BME holds second virtual degree award ceremony for graduates of foreign-language courses
“We strongly hope that the person who walked through the door of our university some years ago now leaves with new knowledge and skills obtained, being much wiser and having many new friends,” János Józsa, BME’s rector said in the introduction to his speech at the degree award ceremony of the English-language courses, which was held online due to the COVID-19 restrictions and rules. Participants who were allowed to attend the ceremony in the assembly hall of the central building in person included senior officers from faculties and representatives of the graduate students while the other graduates, their families and friends were able to follow the event online.
The rector stressed that students were already required to demonstrate excellent performance in the admission process, which further improved in their years at the university. The graduates receiving their degrees in this semester, totalling nearly 111, came from a number of countries across the world and contributed culturally to Hungary and BME while guests of the country.
Video footage of the English-language degree award ceremony
“We are living in historic times: the pandemic is not over yet but I am positive that we will find a way to tackle these challenges, partly with the help of our knowledge,” said János Józsa, adding that adaptation to this extraordinary situation has already brought many learning experiences. Students became accustomed to this difficult situation and demonstrated their ability to cope by successfully passing their exams and obtaining a degree in their BSc and MSc programmes. János Józsa emphasized that graduates are welcome, and encouraged, to contact the university with any questions and queries they might have in their future careers. Finally, he asked fresh graduates to be advocates for Hungary in general and for BME in their profession when they return to their home country.
Members of the Academic Procession arriving to the tune of Gaudeamus Igitur: János Józsa, university professor, rector, Károly Veszprémi, university professor, vice-rector for education, László Dunai, university professor, dean (Faculty of Civil Engineering), Imre Norbert Orbulov, university professor, dean (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering), Ágnes Balogh Gyetvai, associate professor, vice-dean (Faculty of Architecture), Zoltán Hell, university professor, course director for English language courses (Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology), Eszter Udvary Gerhát, associate professor, course director for English language courses (Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics), Péter Mándoki, associate professor, dean (Faculty of Transportation Engineering and Vehicle Engineering), Imre Varga, associate professor, vice-dean (Faculty of Natural Sciences), Gyula Zilahy, university professor, vice-dean (Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences), László Gergely Vígh, university professor, director of the Directorate of Foreign Language Programmes. The master of the awards ceremony was once again György Ádám Horváth, assistant professor at the Department of Environmental Economics at BME’s Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
“We all love celebrations; we, in particular, because we see the results of our efforts, that is our graduates. It is a little sad that we cannot see you in person but this does not lessen our happiness,” said Károly Veszprémi, vice-rector for education in his welcome speech. As he said, celebrations are like sports events in these extraordinary times; it is not only the competitions themselves that we can follow only online but also the victory ceremonies. What is more, our fans, families and supporters can only be with us virtually.
“But the key difference in our case is that everybody is a winner: you are winners and we are winners too. A degree from BME is your VIP pass into the world of work. Your countries are winners too as with you they get qualified professionals. Your families are winners too; your parents are proud of you and you should thank them for their support. Your children, or your future children, will also benefit from your educational attainments; your qualifications and your degree will be the solid ground for your career and thus for you to start a family,” said the vice-rector adding that BME also benefits from its foreign graduates as they will represent the knowledge obtained at the university all over the world. Finally, he stressed that BME would love to welcome them back at any time in the future, either as a student or a professional partner.
On behalf of the mentoring team, Fruzsina Szabó bade farewell to the outgoing students. She reminded them how the exciting and sometimes stressful events of their first days would be remembered as important memories. “What really matters, what will never go away, are the human connections, our friendships and shared experiences,” she said expressing her hope that the university community, the mentoring team and the bustling life in Budapest was a source of many happy moments for the graduates.
One graduate said farewell in the name of each faculty and was then presented with their degree at the ceremony in the assembly hall of BME’s central building.
“As an engineer, I learned how to find an optimal solution, the balance between rigidity, flexibility and force. Whatever we learned here can be projected onto and applied in real life,” said Seyed Ala Ashrafi who said goodbye in the name of civil engineers. As he said, the unique circumstances arising out of the coronavirus pandemic created many challenges but also offered important lessons. Finally, he thanked his parents who watched the ceremony from three continents.
“I met students from different countries, cultures and with different backgrounds and we all worked hard to become great engineers in the future and serve our communities through our work,” said Satyam Shukla, graduate student in mechanical engineering. He thanked his teachers who encouraged him to be involved in scientific work as well and this is how he came to take part in the Marie Curie programme.
“If I could choose one word to describe my years here, it would be flexibility. Our journey was not free from challenges, starting with us having to move to a new country, then we had to learn how to say ‘Harminckettesek tere’ then we lost our way in the Hogwarts corridors of building ‘K’ but eventually successfully obtained a degree right in the middle of a global pandemic,” Aline Sattler said in her farewell speech in the name of architecture students. She added that this was not an ideal graduation ceremony but it truly reflected how young people have learned to adapt to new situations.
“Arriving in Budapest at the age of 17 was like a dream to me; I fell in love with the city,” recalled Jamila Ryazeva representing graduates in chemical engineering who started her studies in Hungary as a fee-paying student then went on to be supported under the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme. As she said, on the difficult journey to adulthood, she was supported not only by her family but also the university’s helpful community: teachers, mentors, supervisors but most of all by the international student coordinator, Valéria Balogh who treated her almost as her own daughter. For the graduate chemical engineer student, BME was not only the place where she learned new skills but also where she made new friends and the place that gave her a solid foundation for the road that will take her through life.
“BME taught many of us that we have to work hard until the very last moment at the university,” said Brenda Hernandez Belmontes on behalf of electrical engineering students. She added that the degree received at the ceremony was not only a source of pride but also a promise for the people who supported and stood up for them on their way to their degree. The new graduate extended her heartfelt thanks to her family, teachers, groupmates and friends who helped her in her hard work.
“The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship offers you the two essential components for potential success from the start: education and hope,” Belal Edries said in his speech representing transportation engineering students. He added that to combat the serious problems caused by the pandemic, we need courageous and proactive decisions such as the establishment of this scholarship that has so far allowed tens of thousands of people to obtain a degree. The fresh graduate feels very grateful for the supportive community he was surrounded by at BME and the approach he learned here that complex engineering problems are solved based on the values of teamwork.
The master of the award ceremony quoted the words of Stephen Hawking as a message for the graduates to take away. “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.
“This year, students had to cope and perform in the face of new circumstances, new challenges, decisions and possibilities due to the state of emergency caused by the pandemic, they had to study online in their last two semesters,” said Valéria Balogh, executive expert at the Directorate of Foreign Language Programmes who organised the degree award ceremony for the 23rd time this year. She added that engineering programmes indispensably require physical presence owing to the need for regular daily preparation, projects, design assignments and laboratory tests. They were able to find a way to complete these assignments together, under the supervision of instructors. Many students took on and successfully fulfilled these new requirements. However, there were students who wanted to follow the traditional way of graduation and postponed their final examination in order to finish their university studies in person at a later date in the conventional fashion.
The Budapest University of Technology and Economics offers 39 bachelor, master and PhD programmes for international students studying in Hungary. The first of these was launched in 1984 and BME currently has cooperation agreements for joint programmes with around 240 higher education institutions from 58 countries. Members of BME’s mentoring network, renowned for their excellent work throughout Hungary, help foreign students settle here and achieve good academic results.
Every year around 3,000 students from over 70 countries study in the various English-language bachelor, master or PhD part-time or full-time programmes. 111 graduates received their diplomas at the virtual graduation ceremony at the end of the 2020/2021 academic year. 35 of them graduated with distinction or an honourable mention for their excellence. 80% of the new graduates took part in the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme.
New graduates in this semester are from over 20 countries, most coming from China, Azerbaijan and Jordan but also from Algeria, Brazil, Britain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, France, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
In February 2021, 15 students received their diplomas from the Faculty of Civil Engineering while the number of diplomas awarded was 19 at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, 32 at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, 7 at the Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 16 at the Faculty of Architecture and 22 at the Faculty of Transportation Engineering and Vehicle Engineering.
Fee-paying students complete the same English-language courses as students in the Erasmus and Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programmes. The latter mostly arrive from the same countries as the fee-paying students.
Similarly to Hungarian students, education in the spring and autumn semesters of 2020 was offered to international students online by BME and consequently everyone could complete the semester they started earlier.
Photo: Ildikó Takács