Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Higher Education Reforms in Eastern Europe. a Hungarian-Romanian Case Study

Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Higher Education Reforms in Eastern Europe. a Hungarian-Romanian Case Study

Article excerpt

Abstract. The paper analyzes, comparatively, the Hungarian and Romanian higher education systems, based on four dimensions: history, structure and financing, internationalization, quality assurance. The perspective of the analysis is the integration of European ways to reform the university, pursued by the Bologna process, and the replacement of traditional, nation (or groups of nations) - specific models, with a unified, common market-driven model of education. While Hungary fell into the sphere of influence of the Humboldtian model, Romania was more inclined towards the Napoleonic model, although its period of flourishing was very short. The challenges that both countries have to face, as well as their strengths and weaknesses are reviewed in this analysis synthesizing the main features of the two systems, in the light of the European vision.

Keywords: higher education, Hungary, Romania, Bologna process.

1. Introduction

Comparative research in higher education is quite popular, recently, given the issues raised by the Bologna process, and the worldwide trend to classify institutions and systems of higher education. Kogan et al. (2006) have edited a book on Transforming Higher Education, taking a comparative perspective and reviewing the systemic reforms affecting, during 1970 and 1990, education in Northern Europe and in the UK. A recent study by Frølich et al. (2010) compares funding systems of higher education in Northern Europe and Portugal. Hemsley-Brown and Oplatka (2010) address market orientation of universities, in England and Israel. The matter of quality assurance in English and Czech universities is investigated by Mertova and Webster (2009), from the perspective of the academic staffin the two countries.

It may be inferred from the quoted references that comparative approaches to higher education, either holistic, or focusing on particular fields (market orientation, quality assurance) are usually narrow in scope - two or three countries comparisons, and target either similarities (countries belonging to the same cultural cluster), or dissimilarities - Northern vs. Southern Europe, Europe vs. Middle East. The first inference may be explained by the many country-specific differences in higher education systems, which may limit the relevance of large cross-country comparisons (Winterton, 2009). As far as the second inference is concerned, our approach will take the first option, of examining, comparatively, two systems supposed to be rather similar, the Hungarian and the Romanian systems of higher education.

In 2010, Sursock and Smidt published the latest TRENDS report, evaluating a decade of change in European higher education. The preamble of the report draws attention to the regional and community-dependent differences between higher education institutions, which have to be accounted for. Thus, the Bologna process puts forward the Europeanization, as "the regional version of internationalization or globalization" (Teichler, 2004, p.4). When asked to list the three most important reforms implemented in their country in the context of the Bologna process, Hungarian respondents (belonging to the National Rectors' Conference and to the HEIs) have made only one choice, that is, research policies. Neither funding and autonomy, nor quality assurance were mentioned. The so-called 'triple helix' of the universities and their partners in the public and private sector, and its effects on European research policies, may provide an argument for the choice made by Hungarian respondents. As far as the effects of the EHEA on their institution are concerned, for both Hungary and Romania, between 50 and 70% of the universities declare that they have been very positive.

The systems we analyze belong to the Eastern European cluster, have experienced post-communist transition and are recent members of the EU. This is why our assumption is that their educational systems and their challenges in managing the Bologna process are similar. …

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