ERG SES G 08, Minorities and Education
The purpose of our research is to compare Romania’s and Hungary’s higher educational sectors concerning the acceptance/non-acceptance attitudes of students towards their non-traditional student colleagues. This paper is based on a comparative analysis of acceptance/non-acceptance attitudes in universities located in the shared border region of the two countries.
The theoretical framework of the research has been grounded on sociological and historical fundaments. Romania and Hungary are two post-communist East-Central European countries. Based on Word Values Survey (WVS) results, Keller (2009) argues that the mentality of Hungarians presents more similarities with the rather closed traditional orthodox culture countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, then with the Western European countries (Keller 2009). The two neighbor countries’ higher education histories have also many common characteristics. After 1989, the transition year from the communist regime to a multi-party democratic political system, the two countries’ higher education system was in transition from ’elite’ to a ’mass’ stage.
In communist times, Romania had a higher education system strictly controlled by the state. Statistical data after the transition show a transition towards a ‘mass’ system. The number of students continuously increased and the culminant point was in 2008, when 31,5% of 20-29 aged population studied in higher education. Since 1989, Romania’s basic educational legal framework was reformed two times: in 1998 and again in 2011. The Bologna process was introduced in the period 2005-2008 (Trow, 2005, Curaj et al.2015).
Similarly to Romania, after the second world war the higher education in Hungary was organized according to the Soviet model: centralized management, low participation, strong professional training. The educational law was unitary and applicable for every level of education. After the transition the first higher educational law was adopted in 1993 and reformed many times ever since (Pusztai, 2008). Higher educational expansion developed quickly after the political transition. In 1998 nearly 30% of the 20-24 aged population studied in academic tertiary education. The culminant point was in 2005, when nearly half (46,6% ) of this young population was involved in higher educational studies. After that, the number of students considerably decreased. In 2014 only 23% of young people were expected to continue their study in higher education. The reasons are mainly connected to educational policy decisions (Kozma, 2010; OECD, 2014). The Bologna system in Hungary was introduced since 2006.
In both countries, one of the characteristics of student population who enrolled in recent decades has been the increasing presence of specific groups in higher education, generically named non-traditional students, due to their heterogeneous background, special needs and difficulties. In recent decades, low family status, Roma, disability, minority, religious and foreigner students gained greater access to tertiary level of education. In spite of this fact, the specificity of this student population was so far rather neglected, by researchers and decision-makers alike (Engler, 2014). By focusing on collegial student attitudes towards various types of non-traditional students, our research aims to provide a contribution to filling this gap.
The first research objective is to investigate the socio-economic and cultural characteristics of various groups of non-traditional students, and based on these characteristics to define specific types of non-traditional students.
The second research objective is to explore the collegial attitudes of students towards their non-traditional peers, taking into account the already defined typology of non-traditional student groups.
The third research objective is to discuss student attitudes of acceptance/non-acceptance in a cross-border comparative perspective and to identify similarities and differences between Romania and Hungary.
Based on the results of the comparative analysis, the research will formulate hypotheses concerning the possible causes and explanatory factors of the identifyed similarities and differences, and will propose directions for future research.
1.Curaj, A. et al. (2015). Higher Education Reforms in Romania. Between the Bologna Process and National Challenges. Springer. 2.Engler, Á. (2014). Hallgatói metszetek. Debrecen: CHERD - Hungary. 3.Keller, T. (2009). Magyarország helye a világ értéktérképén. Budapest: TÁRKI - Social Research Institute Inc. 4.Kozma, T. (2010). Expanzió. Educatio 2010/1, 7-18. 5.OECD. (2014). Education at a glance . 6.Pusztai, G., & Szabó, P. C. (2008). A Bolognai folyamat percepciója Magyarországon. In T. Kozma, & M. Rébay, Bolognai folyamat Közép-Európában (old.: 68-86). Budapest: Új Mandátum. 7.Trow, M. (2005). Reflection on the transition from elite to mass universal access: forms and phases of higher education in modern societies since WWII. In P. A. ed., International Handbook of Higher Education. Kluwer.
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