Our Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all I would like to thank you for the invitation to speak at the opening ceremony of this conference.
It's a great pleasure and privilege for me to welcome all of you on behalf of the Budapest University of Economic Sciences.
This is the fourth annual conference of the Alliance of Universities for Democracy; that means our organization now has a certain tradition.
The representatives of our university took part in the first steps of the Alliance, and we were among the original endorsers of the AUDEM declaration. As far as I'm concerned I can identify with one of the most important purposes of our organization which calls for enhancing the role of education in promoting democratic institutions, economic development, and common moral and social values.
For a few minutes I would like to tell you about our university, which was founded as an autonomous university in 1948. We have roughly 7,000 students and 550 faculty members. We have four faculties: Faculty of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, and Faculty of Postgraduate Studies. Beyond that we have some special institutions and programs, for example the International Studies Center, where we provide for our foreign students both undergraduate and graduate programs in English. We have special MBA programs as well.
Since 1988 our teaching system has followed a so-called two-stage curriculum, which in my opinion is competitive and comparable with the European standards. We can provide a basic diploma (Bachelor's degree), which can be obtained after three years of intensive study. After another two years of study we can provide a Master's degree. Our professors have scored notable academic success. Many of them are Visiting Professors at different universities all over the world. The university has regular relations with more than 70 universities. Several hundred institutions have been visited by our staff or have sent staff to visit us. The three main focal points of our international contacts are Western Europe, North America, and the East European region.
Let me draw to your attention two of our special programs. We have 30 Hungarian-born postgraduate students from Rumania to whom we are going to provide a postgraduate business administration degree. We have a special shared undergraduate program with a City University in Slovakia in Kiralybelmec for the Hungarian-born Slovakians. We are ready to give technical and scientific aid for similar programs in Hungary where, for instance, Slovakian, Rumanian, German, etc. born Hungarian citizen students would be able to get a higher economic education. I think this purpose isn't strange for the Constitution of the Alliance of Universities for Democracy.
The representatives of our university will hold some lectures. One of them will deal with our special education programs abroad. The focus of another is privatization. The third lecture will deal with the changes of the higher education system in Hungary. Presently we are witnesses to the proliferation of the newly born countries. The importance of one country is decreasing in the eyes of the Western world, however this transition period has its bitter pills to swallow. We have to cope with the adversities. I think the higher education system should play a very important role even in this period.
Ladies and Gentlemen! Let's take strength from each other! Let's change our experiences according to higher education. I wish you a most successful conference. Thank you for your attention.
* Jozsef Veress, Vice Rector, Budapest University of Economic Sciences