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Dreams Coming True with the Funding of Campus Hungary

2014. 10. 01.

Balassi Institute has provided Campus Hungary scholarship for some 8000 students to 90 countries of the world. BME with its 600 applicants is among the top three institutions regarding the number of students involved.


Within 18 months BME students took part in five selection phases; all students left Hungary before 31 August.

Dr. Péter Moson, vice-rector for international relations, BME Campus Hungary coordinator: Our students were very successful with their applications, 600 of them received scholarship grants. In the past academic year the amount of grant for BME students was between 300 and 400 million forints; it is about the same as Erasmus support. The speciality of Campus Hungary (CH) Programme comparing with the Erasmus scheme providing grants for 1-2 terms is that it accepts applications in various categories. The priority of international relations of the University of Technology and Economics is student exchange, therefore we actively supported our students in the Campus Hungary application process.

Károly Kopasz, Head of Campus Hungary Scholarship Board Office of Balassi Institute:
Campus Hungary Programme provides scholarship for all countries of the world for flexible time periods. Applicants can choose among 4 scholarship types: one-term courses, practical placement, short and group study tours. Such a flexible and wide-range scholarship system did not exist in Hungary before. The main issues worth highlighting is that applications have been accepted to all countries of the world (and to the convergence regions they are available until summer 2015), but in case of a defined professional area of interest Campus Hungary students can study and research not only at partner universities but in other institutions in case they are accepted. While Erasmus programme offers grants to only European countries on the basis of bilateral agreements in pre-defined study areas, Campus Hungary offers scholarship to all countries of the world without such institutional cooperation. A letter of invitation is required to be attached to the application, in which the receiving institution officially declares that they would accept the applicant for the given timeframe and they would certify the activities and studies completed during the placement period. It was the applicants’ responsibility to arrange the letter of invitation either on their own or with the support of their institutions; in case of BME the latter is quite common because the faculties have extended international network that students can rely on. Campus Hungary provides the scholarship amount according to the valid rates that refer to the given country and the given time period

Countries are listed in four categories: inexpensive, medium and expensive countries in Europe and countries outside Europe. (Editor’s note: later Erasmus also introduced this kind of categorisation as these days grant amounts are determined according to the destination countries.) When any registration fee or tuition fee is required in the course of the study tour a separate application has to be made.

This is definitely a success story. The University of Technology and Economics’ students have been very successful and the institution has also proven to be a very efficient partner. This has been a great start, I am really happy that our cooperation with the University has been beneficial.

If for example the manager of a Swedish car factory issued a letter of invitation and the student had a successful application for the Campus Hungary scholarship, they could immediately travel and join the programme. What was the success rate, what percentage of applications were supported in the Campus Hungary Programme?

Péter Moson: The programme was started in autumn 2012. In the first three rounds success rate among students of the University of Technology and Economics was 60-80% (Editor’s note: compared to the county’s average of 60-70%). In the 4th and 5th round fewer applications were supported because the EU funding was reduced; in that period 20-25% of BME students received the scholarship. (Editor’s note: The average for Hungary was 10-15% in the last two rounds.) In the first round about 70 applications were approved and 130 in the second round. The third round was during the last academic year, the deadline was last year’s summer and approximately 320 applications were funded. In the 4th and 5th round 40-40 students received scholarship. In Hungary altogether 7000 students were supported, 600 of which are or were BME students. The most popular destination countries are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the USA and the UK.

Viktor Eszterhai, coordinator at the International Scientific and Education Management Group of the Central Academic Office: CAO helped students in the application process when needed, when they had questions about the call or the application process. Another typical issue was that students thought that the letter of invitation can be arranged in a few days and the university would do it for them. Some of them just had an idea about the country where they wanted to go without any more specific plans. Our experience is that arranging a letter of invitation is a kind of maturity-test. It might have been easier for them if the institution had made all the arrangements on their behalf but it was much more efficient in many aspects when the student was able to organize their placement. The faculties of course gave all the support, in many cases professors contacted the host universities and paved the way for successful applications. Such cooperation was beneficial for the University as well because strong links could be formed with colleagues abroad. It was a huge opportunity for the students to be able to study outside Europe, in the USA for example.

Károly Kopasz, Head of Campus Hungary Scholarship Board Office of Balassi Institute:
At the beginning we were concerned that it would be difficult for the students to obtain the invitation letters and they would need the institution’s support. Eventually we found that they were able to cope with the task; some of them arranged letters of invitation to Universities that BME has no cooperation agreements with – like the University of Oxford, Harvard, Yale and many others. These young researchers are mostly PhD students or MSc students who cannot or do not want to spend a whole term in another country but they definitely need 1-2 months’ studies abroad for their research, the results of which they would be able analyze and use in their work in Hungary. We have to emphasize that BME has provided excellent institutional background because it has extended international relations and they were all available for the students in the Campus Hungary Programme. We made a survey among students to find out how they were able to obtain the invitation letters and more than half of them answered that the contact was made through a professor, researcher or other staff of the University – so we can say networking was very successful.

Péter Moson: A condition for students’ applications was approval from the University. BME did much more than that; we made our international contacts available for them. Besides Erasmus I would also mention the ATHENS programme, which is a network of 14 European universities of technology. Member institutions have been launching one-week courses twice a year for 20 years now, involving 2000-2500 students a year. Campus Hungary scholarship doubled the number of BME students participating in these courses. More than 50 of our students had the chance to join the programme in Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Delft, Warsaw, Prague or Trondheim for example. In such cases the letters of invitation were issued by the University of Technology of Economics. Such courses are otherwise organized by BME as well, the most frequently held programme has been the course of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, titled ‘Danube Bridges in Budapest’ hosted by the Dean, László Dunai.

The Central Academic Office also provided huge support; all the students were informed about all the application rounds by Neptune system messages and a specific website was also made for the programme.
Altogether we should mention that the majority of the students arranged their own letters of invitation and a smaller percentage of them had their letters of invitation provided or organized by the university.

What percent of student mobility was funded through the Campus Hungary Programme? What conclusions can be made now when the programme has been closed in the Central region?Péter Moson: About half of it. International scholarships, grants and exchange programmes are organized not only by the Central Academic Office but also by student organisations and the faculties so it is difficult to calculate the exact ratio. From the European project worth of 5.1 billion Forints 1.3 billion was allocated to this programme and its elements (education fairs, training courses, studies, etc.) and this amount has been fully spent. In the Convergence Region the programme is continued until next summer. Campus Hungary programme has been very important and valuable and we hope that it will be restarted at a later date. It would be very helpful for the students if their research and study plans were supported.

Receiving institutions at BME hosting more than 10 students
Babes-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, Departement of Hungarian Geographie 25
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology 28
City University London 19
Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava 19
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 19
University of Rijeka, Faculty of Civil Engineering 18
European Center for renewable Energy Güssing 15
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) 15
 Graz University of Technology - Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management 16
DVS - German Welding Society / iiw - International Institute of Welding 12
Austrian Chemical Society 10
UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education 10
University of Maribor 10
University of Wroclaw 10

-TJ -

Photos: Janos Philip