Focus on Water

The students of Japan’s prestigious higher education institution learnt about water-related issues at the Budapest Summer School organized by BME and the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference.

“There is a great deal of expertise accumulated at the various departments of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in the field of hydrographic sciences, so there was no debate that we should be the ones to host the water management course,” said János Józsa, rector, in his answer to He was also a speaker at the summer school entitled Go Global Hungary: Focus on Water, held between 9 and 22 August at the institution.

“The University of Tokyo is Japan’s most acknowledged higher education institution and the relationship between us, and that they can get to know our university, is very important,” added László Gergely Vígh (Editor note: Associate Professor of the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Structural Engineering, who was previously a student and then a PhD student for three years at another Japanese university.). The Tokyo higher education institution organizes summer traineeships and summer schools abroad in cooperation with partner institutions and organizations for their students, reported Laszló Vígh, in charge of BME’s international educational issues.

Hungary was also included in the new course called Global Studies  launched by the biggest Japanese university in 2015, added Júlia Morován,  program coordinator at the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference (HRC). She informed us that, within the framework of the event, groups of 15-20 students participate in a two-week long summer study visit in lesser known countries with rich culture where they can gain important professional experience and receive training (Editor note: many of the Japanese political, economic, cultural and scientific-technological managerial professionals studied at this university.). The students attend country-specific lessons, field trips, go to cultural events for which they receive credits, said the representative of HRC.

The Hungarian summer course was one of the outcomes of the discussions between the representatives of the University of Tokyo and the Embassy of Hungary in Tokyo, and it was realized with the help of Györgyi Juhász, Science and Technology Attaché of Tokyo, while the Hungarian coordination was undertaken by HRC. The last year was the first when the Budapest Business School hosted the Japanese students with the help of the selected Hungarian students and their mentors. This year it was BME that offered a contribution.

The summer school, which ended only a short while ago, was organized by Zoltán Dubéczi, Secretary General; Júlia Morován and Fanni Komlós representing HRC, and the 20 Japanese and 16 Hungarian students participating in the event under the supervision of Sakurai Jusuke, project leader, and Misato Nasukawa, assistant lecturer.

Several applicants wanted to take part in the programme, especially because of the water-related syllabus. For instance, one of them mentioned that in his hometown the huge snowfall generates a lot of costs and raises much concern, and they had not been able to make use of this large amount of snow effectively until now. Another student said she was planning to become a physician and wanted to work in Africa where the lack of clean and cheap water causes a lot of illnesses.

Some of the students only wanted to make foreign friends and get to know a distant country, which they had only known from the internet. One of them wanted to participate just to find out what young people think about Hungarian folk dance here in Japan as this student learnt folk dancing in Hungary, and practices it regularly at home, in Japan.

To help the students of the summer school, mentors applied mainly from BME and also from other educational institutions that already have some sort of relationship with Japan (e.g. Eötvös Loránd University, Szent István University, Budapest Business School and ELTE Radnóti Miklós Grammar School) The students of these institutions were also given the opportunity to deepen their interests in Japanese culture, and to improve their Japanese language knowledge.

The aim of the presentation – delivered by Tamás Krámer Associate Professor of Faculty of Civil Engineering (ÉMK), Department of Hydraulic and Water Resources Engineering and Rector János Józsa – was to take a fresh look at water-related disasters threatening Hungary such as floods, inland water, droughts, and human-caused water pollution disasters. Krámer highlighted that the participants were truly interested in the situation of a country with totally different features than theirs (Ediors note: Japan is a country with steep hills, it is situated on the border of tectonic plates, an island country within the way of tropical storms where natural disasters different from those in Hungary dominate.).

“On our plains the flood waves of the low-gradient rivers move down very slowly and would cover extensive areas without dikes. Inland waters also threaten our agriculture so river control, the regeneration of floodplains and dewatering involved and still involves huge efforts to these days. Besides, floods and pollution coming from other countries make the cooperation with neighbouring countries extremely important in order to prevent disasters,” said the researcher from BME.

Although the majority of the Japanese students and their Hungarian mentors are involved in social sciences programmes, several questions emerged concerning technological issues. For instance, they were interested to learn if the damaged buildings were replaced by ones more resistant to floods during the reconstructions in the areas affected by floods, or, if in the Hungarian flood risk management practice expressed the value of human life in monetary terms and compared it to economic risks.

Norbert Palanovics, Hungary’s Ambassador to Japan, gave a presentation at the summer school on the cooperation between Japan and Hungary concerning the issues of food and water. He also had a meeting with the Rector of BME and the Secretary-General of HRC about the participation of Japanese students in the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme, and about potential university courses to be launched in Japan in cooperation with Hungarian companies operating there. Among the plans of HRC there is the development of a summer training scheme that would make a bilateral visit possible so that Hungarian students could travel to Tokyo within the framework of a similar programme.

The issues of safe and affordable water supply, that is, Hungarian water resources, as well as major water quality problems and their effects were in the focus of Dóra Laky’s presentation. Under the guidance of associate professor of ÉMK Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering, students could gain basic knowledge in technological methods and acquire some practical skills by taking part in simple, locally manageable experiments using different filter materials.

Along with the daily presentations reflecting on challenges concerning water usage, water management and sustainability, topics closely related to water were also in the focus of attention, for example, transport, healthcare, sport, environment, recreation and tourism.

Apart from the presentations, the students prepared presentations aiming at the key role of water in the 21st century, visited the flood protection wall in Szentendre, the Budapest Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Gellért Thermal Bath and the Szemlő-hegyi Cave. In the context of culture and recreation, they participated in different thematic walks in the capital and they even made their way to Lake Balaton.


Photo source: MRK