The Hungarian government will initiate an amendment of the act on higher education in order to allow for the appointment of chancellors in higher education institutions from September, Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog said at a June 16 press conference in Budapest.

The system of chancellors will affect the economic and financial management of these institutions, Mr. Balog said, adding that a balance must be found between the autonomy of universities and a cost-effective and responsible management. He said the system must ensure that these institutions, managing budgets of tens of billions of forints and employing thousands of people, work in an effective manner while maintaining high professional standards. Mr. Balog said that ultimate responsibility will still lie with the rectors, but operational decisions and supervision will be the chancellor’s purview, who will also be given employer rights. The employer rights, however, will remain with the rector with regard to teaching personnel.

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He said job applications will be open for a 15-day period and the appointed chancellors will have to work out the institutions’ new organisational and operational rules within 60 days. Chancellors will be appointed by the Prime Minister and their employers will be the institutions’ rectors, the Minister said, adding that application requirements have been “loosely” defined. He said universities will still have economic managers, who will report to the chancellor from now on. The amendment will also restore the previous system whereby candidates for the post of rector are elected by the senate, confirmed by the Minister and appointed by the President of the Republic.

A further amendment will bring the Pető Institute fully under state maintenance. He said the Institute is an internationally renowned Hungarian speciality, but is struggling with financial difficulties for various reasons. The government’s aim is to ensure the proper functioning of the institution, Mr. Balog said. Further amendments will allow the separation of the University of Physical Education from the parent Semmelweis University and that teachers working for pedagogical services are also granted additional vacation time. Mr. Balog said the amendments have been coordinated with the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference and the National Conference of Student Self-governments and that he would like Parliament to approve the amendments before the summer recess. The Minister said they are planning further amendments for the autumn concerning student self-governments, the classification of universities, colleges and community colleges, the future of colleges outside Budapest and better defined profiles in higher education.

(Ministry of Human Resources)