The 2022/2023 academic year has been officially launched

The University of Debrecen is a great example for how a reformed structure that has undergone a model shift should work, stated Balázs Hankó, Deputy State Secretary for Higher Education, at the senate session held at the opening of the academic year at the University of Debrecen. Thousands of first-year students took their oaths at the opening ceremony on Sunday in Főnix Aréna.

“At the beginning of the new school year, it is our task to pass on to young people the belief and conviction that learning is more important than anything else and that higher education, scholarship and science constitute a unique value. Indeed, we must hang on to the timeless values that form the solid foundation of our culture. The university ideal, the traditions of higher education and the respect for academic activities and culture are among our most fundamental values,” said Tibor Szólláth, a member of the board of trustees of Count István Tisza Foundation for the University of Debrecen, responsible for maintaining and operating the institution, at the opening ceremony of the academic year at the University of Debrecen. He added that in the current, stormy period – when humanity is struggling with a pandemic, the world is on the edge of an economic crisis and a war has broken out in our immediate neighborhood – education is more important than anything else.

The head of the foundation emphasized that the University of Debrecen, as one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in Hungary, had always been nourished by traditions that are unique even in a European comparison.

“The University of Debrecen today is at least as important a regional factor as the famous Reformed College used to be in days of old. Thus, the tradition lives on and higher education in Debrecen thrives on solid foundations. Nowadays, there are students coming here from more than a hundred different countries of the world,” said Tibor Szólláth in his welcoming address.

Member of Parliament Lajos Kósa said: with the 485th year of higher education starting in Debrecen, there have been almost a million students altogether completing their studies here. Most of those who have graduated from UD would probably remember the time spent here as the most beautiful years of their lives.

“You are adults and free; you can make decisions about your own fate but, nevertheless, without constraints. This will no longer be true of your adult life later. I suggest that you should enjoy and appreciate this freedom, as Debrecen provides everything for this,” he said.

In his speech, Balázs Hankó, Deputy State Secretary for Higher Education at the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, recalled the ministry of Count Kuno Klebelsberg, as the golden age of Hungarian higher education. He underlined that it was then, in the middle of a global economic crisis, that the Main Building of the University of Debrecen was completed and inaugurated as the third largest construction investment in Hungary at that time.

“Hungary was closest to the vanguard of Europe and the world when it had a concept-based academic policy and it made investments in higher education. This is what encouraged us to initiate large-scale university developments that our country has not witnessed since the ministry of Kuno Klebelsberg, who took his office exactly a hundred years ago,” he said.

According to Balázs Hankó, just like it used to be in the period following the trauma caused by the Paris Peace Treaty, the reconstruction of higher education today is one of the pillars for strengthening of our nation. Accordingly, the financing of higher education has by now reached 2 percent of the GDP, which figure takes us the forefront of Europe, as we have never allocated so much for this purpose before.

He also mentioned that the Science and Innovation Park of the University of Debrecen could also count on assistance provided by the Hungarian state.

“There is a lot one can learn from Debrecen. The operation of the University of Debrecen is a good example of how a model-changed, renewed structure and ecosystem should work. The first results show that the development guidelines and directions are good, since we are moving forward in the international rankings. While two years ago, there were only 8 Hungarian universities listed in the world’s two higher education rankings, today there are 11 of these, and two-thirds of our students attend them. The University of Debrecen is at the top of both world rankings. In addition to the global rankings, UD also performs better year by year in the specialty rankings. In the 2022 US ranking, for example, this university is now represented by 7 specializations instead of the former 5, of which, for example, agricultural sciences are positioned at the very prestigious 200th place,” he said.

The Deputy State Secretary emphasized that the degree obtained at the University of Debrecen is also highly valued in the labor market because, today, a university graduate would almost immediately get a job and earn twice as much on average as someone without a degree.

“We are trying to ensure that at least one of our universities should be among the 100 best in the world and that three of our institutions should be ranked among the top 100 universities in the European Union by 2030. For this purpose, we intend to double the number of international students. At the same time, we will do our best to make sure that the proportion of Hungarian graduates should be the highest here among the V4 countries,” stated Balázs Hankó.

After the ceremonial swearing-in of the first-year students, the representatives of both the Hungarian and international students starting their studies received a symbolic gradebook for their university years from the respective deans of their university faculties on behalf of their fellow students.
Debrecen’s new citizens then were welcomed by Deputy Mayor Lajos Barcsa, who in his speech highlighted the close relationship between the University of Debrecen and the municipal government.

“The university’s training and research structure, educational and academic performance, as well as its innovation opportunities are tightly intertwined with the advantages offered by our city. The University of Debrecen is an exemplar for the entire Hungarian and also for the international higher education sector in the respect that it constantly monitors the needs of employers in the city of Debrecen and the region around it and adapts its educational offerings to their requirements,” said Lajos Barcsa.
He then detailed how Debrecen’s institutions, the local government and the private sector count significantly on the intellectual capital concentrated in the city, that is to say, both on students studying at the University of Debrecen and those who have already graduated from here. The fact that career starters here can easily find a job has been made possible by the almost 10 billion euros, i.e., 4 thousand billion HUF, invested in our city since 2014, thanks to which as many as 12 thousand new jobs were created. At the same time, the average gross salary in Debrecen is also increasing. Lajos Barcsa announced that the municipal government of Debrecen would soon launch a rental housing program, focusing on career starters, due to the high prices for sublet rents.
István Csont, President of the Student Government of the University of Debrecen, reminded us that, in 2020 and 2021, it had been the coronavirus, while this year, it was the war in Ukraine and the international energy crisis that would make our lives difficult.

“What has happened in schools around the world in recent years has made students grow up much faster than before. Due to COVID-19, millions of students around the world have been forced to the confines of distance learning instead of contact education in classrooms. It is not only necessary to adapt to new teaching techniques in such a situation, but it is imperative to learn differently,” he said.

At the ceremony, the management of the University of Debrecen congratulated students who had achieved outstanding international results in sports during the past period. Katinka Sugár Battai, a student majoring in recreation and lifestyle, who participated in the World Fencing Championship as a member of the women’s fencing team and won a gold medal, received due recognition. Sports economics student Bragato Giada won a bronze medal at the Kayak-Canoe World Championship and a gold and a silver medal at the European Championship. Luca Kozák, a finance and accounting major, won a silver medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the European Athletics Championships in Munich. Anna Gréta Olasz, a sports economics student, won a European and World Championship silver medal in open water swimming, and Petra Senánszky, a sports and recreation management major, won a gold medal in finswimming at the World Games.

In the framework of the special session of the Senate, university awards and titles were also presented by the leaders of the institution.

The Faculty of Economics of the University of Debrecen presented a Pro Meritis Interfacultatis award to Zoltán Póser, chief government advisor, in recognition of his outstanding work for the development of the faculty’s international relations.

The assembly of the Student Government of the University of Debrecen conferred the Pro Auditoribus Universitatis Debrecenensis Award to full professor and rector’s commissioner Ákos Pintér, for decades of outstanding professional and leadership activities in the interest of students.

Upon the recommendation of the Faculty of Arts, Lt. Gen. Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, Commander of the Hungarian Defense Forces, was awarded the honorary title of university professor in recognition of his high-quality work in taking care of national defense and military-related subjects and in nurturing long-term outstanding professional relationships.

The “Alumni Award” may be granted to organizations that maintain close academic and/or professional ties with the University of Debrecen, support the institution in achieving its goals, and keep a high profile of employing graduates from UD. Based on the unanimous decision of the university’s management, OTP Bank Nyrt. was awarded the “Alumni Award of the University of Debrecen” and the use of the title this year.

The Rector of the University of Debrecen, commemorating the 35th anniversary of the start of English-language programs, awarded the Pro Universitate Debreceniensi 2000 commemorative medal to József Seres, Deputy Director General of the National Directorate-General of Aliens Policing.

The Senate of the University of Debrecen presented a Pro Universitate award to Géza Búvár, a Széchenyi Awardee agricultural engineer and full professor of MÉK. The same award also went to Zsolt Harhai, Regional Director of the Northern Great Plains Regional Directorate of the National Directorate-General of Aliens Policing.

A third recipient of the Pro Universitate award was Miklós Lengyel, Deputy Secretary of State for the Hungarian Diplomatic Academy and the Stipendium Hungaricum Program.

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