Hundreds of thousands of international students decide to study in Hungary every year for almost two decades now, with Hungary’s capital Budapest, famous for its high quality education system, fascinating history, and beautiful sight, being one of the most popular study abroad destinations worldwide. If you’re an international student relocating to study in Hungary, then read this guide first to know what to expect during your studies.
For the past twenty years, hundreds of thousands of international students have opted to study in Hungary and attended its leading universities. Hungary is especially popular for studies in the sciences – in particular in fields such as medicine and dentistry, which are held at semmelweis university at its campuses across Budapest, Debecen and Szeged, as well as in veterinary studies held in the szent istvan university.
The education offered for medical degrees considered of high quality by the WHO and directly transferable to any EU country. Many universities in Hungary also progressively propose these degrees and more in English or other foreign languages such as German to appeal more international students considering to study abroad. Some of the more common home countries of foreign students in Hungary are Germany, Israel, Norway, Iran, Turkey, China, Brazil, France and Canada.
The Hungarian higher education is split to a system of colleges and universities, where colleges are directly affiliated with a university and operate as college faculties of the university. Universities generally award both college and university level courses. In the old system, college level training lasts three to four years, where as a university degree takes at least four years to complete and at most 5 years with the exception of the six year long medical program. Further, university studies were split in three stages roughly corresponding to the bachelor, master and PhD courses but with longer study periods.
Starting in 2005 and 2006, Hungarian institutions of higher education have started the transformation toward the regulations of the Bologna system. In the new system, both colleges and universities may launch bachelor, master and PhD programs provided that the necessary requirements are fulfilled. This also means that all awarded degrees are equivalent and transferable throughout the EU and many other countries.
As in other countries, some qualifications will not be available at bachelor level, but instead start with the award of a master degree. Examples of such qualifications are: medical studies, veterinary science, pharmaceutical studies and architecture to name a few.
Degrees in Hungarian higher education reformed to conform to the international standard of the Bologna process. This means that apart from certain vocational degrees awarded by non-university and college institutions, degrees awarded will conform to the standard of bachelor, master and PhD degrees. This means that not only will degrees be more widely comparable on the international market, but it will also be more widely possible to pursue a master degree in a different field than your bachelor for example.
In certain more vocationally directed courses such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine to name a few, the first degree awarded is a master degree after five to six years of study depending on the field.
Hungary’s EU membership also means that its degrees awarded in medicine, veterinary studies and architecture are directly tranferrable and accepted for professional purposes to other EU countries.
The majority of foreign students in Budapest, Hungary arrive from the neighboring countries such as Romania, Slovakia and the Ukraine. Non neighboring countries which large numbers of international students in Hungary (mainly students of the medicine science at SOTE Budapest, and their various faculties) come from: Germany, Norway, Israel and Iran, which are represented in higher numbers at the full time programs in Hungary each year. In addition to the above mentioned full time programs, as Hungary is becoming a more and more popular study abroad destination, there are thousands of foreign students that study in Hungary in one of the various Erasmus programs, the nationalities of which include Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, Greek, Cypriot, Polish and starting 2010 an increase in students arriving from the UK.
A vast majority of foreign students who study in Hungary attend the full time academic programs. Medicine studies in SOTE Hungary is one of the most popular study choices, and large numbers of international students are also taking part in the dentistry, pharmaceutics and veterinary programs. The second most attractive Bachelor programs focus on various engineering diplomas.
The more popular higher education faculties are located in the bigger cities, as most foreign students in Hungary attend the highly respectable universities of Semmelweis – University of Medicine, and Corvinus University of Budapest. Apart from the capital city of Budapest, a large number of international students in Hungary is found in the main cities of Debrecen, Pécs and Szeged.
More documents may be required, depending on each school’s request.
For admission to a Hungarian university or college course you will need a high school diploma translated into Hungarian or English with the corresponding transcript of courses and grades. Some courses also require an entrance exam, which to the large international courses are offered all over the world. For an English speaking program, part of the entrance examination is often to test your English skills. Otherwise you may be asked to provide proof of these as well. For programs in other languages – German is quite common – there will be certain requirements for your German skills.
It is essential that you speak, read and write English well. You must have passed an English language test. IELTS and TOEFL are commonly accepted, but institutions may accept other tests as well, like Cambridge English.
The required scores are at least 550 (paper based) or 213 (internet based) for TOEFL. For IELTS a score of at least 6 is required
The Hungarian academic year runs with teaching from September to June with long holidays in July and August.
All foreign students, who are not citizens of the EU, and are planning to study in Hungary and to reside within its borders for a period of more than 90 days, are required to apply for a long term Student Visa in order to study in Hungary. This varies, so enquire in advance about the entry regulations which apply for your country! You can only apply for your visa from the Hungarian Consulate or Embassy that has jurisdiction in your state or country of permanent residence, prior to your departure. Processing of visas will take around one month. In order to receive a student visa, you must first have an offer from a Hungarian university.
Once you arrive in Hungary, you will need to apply for your residence permit within 15 days of arrival. This applies to both EU and non-EU citizens planning to stay in Hungary for longer than 90 days.
Compared with the rest of Western Europe, Hungary presents a very affordable place to study with regards to both tuition and living costs. Tuition fees vary depending on school and program. Often medicine and dentistry will be among the more expensive options with fees of up to 20,000 Euro and in some cases as low as 4,500 Euro for other programs.
In addition to tuition fees you will also be required to pay an application fee, exam fee and registration fee, all between 100 and 150 Euro.
Living costs in Hungary are comparatively low. They are naturally slightly higher in the bigger cities such as Budapest with rents starting at round 300 Euro per month. You should be able to get by with approximately 750 Euro per month allowing enough for not just rent but also public transport, health insurance, study materials etc and even allowing for a few nights out.
The vivid Nightlife in Budapest are famous worldwide. From the Szimpla kert with its unique atmosphere, throughout the friendly Morrisson’s dance bar to the huge high-end clubs like the white angel and Studio club, Budapest’s night life and student parties in Hungary are a constant rush! Just make sure you dont miss out on the special international students events, as these are famous for being the best parties in the city (and are part of the reasons many choose to study in Hungary…)
While studying in Hungary, you have several options when it comes to finding a flat to rent or even a room in a shared house. While some students in Hungary prefer to live at the dormitories, which are usually the cheapest alternative, most prefer to find a place by themselves which is located in the more central parts of the city.
If you are renting an apartment, you should also keep in mind that you may need up to two month’s worth of rent ready in cash when signing the contract to be used as a deposit. This amount should be returned to you when you move out of the apartment, pending the apartment was kept in good order and all due payments paid.