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Hungary: Asia scholarship scheme to boost trade ties

Hungary has included educational exchange as part of its foreign policy strategy of “Opening to the East” by offering 2,000 scholarships to students in Central and East Asia.

Negotiations are underway to extend the scheme to other Asian, Latin and East European countries

The estimated cost of each student would be between €3,409 and €4,262 – figures that might sit badly with domestic students after last year’s protest against cuts in subsidised education. Still, the government says it’s confident trade relationships forged through the programme will compensate costs.

“Foreign students support our market aspirations, the image of Hungary and the international-level awareness of Hungarian knowledge and intellect”

“Foreign students who have completed their studies in Hungary represent a significant pool of contacts towards the development of our foreign trade relations, supporting our market aspirations, the image of Hungary and the international-level awareness of Hungarian knowledge and intellect,” said the state secretariat for higher education, István Klinghammer.

The government has not said when the “Stipendium Hungaricum” scholarships will be awarded, but revealed it was in talks with foreign counterparts to offer support to students in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, China, Japan and other Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Negotiations are also underway to extend the scheme to students from Hungary’s “Near Eastern” and Latin American partners.

Based on bilateral agreements, the scholarships will be awarded to “the best foreign students” as determined by the partnering country, providing the student meets the entry requirements at the Hungarian institution.

Any course, undergraduate or postgraduate taught in Hungarian or English will be covered through the funding along with a monthly stipend.

As Hungary extends trade policy to include support for foreign students, the government has slashed funding for domestic university places by almost 40% and obligated subsidised students to stay in the country for at least 10 years after graduation.

New figures from the Institute for Economic and Enterprise Research (IEER) show that 36% of pre-university Hungarian students plan to study internationally. Out of 142,600 students graduating from high school in 2011, 141,000 applied to postsecondary studies. This year, only 95,000 applied to Hungarian higher education institutes, the lowest in two decades.

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