About the country
Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Its capital is Budapest (and NOT Bucharest), its official language is, surprisingly, Hungarian. It is part of the EU and its population is around 10 million. The state was founded in 1000 as a kingdom, then it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the Second World War it was under Soviet dictatorship until 1989 when democracy was established. Hungary has the second biggest House of Parliament in Europe and if you are from the UK you should know which is the only one that beat it. 13 Nobel laureates were born in Hungary and a further 8 were Hungarian by origin. Hungarians discovered or invented, among many things, Vitamin C, the Rubik's cube, noiseless matches, the electric motor, the electric generator, the transformer, the Tungsten electric bulb, the ballpoint pen, the theory of the hydrogen bomb, the theory of nuclear chain reaction, the nuclear reactor, particle accelerator and the BASIC programming language.
Why study in Hungary?
Every foreign student has different reasons for coming to Hungary. Some want to return to their roots (many Hungarians fled the country both during WWII and the 1956 revolution and their descendants are now scattered all over the world) or learn the language but most come here because they could not enter their chosen degree program in their home country. This is especially true for medicine, since the admission procedure places more weight on the entry test than pre-existing qualifications and there is no interview. Some students are looking for cheaper tuition fees. Aside from courses like medicine, dentistry, vetmed, pharmacy, etc. you get the idea, the tuition fees are quite moderate, especially compared to those in the US or Canada.
Is Hungary the right place for you?
Try to visit but if that is not possible, try to research as much as possible. Something to think about is getting your degree recognized. If you are an EU citizen your degree will be recognized all over the EU without any licensing. If this does not apply to you then you might want to consider doing your degree in the country where you will want to work. It is possible to get your degree recognised outside the EU but you will probably need to sit a test of some sort.
Choosing a course
There are lots of courses offered in English and some offered in German or French. For a current list of courses, click here. For other up-to-date information, contact the universities you are considering. The most popular courses amon foreign students are Medicine, Veterinary Science, Engineering and various branches of Business and Economics but there are some less traditional courses as well, such as Coaching and Studio Art.
Choosing a city
Most of the English language course are offered in one of the four major university cities. These are:
The capital city and the only city which is similar to some big Western cities. It has around 2 million residents. The public transport is good and very cheap (student pass for a month is about £10) albeit not famous for being clean. It has everything a big city is ought to have. International airport, railway stations, more than a dozen of shopping malls, many restaurants, pubs, clubs, libraries and sport facilities. The river Danube flows through the city. Budapest is a buzzing city and if you are looking for the real "big city life" experience then it is definitely your best choice as the other places feel more like university towns than a big city.
Debrecen is the second largest city in Hungary after Budapest, in the west of the country. The inner city is dominated by the university. There is a small airport, a railway station, two shopping malls and world-class sport facilities. There are many clubs, pubs, discos etc., as in every university town. Most of the city is made up of the residential area on the outskirts. It does not have the feeling of a big city but the sheer number of students during term time boosts up the nightlife.
The fifth largest city of Hungary, in the south of the country. It has many old buildings, some form the Middle Age and many museums. It has the oldest Hungarian university, which was later split up into smaller universities. It also has the essentials i.e. train station, shopping mall, etc.
The fourth largest city, also in the south of the country. Many nice old buildings and not as much dominated by the university as Debrecen, but even more town-like. It has a big river flowing through it, the Tisza. Also has a train station, shopping mall, etc. The city is famous for its cuisine, especially the red pepper (paprika). As an interesting fact, it is the sister-city of Cambridge, UK.
There is a universal application system, but many universities have a separate application for their courses in English, in which case you should apply directly to the university. You should always check before applying.
The universal application system
You have to submit a paper application. The deadline for Hungarians is 15 February but sometimes there is a later deadline for foreigners. You can name as many courses as you wish but you need to set up an order of preference. There is no personal statement or interviews. You get a score out of 480 for your grades and everything depends on that. The point boundaries come out in the middle of July each year and if you have enough points for your first choice then you get admitted there, if not, they start going down your list.
The point system
It is quite similar to UCAS points. Your A level (or equivalent) grades get converted into points by a governmental body. The calculation is based on your predicted grades but even if you don't meet your predictions it is unlikely that you will be refused admission. The Hungarian students get their grades in percentages so when converting A level grades you get the benefit of the doubt. So and A is converted as 100%, a B as 80%, etc. There is no news how will this change with the introduction of A* grades.
To be continued...