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  • World-class agriculture programme at the university

    A success area: the University of Debrecen is among the top 200 institutions in the fields of agriculture and forestry. Interview with István Komlósi, dean.
    Each year in the past ten years, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings has drawn up the list of the world’s top seven hundred universities, and related to this, for the fifth time they also prepared a ranking of higher education institutes according to disciplines. The ranking includes 894 higher education institutes of the total of 3,551 universities ranked. This year, the University of Debrecen was ranked in the top-200 tier in four areas: pharmacy and pharmacology, agriculture and forestry, linguistics, and medicine.

    “This means that we are known and we have a reputation around the world. At the same time, this is a confirmation by the outside world that we are going in the right direction, both on an institutional level and in scientific terms,” emphasized István Komlósi, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Environmental Management (FAFSEM), general director of the Centre of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Debrecen.
    Several criteria are taken into consideration when putting together the ranking. Almost 70 thousand people working in higher education are surveyed about their opinions concerning the given institute. This is the most important element of the ranking, accounting for 40 percent of the final score.
    “From this point of view, we consider personal contacts, communication between people, more important than a description that appears in an informative publication. Our faculty members and researchers, for example, use grant opportunities to visit only institutions regarded among the top one hundred institutions, so that we can learn from those who are better than us, which will ultimately also make us better known,” said the dean, who also added that FAFSEM participates in joint research programmes or grant applications in the area of agricultural sciences with several of the world’s best institutions. A close working relationship with the University of Wageningen, for example, started 30 years ago, with a new project to be launched soon.
    The opinion of employers offering jobs to new graduates of FAFSEM is also positive. The QS used its own questionnaire to ask employers about graduates of the Faculty, which accounted for 20 percent of the final score.
    “We are in a constant contact with these companies. We are always interested in their opinions, and try to adjust our programmes in accordance with their needs, so that our students can find jobs immediately after they graduate. An increasing number of businesses has indicated that they want to participate in our dual programmes,” Professor Komlósi mentioned.
    In compiling the ranking, the presence of FAFSEM in international academic database such as Scopus was also factored in at 10 percent. In addition, 5 percent of the score was based on the proportion of visiting professors and researchers relative to the university’s own teaching and research staff, and another 5 percent on the proportion of international students relative to Hungarians.
    “Over the past few years, we have placed much emphasis on our recruitment activities abroad. We have an increasing number of students arriving at the faculty from almost all parts of the world, coming especially for our food safety and environmental management agricultural engineer programmes. One purpose of the ranking is to help prospective students abroad in making their decisions on where to continue their studies. Of course, this is a decision based on value for money, but young people also consider the available housing conditions, safety, as well as the accessibility of the city. From this point of view, Debrecen’s geographical position is good, and if someone intends to pursue studies in the field of agricultural sciences, they will find our Faculty at the top of the QS list,” summarized István Komlósi.
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