, MTA Regionális Kutatások Központja, H–6000 Kecskemét, Rákóczi u. 3.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia