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eLEARNING IN HUNGARY
Prof. Dr. Sarolta ZÁRDA, Rector
Dennis Gabor Applied University, HUNGARY
Prof. Dr. Géza BOGNÁR, Deputy Rector,
Dennis Gabor Applied University, HUNGARY
The restructuration of Hungarian legislation yielded to restructuring of
companies-ownership and to important changes in Hungarian higher
education in the early 90 years of the past century. Accordingly the higher
education market was liberalized. Due to technological development,
eLearning applications entered to the everyday practice of universities since
year 2000. For the time being mainly private-owned universities are using
the eLearning technology. This is the way by means of which more services
can be offered to students, accordingly it is expected that more candidates
will choose universities having eLearning facilities. This chapter discusses
development of the elearning in Hungary for the Millenium
Hungary was always famous of its educational system. Universities were
founded here in the early medieval. Even occidental structures were applied
due to the early transfer of ideas and human beings. There was always a need
for new technologies in this country. Based on the well founded evening
courses in the second half of the twentieth century, new distance-learning
was applied in the very beginning of years nineties. When the internet
penetration attained a sufficiently high level, Hungary turned towards the
Hungary was the first implementing this new technology in aiming to
provide higher education in IT in Hungarian language both inside the
country itself and in the neighboring countries where Hungarian ethnics are
living. That is the reason why we consider Hungary as the flagship of
eLearning in East and Central Europe.
Area 93.000 km2, population: 10 millions, ethnic groups: 95% Magyar, 2%
Roma, 3% other. It should be noted that some 3 millions Magyars are living
outside the country (the exact number of them is quite difficult to estimate),
mainly in the neighboring countries. Capital: Budapest. Climate: continental.
GDP per capita 15542 USD (2008).
A map of Hungary
The firs Magyar tribes settled in the Carpathian Basin with the leadership of
Árpád in 896. Hungary was recognized as Christian kingdom under Stephen
I. in December 1000. The country was subject to attacks of Mongol tribes in
the XIII.th century. However it could resist to it and maintain its
independence until the XVI.th century when it became the part of Ottoman
Empire for a period of 150 years. After four centuries of co-existence in
various forms with Habsburg Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy
defeated at the end of WW1 and lost 2/3rd
of its original territory and about
the half of its population. The WW2 defeat was followed by communist era
supported by occupying soviet troops. The power-loss of soviet empire
yielded to the liberation of East-European countries and the third Republic of
Hungary was declared in 1989. Hungary is currently a parliamentary
republic with free elections each four year. Hungary is the member of the
NATO and the EU as well, currently out of euro-zone. However the
introduction of euro is expected for the next decade.
The Hungarian education system is divided into two major fields: public
education (including elementary and secondary schools) and higher
education (including bachelor, master and doctorial levels). The visiting of
kindergarten is not obligatory excepted the year just before the elementary
school. The participation in public education is obligatory between ages 6-
Hungarian education system
Type of School
Secondary school or
10- or 12- or 14-
The vocational education is relatively new in Hungary; accordingly its
reputation is not so high as in other parts of Europe. From the vocational
schools there is a direct access with acknowledgement of 30% of obtained
credits to universities providing BSc courses.
History of distance Education and Legislation Background
Until the last decade of the twentieth century, the Hungarian education was
based on state owned education institutions. The political and economical
changes in the 89-90 years yielded to important changes in the legislation
system. First the Law on Assemblies then the Law on Companies founded
the legal background of the new capitalist era. Next to state owned
institutions an important upwind of private owned schools could be detected
due to the changes of Legislations on Educations1
in 1992 (Hungarian
Parliament, 1992). However; in respect of students’ numbers the private
sector is a small minority in the educations field even today11
Central Statistical Office, 2008). There is no special chapter of legislation
dealing with eLearning. Even distant-learning is weakly detailed in the
The reason is simple: Hungarian Accreditation Committee5
Accreditation Committee, 2009) is strongly dominated by highly ranked
staff members of traditional universities, who are more interested in
maintaining of the old system. That’s why a bad reputation of schools
dealing with distant and eLearning is encouraged informally between
representatives of educations field. In 1995 a modification6
Parliament, 1995) was adapted to the LHE governing the distant learning.
According to this new regulation only those schools are entitled to deal with
distant learning, which provide the same courses in normal teaching.
Private and state Owned Sectors in the Education
Due to the opening of the educations field for the private sector, this field
became a concurrence area for participants. The opposition may be observed
not between various private companies, but between state sector and private
sector. Private schools were largely authorized by Governmental
Accreditation Board since 1992, but the accreditation process seems to be
much more difficult for private companies than for state owned ones.
Sure that Hungarian higher education sector has too much participants (72
accredited Universities and Colleges for a population of 10 millions, in
2008) and it is time to reduce the number of schools. But the decision on
closing of some schools will be made by a committee dominated by the
state, that’s why private schools are anxious to be victims of competitor’s
Natural Evolution, Changes in Business and Social Environment
When communist era was finished on the turn of 80-90 years, it yielded to
immediate close of the soviet market, which represented more than 60% of
the Hungarian economy. The consequence was a terrible crisis with closing
industries, and ten thousands of loss of employment. Until that time the
unemployment was quasi unknown in Hungary.
In the early 90s years there was no adequate social protection system to deal
with the massive unemployment. It was the period of entering of the big
multinational companies to the Hungarian market.
Disappearing of old soviet type enterprises and arriving of new multinational
companies yielded to a completely new economy environment, which has its
social effects as well. In the same time an important number small and
medium size enterprises are entered to the market. No doubts, that a
considerable part of SME’s (according to non-confirmed estimations 60% of
them) are non-operational and even unable to operate, so they are forced to
close in a very short time.
The result of this phenomenon is the instability of the families’ social
background in hundred-thousands of cases. A very weak population, the new
proprietors is the beneficiary of the new system. Both of above social
categories has educational A considerable part of unemployed young people
tries to enter in the higher education, which is a temporary solution for them,
as not all of them deals with the usefulness of the studies, but looks for a
temporary social security. Unfortunately there are some schools, which are
targeting this hopeless population and supplying non-valuable knowledge,
with minimum investments.
Young people originated from well-to-do families can pay for any expensive
studies, even the most expensive ones quasi anywhere in the world. They
will have two important advantages: graduation at a university of high
reputation, having a good knowledge of a foreign language, which capacities
are highly respected at the labor market.
CHANGES AND DEVELOPMENTS
IN COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES
The 89-90 years which were the years of the political, economy and social
changes in East-Europe were the years of massive penetration of IT to
Hungary as well. The banks used IT even starting with the 70 years, but the
use of personal computers changed the economy at the end of 80s decade.
The internet appeared first in the governmental sector, such as big
universities and research institutes, but the penetration was very fast, see the
below diagram. Internet Access % (population of 14-70 ages)
Internet penetration in Hungary in 2007
Internet Acces % (population
of 14‐70 ages)
Source: (Median Market Research Institute, 2007)
In 2007 first semester some 43% of the total population had internet access
of various types (Median Market Research Institute, 2007) According to non
confirmed data, the authors estimate some 45% internet access rate today.
The IT revolution in Hungary took place in the same time as the
liberalization of the economy. In 1992 it could not be predicted that we
should say “ICT” instead of “IT” in a short decade the decade.
Communication aspect dominates the new technologies today. In the first
decade of 21st Century such easy communication technologies as Skype,
MSN an many other more professional ones are other widely used by
Hungarian population. The use of professional video conference systems is
TRANSITION FROM DISTANT EDUCATION TO ELEARNING
Traditional Distant Education
In the first year of founding private universities (1992) even those who were
engaged in the distant universities learning could organize their activity on
traditional support material such as printed books, VHS video cassettes. The
content of a distant learning package distributed at the beginning of each
semester at Dennis Gabor Applied University is presented on Figure 3.
Figure 3. Content of a distant learning package (DGAU). The old technology
used by DGAU was that of copied from the British Open University. All
Hungarian participants used almost the same technology that time. No
electronic components were applied in the early 90th years.
Content of a distant learning package (DGAU)
In the very beginning of the 2000 years data storage was transferred to CD
technology, which enabled course providers to distribute not only text, but
all multimedia components (audio, video, animation) on discs. In this time
DGAU as other schools produced multimedia applications to disseminate
easily the courses. These multimedia applications were extremely useful
when software use was dealt7
(Bognár, 2004). When the technology
development and the internet penetration attained the level of efficient use of
eLearning technology, the participants as DGAU also displayed a reserved
behavior: resisting introducing a full scale eLearning system, instead of it
use of so called “blended learning” system. It was due to timidity of
participants fearing of an immediate full scale change. An important factor
was the fear of teaching personnel to lose of their jobs. The result was
maintained of about one third of face to face courses and the remaining part
was transferred to eLearning courses. Teaching staff was satisfied as the
need for face to face lectures was declared, even in those cases when the
complete course could be provided by electronic facilities. This way the
cheaper operation of the e-system was missed.
Full eLearning Systems
From the providers part the Full scale eLearning system needs a good
learning content management system (LCMS) and a learning administration
system (LAS) preferably this latter integrated in the first one. From the
students part a good internet connection and good hardware is required. The
telephone or other audio contact may facilitate considerably the efficiency of
learning process. In Hungary the most popular LCMS are: Ilias, Moodle,
IntraLearn, iLearning, XXX While ILIAS and Moodle are used in education,
Intralearn and iLearning is used in corporate environment.
All system contain the following elements: content manager, test and exam
functions, forum, mailing system, sometimes agenda. DGAU has tried
various systems, free and not-free, and we found that there are no important
differences between LCMSs and consequently we opted for free software
named ILIAS originally developed at University of Cologne.
We developed the Hungarian adaptation of the software and we prepared
several new applications to it. In Hungary DGAU manages a network of
about 10 local universities which are using ILIAS. There is a dedicated
group of developers at DGAU who deals with operation and development of
the system. The same group manages a Hungarian forum for ILIAS users. In
October 2009 DGAU organizes an international conference of ILIAS users.
Use of LAS is prescribed by the Ministry of Education. There are two
authorized systems in Hungary: ETR and Neptun.
These systems are dealing with academic administration of students and
professors, overall data of schools and deal with some reduced financial
aspects as well. The integration of these two LAS into LCMS is not
completely solved until today. LAS should provide data for national-wide
statistical evaluation. At DGAU we use ILIAS system combined with ETR.
Both ILIAS and ETR are linked on the main page of
The Current Situation: Some facts about Hungarian higher education
In Hungary there are 72 authorized higher education institutions in 2009.
They are subject of regular control by the Hungarian Accreditation
Committee. Controls are organized each five years. A visiting committee
controls the documents prepared by the university in subject, and controls
the hardware facilities (buildings, laboratories included) as well as
competences of the teaching staff. The system of the higher education is in
conformity with the Bologna process, that is to say the following three levels
are existing: BSc, MSc, PhD.
The majority of institutions provide BSc level teaching. It is expected that
30% of BSc graduated students continues their studies at MSc level and even
a more strict selection is applied for PhD studies.
The general problem in Hungary that is before modification of LHE in 2004,
the structure of institutions was based on two type of schools: first provided
teaching over 3 years, with Hungarian designation so called “Foiskola”, very
difficult to translate it to any other languages, but the most adequate
translation is college, second provided teaching over five years, that is called
traditionally university. This latter has much more reputation among the
Hungarian population. With the new legislation the traditional universities
do the same as colleges, first they provide BSc level education. In this
respect there are no more differences between colleges and universities.
However after entering into power the new LHE in 2004, there are certain
colleges which satisfy the requirements of MSc education, and consequently
they represent a hard concurrence to traditional universities. While the
infrastructure of traditional universities was adapted to five years teaching a
considerable reduction in students number occurred, due to the fact that only
a small part of students wants to study over five years or more.
That’s why a surplus of personnel number and building capacities was
generated. Universities are interested in maintain of their highly skilled
personnel and in efficient use of their other infrastructure in spite of the fact
that Hungarian economy does not need the elevated number of MSc
graduated. The need is much more important for BSc level graduated people,
having good practical skills. This is very difficult to understand by people
engaged in the traditional higher education, over-dimensioned in human and
other infrastructure capacities.
The new participants, the newly founded (private) schools should face the
elitist aspects of the traditional higher education. They should prove the
same capacities in scientific research work and in education as the old
universities. It is not so easy, taking into consideration that all the
responsibility of running and administering the education should be carried
out without any governmental in 2009 some 94000 students entered in the
higher education in Hungary. About three quarters of them was accepted in
the state-financed sector and the rest will study by auto-financing. There is
no exact data, but it is expected that about the half of this latter students may
have an eLearning Access in the new academic year. It is quite disconcerting
that only 14000 candidates targeted the 21700 places in the MSc level
(Ministry of Education, 2009).
COEXISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL
EDUCATION AND eLEARNING
Even in the traditional state owned education the use of computer network
for data storage and communication purposes was used since the beginning
of networking in Hungary. Home-works, exam problems and support
material were stored on servers since 1992 at Technical University of
Budapest (TUB). In that time a distant learning center was founded at the
above university. We cannot consider the teaching activity of this center as
eLearning as the majority of support material was disseminated on paper at
that time. However the use of the network for storage purposes was more
and more frequent.
In interesting phenomenon occurred this time: independently from university
administration students started to organize data exchange on external
servers, sometimes with illegal purposes and methods. Without global
university policy on IT use data security and respect of personal rights was a
very hard problem this time. The need for professional LCMS and LAS was
more and more flagrant. Some departments at TUB created their own
teaching material (Budapest University of Technology, 2009) without any
harmonization of other component of TUB. Only fragments of eLearning
systems are used in traditional state owned universities. It can be concluded
that traditional universities are not interested in use of professional elearning
The situation is completely different with private universities as their
organization is much more coast-sensitive than that of the state owned
sector. Investment in higher education seemed to be profitable in the early
90s years and it is sure even today, but within a more difficult environment
(reduction of students number, more concurrence on the market).
Investors early recognized the coast reduction possibilities in eLearning.
That’s why in the early 2000s they considered the eLearning as a miracle in
aiming to reduce the coast of teaching. Not only investors, but eLearning
specialists considered this time that eLearning may basically reduce the
coasts of teaching.
Today we see it clear that to run and exploit a good eLearning system means
no considerable cost-reduction for the university. A proper analysis of
learning costs by is given by authors8
(Varga and Pálosi, 2009).
Vision of the Future
General Expectations Related To Higher Education
A massive diminution of nativity is observed in Hungary in the past decade.
It is expected that in ten years the number of students in lower education will
be the same as the number in HE today.
Expectations that the ratio of student’s number in lower education and in
HE, the absolute number of students will be about the half of the current
number. It is sad for the Hungarian economy, and it is sad for the higher
It is expected also, that the number of students who work simultaneously
with their studies will increase considerably. As the future students want to
obtain a usable diploma within a shortest delay the popularity of MSc type
diplomas is expected to decrease, the majority of students will be satisfied by
a BSc level diploma.
eLearning Related Expectations
The above decrease of student’s number yields to a pitched battle for the
new students between the schools. Factors which are influencing the student
choice are: acknowledgment of the university, the tuition fee (if applicable),
geographical access, services offered by university.
The two latest factors become more important for students who have a job
while studying. That’s why universities offering eLearning courses might
have a little advance in collecting new candidates. Essentially private-owned
universities are those, which are offering eLearning courses as they are more
flexible than state-owned ones. Consequently the influence and
acknowledgement of private-owned universities will
Bognár, G. (2004). Easy Modeling with Cadkey-Workshop, Multimedia CD,
Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Department of Fluid
Mechanics. (2009). retrieved on 21.11.2009. http://www.ara.bme.hu/english
Dennis Gabor Applied University homepage. (2009). retrieved on
Hungarian Accreditation Committee, (2009) retrieved on 22.11.2009.
Hungarian Central Statistical Office. (2009). retrieved on 11.11.2009.
Median Market Research Institute, (2007) retrieved on 2.12.2009.
Hungarian Parliament: Law on Assembly. (1989). retrieved on 1.11.2009.
Hungarian Parliament: Law on Companies. (1989). retrieved on 12.11.2009.
Hungarian Parliament: Law on Higher Education. (1993). retrieved on
Ministry of Education homepage. (2009). retrieved on 21.11.2009.
Varga, P, (2009). Modern Economic Approach to E-ducation, EDEN Annual
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
DGAU …………………Dennis Gabor Applied University
HE ..................................Higher Education
IT ....................................Information Technology
ICT .................................Information and Communication Technology
LAS ................................Learning Administration System
LCMS .............................Learning Content Management System
LHE ................................Law on Higher Education
MAB ...............................Hungarian Accreditation Committee
SME ................................Small and Medium Enterprise
BME ...............................Budapest University of Technology and Economics
BIODATA and CONTACT ADDRESSES of AUTHORS
Prof. Dr. Sarolta ZÁRDA, Dennis Gabor Applied University HUNGARY
Sarolta ZÁRDA is rector of DGAUBudapest, Hungary
and professor of economics. She was graduated in
economics at Budapest Economic University in 1974,
PhD in Business and management at Hungarian Academy
of Sciences in 1996. She was the relevant founder of the
first Hungarian private distance education higher institute,
DGAU in 1992. She was member of EDENExecutive
Committee 1997-2003 and Editorial Board of European Journal of Open and
Distance Learning 2002-2006, which is an on-line journal on distance
education. She was more than 30 publication is the field of Distance
Education. She was the coordinator in SOCRATES MINERVA ODL Project
(56591-CP-1-98-HU-ODL) “Improving Quality Assurance of Open and
Distance Learning” and in SOCRATES MINERVA ODL Programme
(88062-CP-1-2000-1-HU-MINERVA) “How to build up European ODL
Networks?” The EDEN Executive Committee was awarding her the title of
EDEN Fellow in 2007. Hobby: Skiing, yoga.
Dr. Sarolta ZÁRDA
Rector, Dennis Gabor Applied University
1119 Budapest, Mérnök u. 39. HUNGARY
Tel: +36-1-203-0279, Fax: +36-1-883-3636
Prof. Dr Géza BOGNÁR, Dennis Gabor Applied University HUNGARY
Géza BOGNÁR is deputy rector of Dennis Gabor Applied
University (Hungary), professor of 3D modeling. He also
holds lectures at French Language Division of Budapest
University of Technology and Economics (BME). He was
graduated in mechanical engineering at BME in 1974, PhD
in chemical engineering at Hungarian Academy of Sciences
in 1991. Visiting professor at University of Sciences and
Technology of Oran (Algeria) 1983-86, at INSA de Lyon
(France) 1992-93. Head of short cycle engineering courses at BME 1993-98.
Legislation expert in Law on Higher Educations 1996. Head of department
of IT Applications at DGAU 1999-2007. Deputy rector since 2007. Next to
his wide range publication activity in 3D modeling related topics he often
deals with distance and electronic learning topics as well. He used audio
conferencing facility first in distance learning in Hungary. User and
developer of ILIAS learning content management system. He is the author of
several educational CD-s and DVD-s dealing with 3D modeling used in
higher educations. He is deeply convinced in the future of electronic distance
learning. Hobby: sailing, aero-modeling. Latest publications are as follows:
Zárda, Bognár: Weak Points in E-learning Practice, EDEN Annual
Conference 2007. Naples; Bognár, Zárda: WEB2 Applications in Distance
Learnig, Day of Hungarian Science, 2008. Budapest; Zárda, Bognár: E-
competence Based Globalised Employment, EDEN Annual Conference
Dr Géza BOGNÁR
Deputy-rector Dennis Gabor Applied University
1119 Budapest, Mérnök u. 39. HUNGARY
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