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“What we are celebrating today is thirty-year-old success story. This is the accomplishment of a few dedicated people and a very compact community, with professor Attila Jenei, director of the Coordinating Center for International Education, and László Mátyus, dean, leading them, since for a long time, the foreign-language programmes of the University of Debrecen was limited to medical education,” said Zoltán Szilvássy, rector, at the event held on 28 September.
As the rector recalled, higher education in Debrecen started nearly 500 years ago, in 1538. The language of instruction was initially Latin, and then with the rise of national languages, it became Hungarian, and it was only 30 years ago that the leadership of the university has decided to make the medical programme international by offering a programme also in English.
“This 30-year-old programme has the largest number of international students in the whole of Central Eastern Europe, from Danzig to the Aegean Sea. This year, approximately 5000 students from 107 countries chose to study at the University of Debrecen. In addition to the medical programme, we also have students in engineering, economics, chemistry and physics”, Zoltán Szilvássy emphasised.
Lajos Kósa, the recently appointed minister in charge of the development of cities of county rank, congratulated on the results of the institution:
“This achievement of the University of Debrecen, not only in the tuition-based medical programme but in English-language higher education in general, is a very respectful one. It is a huge accomplishment of the pioneers, as well as those following them, including the current staff, from the agents to the dean, that the university has been able to preserve its market-leading position over the course of 30 years. From among all Hungarian institutes, UD has the largest number of students studying in English-language programmes. If we also add foreign students studying in Hungarian, the total number is over 5000. This is the biggest community within the 23,000-member international student body studying in Hungary”, Kósa added.
The minister also said that it is a priority objective in the higher education strategy of the government to improve the competitiveness of Hungarian colleges and unviersities in the international higher education market, since knowledge is one of the best export items.
“The government has made and will continue to make several measures for this purpose. On the one hand, we plan to develop the infrastructural conditions of the institutions offering English-language programmes. On the other hand, we need to reinforce the areas on the basis of which students will choose us, ranging from public safety to the cultural openness of society, and also including, of course, high-quality education. Medical programmes are still leading the way, but it is a welcome development that other disciplines have also joined now. Half of the international students admitted to the University of Debrecen are in the medical programme, while the rest of them study a range of other disciplines,” said the minister.
He added that the recruitment model of the University of Debrecen is unique, since the agents recruiting the students receive their fees from the institution, while students pay directly to the institution, whereas in other systems, students pay to the organisations of agents.
On behalf of the first graduating class of 1993, Omer Hazza Mahmoud Hamad shared his thoughts:
“After graduation, I also participated in the recruitment of international students for the English-language programmes of the University of Debrecen. With the passage of time, it was great to see how the system of education, the curriculum, the preparedness of the teaching staff, the infrastructural conditions, buildings and dormitories all developed. The University of Debrecen has evoled into one of the best institutes offering English-language programmes not only in the region, but in the whole of Europe,” said Omer Hazza Mahmoud Hamad.
The words of Nelso Mandela, who said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” were quoted by Theo Theodorou, who spoke on behalf of the agents’ organisation:
“It is the responsibility of the teaching staff to offer suitable opportunities to students in any point of the world, since today’s generation is our future. Any educational leader will tell you that you must first understand the roles and responsibilities, and must become clear about what you need to achieve your objectives. The University of Debrecen has the perfect person for this purpose in Attila Jenei. Over the years, his team of the Coordinating Center for International Education has transformed itself from a small car into a limousine, which can perform its tasks easily and elegantly, but always efficiently and with great results”, said Theo Theodorou.
On the occasion of the anniversary, the Faculty of General Medicine gave several awards to those who did the most for the foreign-language programmes over the years. The list of the awardees recognised can be found in the attached document.