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Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in Hungary: the Introduction of the Chancellor System

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After the change of regime in 1989, Hungarian higher education started to return to its Humboldtian tradition. It was widely accepted that academic freedom could be guaranteed by high degree of institutional autonomy manifested especially in structures of self-governance and avoidance of direct state supervision/interventions. Attempts to introduce boards and other supervising bodies were successfully resisted until 2011. The new government coming into power in 2010, however, introduced new mechanisms of supervision and changed institutional governance and reduced institutional autonomy considerably. Changes in the selection of rectors, the appearance of state-appointed financial inspectors and the newly appointed Chancellors responsible for the finance, maintenance and administration of institutions are important milestones in this process. In the paper I review these developments focusing especially on the analysis of the Chancellor system.
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KOVÁTS, Gergely
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of
Higher Education Institutions in Hungary: the Introduction of
the “Chancellor System”
Abstract. After the change of regime in 1989, Hungarian higher education started to return
to its Humboldtian tradition. It was widely accepted that academic freedom could be
guaranteed by high degree of institutional autonomy manifested especially in structures of
self-governance and avoidance of direct state supervision/interventions. Attempts to
introduce boards and other supervising bodies were successfully resisted until 2011. The
new government coming into power in 2010, however, introduced new mechanisms of
supervision and changed institutional governance and reduced institutional autonomy
considerably. Changes in the selection of rectors, the appearance of state-appointed
financial inspectors and the newly appointed Chancellors responsible for the finance,
maintenance and administration of institutions are important milestones in this process. In
the paper I review these developments focusing especially on the analysis of the
„Chancellor system”.
1. The ambivalent relationship between the state and the higher education sector in
Hungary
In a series of interviews conducted in 2010 and 2011 among Hungarian deans and senior
managers (Kováts 2012), the context of higher education was generally characterised by
the malleability and unpredictability of the regulation. For example, one of the interviewee
said:”The higher education system has been under constant reform for 20 years now. As I
see it, it should be left alone for a while, although it's only my opinion. It might be of more
use to society than its perpetual transformation. But now once more, which is going to
rewrite the map of competition again, we'll have to be very sensible there.” Another
quotation: “Another thing is that the macro-environment is impossible to follow. So the
constant changing of the rules of the game. The whole thing is not simply very exhausting
to follow, but absolutely, it‘s not fair. Is it? Look, then you say: why should I take part in a
game which is not fair? Well… So, this is very, very boring when you are forced into a
process of such constant adaptation. Which you either live up to or not. You try to live up to
it to the best of your knowledge. But it’s difficult, well, difficult to live up to it.”
The dominance of this perspective is not surprising if we consider that the interviews were
conducted in 2010 and 2011, when the new government were beginning their term and
brainstorming about the higher education policy. However, it is also true that between 1990
and 2015, for instance, Hungary had four substantially different higher education laws,
which were supplemented by numerous legislative amendments and government decrees.
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in
Hungary: the Introduction of the “Chancellor System”
27
In my opinion, one possible reason for the permanent change is congestion, one of the
defining attributes of Central- and Eastern-European countries. Following the change of
regime, all the processes that had taken place gradually- in 20-30 years in developed
Western countries- commenced at the same time in post-socialist countries. It is noticeable
in Hungary as well that the massification of higher education, the attempts at the reform of
funding and management, the transformation of the educational structure, etc. took place
simultaneously. (Fábri 2004; Semjén 2004; Derényi 2009; Polónyi 2009) These processes
occurred within the considerably unstable legal and normative frameworks of the change of
the socio-economic regime, as a result of which there was no real possibility of a consistent
implementation of mature higher education concepts. Thus, although changes occurred
fast in the regulatory context (and often altered), in practice, already familiar solutions are
proved to be dominant. The adjustment of the different elements of the higher education
system has not taken place yet.
As a consequence, numerous higher education narratives co-exist simultaneously in the
public discourse. One of them is the extensive reinvigoration of Humboldtian ideals.
Referring to this, Scott aptly said that “so even after Communism ceased to exist, it
continued to promote homogeneity” (Scott 2006:430) Although the higher education
systems of the countries in the region have different (partly German, partly French) roots,
the 40 years of Soviet influence proved to be a significant homogenising force, as a legacy
of which significant co-movement can be seen in the countries of the region after the
change of regime as well (Reisz 2003).
The Humboldtian ideal places the freedom (and unity) of education and research in its
centre, which is provided by the state through guaranteeing the autonomy and academic
freedom of higher education institutions. As these in the social sciences in particular
were highly limited under the communist regime, the fulfilment of the Humboldtian ideal
meant the transcendence of the Soviet model and in many countries – in Hungary as well –
the return to the national model.
However, the legitimacy of the Humboldtian model is not only based on these two factors
but also on the fact that Western-European universities have mostly been identified with
this model. The belief that the institutionalisation of the autonomy and independence of the
university guarantees the modernisation of Central-European universities and their
approximating Western higher education is also rooted in this phenomenon (Neave
2003:25). Meanwhile, however, it is forgotten that – as we have seen – academic freedom
is increasingly conditional even in the West; namely, it cannot be taken for granted but has
to be fought for (Henkel 2007:96). Therefore, the attitude towards the Humboldtian model
in Western higher education is significantly different from that in Central- and Eastern-
European higher education: “at the very moment higher education in Central Europe
successfully called upon the ghost of von Humboldt to cast out the demons of Party and
Nomenklatura, so their colleagues in the West were summoned to exorcise the spectre of
KOVÁTS, Gergı
28
the same gentleman, the better to assimilate Enterprise Culture, managerialism and the
cash nexus into higher education” (Neave 2003:30) In other words: post-socialist countries
are pursuing an idealised, perceived model (Reisz 2003). It is understandably why Scott
writes that “the Humboldtian university exists in a purer form east of the Elbe” (Scott
2006:438).
Meanwhile, in the economy and other spheres of society, the (neo)liberal approach was
significantly prevalent, in which the role of the state was reassessed and self-sufficiency as
well as the increasing role of market mechanisms were more emphasised. Rhetorically
(e.g. through the concept of the entrepreneurial university) as well as in regulation (e.g.
attempts at introducing the tuition fee, the reform of the management system or the
appearance of alternative funding concepts), this tendency appeared in higher education
as well; although, I believe, it was unable to secure a dominant position.
Thus, there is a specific ambivalent relation within the beliefs about the role of the state in
higher education: the post-Soviet legacy implies the desire for institutional autonomy and
the refusal of state intervention. However, institutional autonomy also wants protection
against the vulnerability of market relations, which, however, is provided by state
regulation. Thus, in the Hungarian higher education, the desire for and refusal of a
provident state (and state regulation) co-exist
1
. Paradoxically, the Humboldtian idea
simultaneously becomes a “progressive” notion as well as one “preventing progress” as it
can be considered to be the correction of the overcentralised Soviet model as well as the
inhibitor of the (otherwise contradictorily judged) transformation processes taking place in
Western-Europe facilitating a more significant social participation of institutions.
Even if there is a pro-market logic in higher education, which urges the “emancipation” of
institutions and their taking responsibility as well as the extension of their space for
manoeuvre and business actions, higher education was mainly envisioned in the
modernising-idealising-traditionalist Humboldtian narrative. This narrative is reflected well
by the Constitutional Court's explanatory statement about the unconstitutionality of the
sections of the higher education law of 2005 on establishing the Financial Board
2
.
According to this, it is against the freedom of education and research if such a board has
1
The role of the state in Western-European higher education is changing; however, there, the
process is not rooted in the distrust of the state, as it is in post-socialist Central-European countries.
2
According to the original concept, the members of the Financial Board would have not been
employed by the university. They would have been delegated by the university, the students and the
government in a way that the members delegated by the educational government would have been
in minority. (The rector is also a member.)
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in
Hungary: the Introduction of the “Chancellor System”
29
the authority to decide on the institutional strategy, and such freedom may only be ensured
through a body consisting of only institutional members.
3
The dominance of the Humboldtian idea is further promoted by the controversial nature of
ideological control of the former regime, which made direct government control and
interference undoubtedly delicate matters after 1990. Therefore, certain passivity on behalf
of governments in this respect is not coincidental. In general, the government’s activity may
be manifested as micromanagement or as a focus on operative tasks; during which
reporting becomes bureaucratic and strategic control is missing (e.g. no conscious
development of long-term incentive systems, performance funding systems).
This evolution of higher education resulted in a controversial relationship with institutional
autonomy. On one hand, higher education institutions required self-governance, high
degree of freedom to change internal structures and the lack of direct interventions
regarding the content of teaching and research, and the lack of strong reporting and
accountability mechanisms (e.g. lack of external supervisory boards with decision making
powers). On the other hand, strict regulations on the structure and processes of
educational programmes (Bologna-process, enrolment), selection of institutional managers,
funding processes and mechanisms as well as staffing (public servant status) were
accepted.
This situation was partly reflected in a survey on institutional autonomy conducted by
Estermann, Nokkala et al. (2011) among 28 countries. The authors defined four
dimensions of institutional autonomy: organizational autonomy, financing autonomy,
staffing autonomy and academic autonomy. In the survey it was found that Hungary was
ranked on 24
th
in academic autonomy with a result of 47% because of strict limitations in
selection of bachelor students and the determination of the number of students, and
because of the obligations to accredit all programmes (while there is only one accepted
accrediting agency). On the other hand, institutions have high freedom to determine the
content of teaching and research programmes. In staffing autonomy, Hungary was ranked
in the middle (17
th
place, 66%). Public servant status and the limitations stemming from it
(e.g. on dismissals) deteriorated the position, which was counterbalanced by the freedom
in promoting and compensating employees. Selection is only restricted in case of university
professors where external conformation is required. Financial autonomy was really high in
Hungary in 2010 (6
th
place, 71%) which was the result of the freedom to set tuition fees.
Short planning cycles, limitations to rearranging budgets, the inability to request credits,
and restrictions in property managements, however, restrain financial autonomy. Finally, in
organizational autonomy Hungary was ranked 16th place (59%). Freedom to change
internal structure and to found spin-offs was mentioned as positive characteristics in the
3
Constitutional Court ruling 39/2006. (IX. 27.)
KOVÁTS, Gergı
30
report, while restrictions in selecting the rector and the number of consecutive terms as well
as limitations on the delegations of external members of Financial Boards decreased
organizational autonomy. But how has the situation changed since 2010?
2. New government in 2010
In 2010 when the new government came into power it would have been difficult to predict
how higher education would change. In contrast with economic policy, health care or social
policy, education (including higher education) was almost completely omitted from the
official governmental programme. Higher education appeared only in the chapter „It’s high
time to recover Hungarian economy” written by György Matolcsy
4
showing that higher
education is treated mainly as vocational education subordinated to labour market.
Later, the so-called Széll Kálmán Plans (developed by the Ministry led by György Matolcsy)
described higher education as a sector with „deformed structure”. In addition, it was also
perceived that „students graduated on fields useful for labour market” left the country.
(SZKT 2011:23) The image of needlessly large and deformed higher education is reflected
in the goal that „higher education should not motivate anybody to spend their young years
in happy idleness.” (SZKT 2011:25) To solve these problems, „the state has to return to the
world of education” (SZKT 2011:24), and not just the educational structure should be
determined on governmental level, but also the number of state funded student should be
reduced. As higher education increases debts and causes costs, the plan aimed to
withdrawn 88 billion HUF (cc. 300 million EUR) from the sector in the next three year
(SZKT 2011). It was realized.
In the new governmental structure, higher education became marginalized. The former
Ministry of Education dissolved into a superministry (currently called Ministry of Human
Capacities) responsible for education, health care, culture, sport, social affairs, family
affairs and religion. As a result, higher education had to fight for governmental and
ministerial attention as well as for resources with other large social areas. This change in
the structure reflected the intention that ministers should not act as a lobbyist for an area,
but as an executor of governmental decisions. (Szalay 2011)
Between 2010 and 2013 higher education was the responsibility of a deputy secretary of
state. Although higher education became independent from the state secretary of
education in 2013, when a new state secretary was created, the fluctuation of (deputy)
state secretaries of higher education remained high. Between 2010 and 2015 five persons
occupied that position and four different concepts/strategies for higher education were
developed. Three of them were elaborated after the acceptance of the new law on national
higher education (in 2011).
4
Later he became the State Minister of National Economy, and later the president of the Hungarian
National Bank.
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in
Hungary: the Introduction of the “Chancellor System”
31
Moreover, in comparison with the previous practice, the role of Ministry of Human
Capacities was limited considerably in making decisions in higher education. In questions
related to funding, operations and property management as well as questions closely
connected to these topics (such as number of state funded students), the interests of the
Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of National Economy were prevalent.
These ministries decided on the appointment of Chief Financial Directors, Internal
Controllers and (Chief) Budget Supervisors (see later).
In 2010 a higher education concept described this division of labour desirable. Later
however, in 2012, another concept suggested its reconsideration as the „ministry’s capacity
and possibilities as the maintainer of institutions were narrowed considerably.” (NEFMI
2012:25)
The fragmented representation of higher education and the weakened position of the
Ministry of Human Capacities decreased the ability of higher education to enforce its
interests. It also increased the dependence of institutions from politics in general.
3. Changes in the institutional autonomy
The autonomy of institutions has been narrowed down from several aspects since the
approval of the National Higher Education Act of 2011. In the area of education and
research, admission quotas for each institution and educational areas were centrally set
and the number of state-funded places of the most popular 16 programmes has been
drastically cut.
In the domain of staffing autonomy the public employee system did not change, although
public servants above age 65 were forced to retire which may have long-term effects in the
future.
Between 2010 and 2013 the state support of higher education decreased by 29%. Only
Greece reduced state funding of higher education with higher proportion in this period (-
38%).
5
As a result between 2010 and 2012 the state funding of higher education as a
percentage of GDP decreased from 0,8% to approximately 0,5% (OECD 2013) pushing
Hungary to the last of OECD countries. However, decreasing state was not
counterbalanced by the increase of financial autonomy so that institutions had the
possibility to diversify their funding. On the contrary, the government started to tighten
budgetary rules. Following the French practice, the position of (Chief) Budgetary Inspector
was created in 2010. Inspectors (appointed by the minister of National Wealth) were
responsible to control expenses and to increase savings by filtering out unjustifiable
expenses. They had to look over and – if necessary – suspend institutional procurements
5
see: http://www.eua.be/eua-work-and-policy-area/governance-autonomy-and-funding/public-
funding-observatory-tool.aspx (downloaded 1 Nov 2013)
KOVÁTS, Gergı
32
and payments. Inspectors were also expected to improve communication between the
Ministry and the institutions. (Gárdos 2012) The position of budgetary inspector was
abolished in 2014.
In addition, between 2011 and 2014, it was not the rector who appointed the Chief
Financial Director and the internal controller, but the minister responsible for the budget.
The appointment of Chief Financial Director by the minister institutionalized the shared
leadership in higher education, which further relativized rectors’ primary responsibility and
their ability to intervene. This system was fulfilled by the introduction of the chancellors.
Organizational autonomy was further curtailed by additional modifications in the selection
and appointment of academic leaders. Before 2011 the role of the Ministry of Education
was to perform judicial review in the selection of rectors, and did not overwrite institutional
preferences. If the selection procedure was all right, the minister confirmed the choice of
institutions. The new higher education act limited the power of the Senate to suggest and
express opinion. The right to select the new rector was transferred to the minister (which
was reconsidered with the introduction of chancellors in 2014, see later). According to the
Hungarian Rectors’ Conference Hungarian higher education was the only example in this
matter in Europe. The ministry indeed influenced the selection process in many institutions.
For instance in some cases, the ministry selected those candidates who remained in
minority during institutional votings (University of Debrecen, College of Kecskemét). In
other cases the ministry repeated the whole application and selection process when
candidates were not regarded adequate (University of Miskolc). In addition, age limitations
and the number of consecutive terms were also modified which resulted in that many
deans and rectors in office had to be replaced.
In 2005 and 2006 the Constitutional Court prevented the establishment of Financial Boards
because these boards (consisting of many external members) would have made decisions
on institutional strategy and the selection of rectors. This was considered as
unconstitutional because it breached institutional autonomy. As a result Financial Boards
were toned down granting the right to express its opinion, rather than to decide.
To evade a similar procedure (and result) of the Constitutional Court, the government
modified the Constitution (Fundamental Law) in 2013 and restricted institutional autonomy.
It is now declared that “Higher education institutions shall be autonomous in terms of the
content and the methods of research and teaching; their organisation shall be regulated by
an Act. The Government shall, within the framework of an Act, lay down the rules governing
the management of public higher education institutions and shall supervise their
management.” (Article X paragraph 3)
It is worth noting that between 2011 and 2013 members of Financial Boards were almost
exclusively delegated by ministries. In 2013, however, maintaining Financial Boards
became optional, and institutions gained the right to choose the members.
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in
Hungary: the Introduction of the “Chancellor System”
33
Finally, other aspects of organizational autonomy were curtailed, too. From the 1990s
institutional freedom to create new faculties or to change internal structures has been
gradually increased (see Kováts 2012). The law in force in 2010 practically left to the
institutions to define their own internal structures. Because of branding and market
positioning reasons, many small faculties were created (e.g. the Faculty of Dentistry at the
University of Szeged). Operating in a non-faculty structure was also possible in principle.
The new Act on National Higher Education, however, started to classify institutions by the
number and size of faculties. Especially the behaviour of institutions with narrow profiles
was influenced because they were forced to maintain several faculties in order to keep their
status of „university”.
4. The introduction of the chancellor system
At the end of 2014 the introduction of the chancellor system brought an additional turn,
which was implemented along with the restitution of the institutions’ rights to elect their
rectors. The position of budgetary inspectors in higher education institutions was also
abolished.
According to the National Higher Education Act, the chancellor is in charge of the
functioning of the institution: he is responsible “for the economic, financial, controlling,
accounting, employment, legal, management and IT activities of the higher education
institution, the asset management of the institution, including the matters of technology,
institution utilization, operation, logistics, service, procurement and public procurement, and
he directs its operation in this field” – moreover, he has the right of consent in the above
areas. The chancellor is the employer of all the workers except for the instructors,
researchers and teachers.
The institutions had no say in the selection of the chancellors; the procedure was carried
out above their heads. The job application procedure was managed by the Ministry of
Human Capacities, the appointment of the chancellor was performed by the Prime Minister;
what is more, the chancellor is accountable to his employer, the Minister of Human
Capacities. It is worth mentioning that the introduction of the chancellor system took place
mostly with reference to the practice in Germany. It is undoubtable that the higher
education regulations of numerous German Länder assign the position of the chancellor
several duties and responsibilities similar to the Hungarian ones (e.g. in several places, the
chancellor has a veto right in budget issues). But even if earlier it was indeed the Länder
government or ministry that appointed the chancellors at the head of the institutions, whose
duty was to represent the state within the institution, the state has withdrawn from the direct
control of the institutions by now and increased their operational and financial autonomy.
According to the German Länder regulations in force, nowadays chancellors are elected in
many places by the board of instructors and students and/or the board of university and
external stakeholders upon the proposal of the institution’s rector or president. In all
Länders, institutions have the possibility to influence the selection of the chancellor, and in
KOVÁTS, Gergı
34
several of them (e.g. in Bavaria) the employer of the chancellor is the rector or president of
the institution, and the state merely approves the appointment of the chancellor.
A similar practice is applied at the Hungarian Andrássy Gyula German Language University
(a university with strong German ties), where the chancellor’s appointment and dismissal is
decided by the 11-member Senate composed of the rector, the deans, the head of the
doctoral school and the representatives of students and instructors in the framework of a
so-called “co-decision procedure” upon the proposal of the Rector’s Council. In other
words, the decision has to be approved by the University Council composed of the
representatives of internal and external stakeholders. As it is described in the by-law of the
institution: “The employer’s rights above the chancellor are exercised by the rector; the
rector may give orders to the chancellor.”
6
(10§ paragraph 3)
Therefore, in contrast to the current Hungarian regulation, the German institutions have a
major say in the choice of the chancellor’s person. This shared leadership does not mean
that the chancellor is entirely independent from the rector, but that the legitimacy of the
chancellor is strong, irrespective of the rector’s confidence in him, which is assured by the
rules of the selection process. Since the chancellor is confirmed by external and internal
stakeholders as well, the rector has to take the chancellor’s position very seriously.
However, in case of a conflict, the rector is able to enforce his will (for instance, he can give
orders to the chancellor or propose his dismissal at the university boards), but then he
bears all the liabilities. Therefore the chancellor is able to perform his duties properly and
counterbalance the rector if he has the necessary internal support besides the external
confirmation. The former derives from the fact that the institution itself takes part in the
selection procedure.
The Hungarian practice diverges from this logic on two points significantly: on the one
hand, there are no mechanisms to resolve conflicts between the chancellor and the
academic leadership (rector), and on the other, the chancellor’s external and internal
legitimacy is uncertain, not to mention the strong tendencies inherent in the system to
erode his internal legitimacy.
The risk of conflicts in higher education institutions may be reduced by the abundance of
funding; that is, there can be no severe conflicts about distribution because the state pays
all substantial expenses (as was the case in German higher education a few decades ago).
However, in a system laden with financial tension, where the institution is forced to
generate some of the funds necessary for its own maintenance, conflicts of distribution and
cross-funding are bound to emerge. All of that reinforces the constraint to weigh every
academic decision from an economic point of view as well. In theory, there are two ways to
6
http://www.andrassyuni.eu/upload/File/OffizielleDokumente/Satzung11.12.2014.pdf (accessed: 6
Apr 2015)
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in
Hungary: the Introduction of the “Chancellor System”
35
go about that: on the one hand, it is possible to strengthen the integrated and simultaneous
validation of economic and academic/professional points of view, that is, to reinforce and
clearly define the financial responsibilities within the institution (e.g. by clarifying the
professional and financial responsibilities of programme directors, heads of department,
grant programme managers). The other possibility is to separate the two institutionally: with
the introduction of the chancellor system, the rector is in charge of the academic activities,
while the chancellor is responsible for the organization of the administration and the
budget. The system thus established ensures that both academic and economic arguments
are taken into consideration in each decision-making process. At the same time, it sparks
conflict as well because the representation of these separate aspects are assigned to
separate people, which means that conflicts in the system will inevitably escalate into
conflicts between people (positions).
It may constitute a further source of conflict if the chancellor tries to place his people into
certain positions. For the chancellor, it is logical to fulfil the positions of chief financial
officers, HR managers and technical or IT managers with people whom he trusts. However,
by doing so he pushes some people out of the administration who have worked at the
institution for a long time and/or enjoy the confidence of the rector’s management team.
Although the law stipulates that the chancellor “shall be required to observe his obligation
to cooperate with the rector”, there is no guarantee for that. In other words, the operation of
the institution does not depend on guarantees, established procedures or a decision-
making hierarchy regardless of individuals, but on the persons of the chancellor and the
rector. There is a lack of mechanisms to help resolve conflicts between the chancellor and
the rector: the rector is not the chancellor’s employer, he cannot dismiss the chancellor or
give orders to him if he does not agree with the chancellor’s decisions, whereas the
chancellor can impede the functioning of the institution for a long time. If conflicts persist for
a long time or become more severe, the Minister needs to interfere. Thus, while conflict
management depends on interpersonal cooperation, the institutions have no means to
participate in the selection of the chancellor to test and to verify the “match”.
The lack of conflict management procedures has been present not only in the chancellor
system, but also in the system of Chief Financial Officers appointed by the government, so
nothing crucial has changed compared to that. With the introduction of the chancellor
system, it is the rector’s “conflict management tool kit” that is being compromised at the
most, since from now on the institutions will have no possibility to limit the government-
appointed official’s room for manoeuvre by reorganizing the administration. For it had
happened in the past that an institution “outsourced” part of the administrative activities
originally belonging to the Chief Financial Officer and re-assigned them in the rector’s
competence. However, not even then had there been room for the outsourcing of signature
rights, which guaranteed the bargaining position of the Chief Financial Officer. With the
introduction of the chancellor system, it is the possibilities of restructuring that are narrowed
KOVÁTS, Gergı
36
down significantly because the latter now must be approved by the chancellor. The price of
that is the deterioration of the organizational autonomy of the institutions and it will be
harder to set up other types of institutional formations as well.
Another cornerstone of the operation of the chancellor system is the chancellor’s legitimacy
and acceptance. Without the latter, cooperation based on trust will become impossible,
which is of key importance in the case of expert organizations because one can only make
a deal with a chancellor without legitimation, but no mutual relations can be established
without confidence.
The chancellor’s internal acceptance is greatly impaired by the fact that the institutions
have no say in his selection. That weakens the chancellor’s internal acceptance by default
while it relieves the institution from the responsibility of choice. It carries a risk for the
government as well for it is basically the government that takes on all the responsibility of
the appointment as well as of the financial stability of the institutions. Should any problem
arise, it will be easy to blame it on the chancellor and/or the government.
Among the chancellors appointed at the end of 2014, there are several (university) insiders
who can make up for their lack of internal legitimacy (see table 2 below).
Table 1 Summary of the chancellors’ previous experience
visible relationship to the
ruling party*
previous
relationship with
the institution
experience
in
the higher
education
experience in the
business sector
yes, strong 9 8 12 17
yes, weak 4 3 0 4
no/not
revealed 15 14 14 4
no
information 1 4 3 4
total 29 29 29 29
explanation
for „strong”
position
in
public administration,
member of parliament or
member of local
government (as a party
delegate/member)
being employed
for at least two
years in the
institution
(senior)
management
position in a
higher
education
institution
being employed as a
manager at a
business
organization for at
least two years
explanation
for „weak”
management position in
public organizations
being
employed
for maximum
two years in the
institution
being employed as a
manager at public
organizations
Source: author’s compilation based on public CVs and news as of 1
Jan 2015
Recent Developments in the Autonomy and Governance of Higher Education Institutions in
Hungary: the Introduction of the “Chancellor System”
37
At the same time, there may be tendencies within the institutions to continuously erode the
chancellor’s internal legitimacy. By the separation of financial and academic
considerations, the rector (and all academic officials) will be freed from the constraint to
weigh their decisions and proposals from an economic point of view because that is “what
the chancellor is for”. In an extreme case, the rector might represent the most absurd
demands of instructors and researchers unscrupulously because refusing them and
covering the costs of their implementation (in case of approval) are both the duties of the
chancellor. If they are rejected, the rector might say that “he did all he could, but the
chancellor was against it, there is nothing to do”. The system established might breed a
tendency for the rector (the academic leadership) to impair the chancellor’s internal
acceptance – along with the possibility of future cooperation – in order to strengthen his or
her own internal legitimacy.
5. Conclusions
Despite the fact that the right of the institutions to elect their rectors was restored in 2014,
the introduction of the chancellor system on the whole tends to preserve the low-level
organizational and managerial autonomy of the institutions, especially because it reduces
their ability and possibility to take responsibility. The chancellor system could be suitable
for driving the efficiency of the utilization of resources (although the opportunities are
limited due to high proportion of salary costs in institutional budgets), but it is unlikely to
give an incentive to the institutions to find other sources of revenue.
The appearance of a chancellor acting independently from the rector disturbs the status
quo established within the institution. If the institution has been unable to sort out the
conflicts of interests within its walls and this has hampered the development of the
institution, then the appearance of the chancellor will offer a chance to decide about so-far
unresolved matters and to get out of the deadlock. However, the opposite scenario is also
possible when by tipping off the internal balance, the chancellor, instead of contributing to
the rationalization and consolidation of the institution, will aggravate and escalate conflicts.
Whether the first scenario will happen or the second depends on the situation of the
institution and the chancellor’s legitimacy.
The lack of mechanisms for conflict management does not mean, of course, that the
relationship between the chancellor and the rector is doomed to be bad. It means only that
while the created structure favours the generation of conflicts (since it separates academic
and economic considerations by position), it offers no solution to settle them. The system
now established does not mean, either, that the chancellor will necessarily suffer from a
lack of internal legitimacy, only that it will be continuously eroded by internal conflicts,
which will lead either to disengagement or to the representation of institutional interests.
However, it is questionable in both cases whether it is possible (if it has been ever
proposed) to assure the continuous monitoring of the institutions by the government
KOVÁTS, Gergı
38
through the chancellor system. In my opinion, it will increase the non-transparency of the
relations of lobbying, hence the dependence of the institutions, thus making trust-building
initiatives more difficult to carry out.
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The paper analyses the challenges posed to the principle of academic autonomy by the knowledge society and new conceptions of the state. It argues that these signify the breaking down of boundaries that have been critical for the justification of academic rights to self‐government and freedom of inquiry. The ideal of academe as a sovereign, bounded territory, free by right from intervention in its governance of knowledge development and transmission, has been superseded by ideals of engagement with societies in which academic institutions are ‘axial structures’. The paper then explores alternative concepts of institutional and individual self‐determination within a reconfigured polity, in which boundaries are permeable and the governance of knowledge and knowledge‐based institutions is shared and often contested between the state, the market and academic institutions. Institutional and individual academic autonomy understood in this way is not given or achieved once and for all, but neither is it out of academic control.
Chapter
Central and Eastern Europe offers a diversity of higher education systems—ranging from “post-Soviet,” in the sense that specialized higher education institutions often subject to non-education ministries are still prominent and traditional universities play a less dominant role, to “market” systems, with increasingly significant private sectors. The region also offers a diversity of institutional types—from traditional (often, very traditional) universities through specialized universities and quasi-industrial “monotechnics” to highly entrepreneurial private institutions. In addition, the region offers a range of academic and organizational cultures—from the “scientific” and “public” to the “applied” (or vocational) and “market.” As a result of this diversity it is difficult to make valid generalizations that can be applied to Central and Eastern European higher education as a bloc.
On the return from Babylon: A long voyage around history, ideology and systems change
  • Guy Neave
Neave, Guy (2003). On the return from Babylon: A long voyage around history, ideology and systems change. In: File, Jon -Goedegebuure, Leo (szerk.) (2003). Real-time systems. Reflections on higher education in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. Enschede: Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente 15-37 o.
Izomorfizmus, konfliktus és kreativitás. A közép és kelet-európai felsıoktatás az 1990-es években
  • Robert D Reisz
Reisz, Robert D. (2003). "Izomorfizmus, konfliktus és kreativitás. A közép és kelet-európai felsıoktatás az 1990-es években." (Isomorfism, Conflict and Creativity. Central and Eastern-European Higher Education in the 1990s) Educatio 12(1): 19-32. (in Hungarian)
The directions of development policy of the national higher education) version 6.0 (18 Apt
NEFMI (2012): A nemzeti felsıoktatás fejlesztéspolitikai irányai.(The directions of development policy of the national higher education) version 6.0 (18 Apt 2012). Ministry of National Resources, Budapest. (in Hungarian)
University Autonomy in Europe II. The Scorecard. Brussels: European University Association Available at: http://www.eua.be/Libraries
  • Th Estermann
  • T Nokkala
  • M Steinel
Estermann, Th. – Nokkala, T. – Steinel, M. (2011): University Autonomy in Europe II. The Scorecard. Brussels: European University Association. Available at: http://www.eua.be/Libraries/Publications_homepage_list/University_Autonomy_in_Europe_ II_-_The_Scorecard.sflb.ashx (accessed: 30 Oct 2013)
The Financial Operation, Organisation and Management of the Hungarian Higher Education System at the Beginning of the 2000s) Új Pedagógia Szemle
  • István Polónyi
Polónyi, István (2009b). "A hazai felsıoktatás gazdasági mőködése, szervezıdése és vezetése a 2000-es évek legelején." (The Financial Operation, Organisation and Management of the Hungarian Higher Education System at the Beginning of the 2000s) Új Pedagógia Szemle (8-9): p. 3-26 (in Hungarian)
A magyar felsıoktatás átalakulása 1989 és 2008 között (The Transformation of Hungarian Higher Education between Felsıoktatás-menedzsment
  • András Derényi
Derényi, András (2009). A magyar felsıoktatás átalakulása 1989 és 2008 között (The Transformation of Hungarian Higher Education between 1989 and 2008). In: Drótos, György – Kováts, Gergely (eds.) (2009). Felsıoktatás-menedzsment. Budapest: Aula Kiadó 31-62 o. (in Hungarian)