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Bridge to Higher Education

In 2013/2014, with the participation of two professors (K. Megyeri and E. Berlinger) and a couple of students at Corvinus University, we carried out a small scale program that aimed to help a few very poor and disadvantaged Roma high school students to gain access to higher education. When designing the program, we followed the recommendations of Professor Barr by demystifying the university, raising the students’ aspirations, and improving their school attainments especially in Mathematics and English. The program relied mostly on university students who served as teachers and personal mentors. This was a pilot project with just four Roma high school students as participants. Finally two of them, Noémi Lakatos és Imre Roland have been admitted to the business and management Bachelor program of Budapest Business School. This year we are following and extending the program to 8-10 participants.


Access to the HE: It can be seen international comparative statistics that it is the tertiary education where private benefits are the most significant in terms of income, employment, health, life expectancy and overall life satisfaction. Therefore, the safest road to liberation from poverty leads through higher education. As Professor Barr convincingly argues, if a well-designed student loan system exists in a country, access to higher education is essentially determined by the high school achievements. Therefore, if we wish to ensure equal opportunities for the poor, we have to go back at least to high school to improve the system.

School system in Hungary: According to the latest PISA Report, in the Hungarian school system it is practically impossible for poor students to perform well in school and, as a consequence, they are almost completely excluded from higher education, especially from those degrees that lead to high personal returns in later life. If we rank 65 developed and emerging countries according to the ability of the school system to smooth out social differences, we find that Hungary and Peru are by far the lowest ones down on this list. This is a shame for the country, as well as a huge waste of human resources.

Focus on mathematics: We are convinced that mathematics is the most useful and the most transferable subject. It is reflected also in the fact that the most valuable degrees require high level math knowledge and problem solving skills not only at the entrance exam, but all along the educational program. However, due to the adverse selection tendencies in the underfinanced Hungarian school system, it seems that poor children of poor little villages have the greatest disadvantage just in maths.

Focus on independent work: In line with improving mathematical performance we also wish to develop corresponding skills such as focusing, time management, career planning, communication and most importantly independent learning. Therefore, the program is organised such a way that students come to Corvinus University of Budapest once in every 2 weeks and spend whole Saturday with learning and practicing maths. At the end of the day they receive a well-defined homework: about 100-150 exercises to solve for the next time. During the 2 weeks we keep contact by email and phone, students have to report continuously on their progress and they are encouraged to ask their mentor for help if they have any problems. Each time they come to Budapest the costs of traveling is reimbursed and they also receive a scholarship depending on their achievements. The preparatory course begin in November and lasts until May. For more information, email to krisztina.megyeri@uni-corvinus or edina.berlinger@uni-corvinus.hu.

Finance: The first year of operation was supported from the generous donation of Földfém Limited Co. via the Foundation of the Department of Finance, Corvinus University of Budapest. The basic principal of financing was that teachers, mentors and administrative staff received neither payments nor cost reimbursements for their work. Funds were spent solely on scholarships to students, traveling costs of students and other materials helping students such as books, calculating machine etc.

Cooperation with civil sector: During the program we are closely cooperating with civil organizations, most importantly:

Polgár Foundation for Opportunities helps in contacting and selecting the participants all over the country.

The foundation has the mission to improve the life chances and circumstances of disadvantaged, especially Roma communities and individuals. It aims to support the cause for equal opportunities for all, searches and follows new paths and makes efficient use of available funding.

Dr. Ámbédkár High School helps also in recruiting and motivating participants.

The school’s mission is to gather and help the most disadvantaged, mostly Roma students to finish the elementary school, then the high school in one of the most distressed areas of Hungary (county Borsod-Abauj-Zemplén) based on the philosophy of Gandhi.

Studium Generale provides seminars and learning materials.

The organisation’s main goal is to help underprivileged students. Studium Generale offers courses in mathematics, economics and history to graduating and pre-graduate high school students free of charge in preparation for their Matura exams. Preparation takes place in the form of week-end seminars and e-learning courses for student all over Hungary.

Rajk László College for Advanced Studies (in Hungarian: Rajk László Szakkollégium) offers a one-by-one mentorship program

The College is an educational institution offering accommodation as well as advanced courses in the fields of economics and social sciences, establishing a community for students excelling in these fields. It was founded in 1970 by the students of the Corvinus University of Budapest (then Karl Marx University of Economic Sciences), with Attila Chikán as its first principal. It is the oldest existing institution of the kind in Hungary, giving a model to later colleges.

Central European University organises communication exercises in English.

CEU is a graduate-level “crossroads” university where faculty and students from more than 100 countries come to engage in interdisciplinary education, pursue advanced scholarship, and address some of society’s most vexing problems. 

Photo Gallery

Dr. Ámbédkár High School at Sajókaza

Mentoring and preparing for the high school graduation at Sajókaza

Students admitted to the Budapest Business School (Budapesti Gazdasági Főiskola)

Noémi Lakatos

Roland Imre

Doing Math at Corvinus University of Budapest

A high school student participating in the prepartoy course in Mathematics 2014/2015 comes from a little village where she takes care of animals in a farm of her family. She has a strong commitment to become economist.

Last modified: 2018.11.30.