“The internationalisation of the National University of Public Service is our strategic goal and significant efforts have been made to to enhance NUPS’ international visibility and recognition” - said Dr. habil. Györgyi Nyikos. The Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Head of the Institute of Public Finance and Financial Law talked about the development areas, international accreditation, international mobility and the new Public Policy and Management MA degree programme.
You have been the Vice-Rector for International Affairs of NUPS for more than six months already. What changes do you think your leadership can bring in international matters?
Györgyi Nyikos: In line with the strategic objectives, my aim is to continue to work on the progressive processes in order to strengthen the university’s international visibility. Currently there is a special task within the international area: the execution of the PADOP-2.1.2 project using EU funds whose second sub-project aims to strengthen and support international activities. I beleive that I have brought changes because of my previous experiences related to the execution of the PADOP project and to the preparation of international projects. There have been successful reforms that facilitate the participation of presenters in international conferences. In relation to other international activities, we are using these resources efficiently in order to strenghten the university’s international visibility.
What fundamental goals have you defined?
Gy. Ny. I knew that this was a very important area for the university’s operation as well as for the country. I think that because of my experiences gained as lecturer and my expertise in the public administration and financial field, I can contribute to the execution of international activities at the university. I have previously worked as high ranking government official, diplomat and manager. I have also known NUPS for a long time because I have fulfilled several roles at its predecessor and after the establishment of NUPS, I have been working as lecturer and head of institute. When I received this honorable request, I had hoped that I could help making this area better and could achieve the defined strategic goals.
Which areas do you think could be improved in the framework of internationalization?
Gy. Ny. In my opinion, it is necessary to strengthen participation in joint international research projects while taking into account mobility and international cooperation results. Regarding the joint international research projects, several universities and research institutes from all around the world are carrying out joint researches. Thus it is important for NUPS to participate in as many projects as possible. We have launched the preparation process of numerous international projects and I hope those will indeed become projects. The result of these joint researches will strengthen not only the university’s mission but also its international recognition. I also beleive that the renowned participants and the publication of research results would contribute to the university’s visibility.
Which were your first tasks at the beginning of your assignment?
Gy. Ny. After accepting the assignment, one of my first task was to assess the international cooperations. We have prepared a strategic roadmap about our existing international relations. First outcome was that we have over one hundred international partner institutes. The second outcome of the analysis highlighted the list of countries and areas where we don’t have cooperation even though it would be beneficial. Due to the unique structure of the university, at NUPS each faculty represents an area that is a separate institute in other countries. Merging public administration, military science, law enforcement, international studies and water management into one institute does not occur in any other country. It also happened that foreign delegations were inquiring about the practical implementation of this concept, meaning that one single institute provides educational programmes for future government officials and experts in different fields. Other countries’ experts are now interested in our integrated approach.
What do you think are the criteria to divide universities regarding internationalisation?
Gy. Ny. There are different rankings to evaluate the internationalisation of universities. These rankings have same and also different criteria. For instance, they check the university’s degree programmes from topic and language point of view as well as the research opportunities. It is also important to know who are the lecturers and researchers, what is their scientific and international background. The number of students of a course and the service offered to the students by the university are also key points for the assessment. Due to the diverse criteria, it is sometimes difficult to compare these rankings. There are of course institutes that are well placed in all ranking, however the place they take is not necessarily the same. On the other hand, these rankings can be significant in identifying the areas for improvement in order to enhance the university’s performance and international reputation. For a new institution, it is naturally more difficult to compete with universities that have great traditions and significant scientific and economic capacities. These rankings are also suitable to highlight the status of a given institute and to see what criteria are used to define a university’s performance.
Where is NUPS currently located compared to other higher education institutions?
Gy. Ny. There are national, European and international lists. The international reputation of NUPS can still be enhanced, however we need to analyse whether our university is marked on the important main ranking lists. For instance, NUPS is not listed on the European higher education ranking because at the time of the evaluation NUPS as such hasn’t existed yet. We are currently working on the application to join this assessment process. We are also putting focus on achieving as good result as possible as well as on improving continuously. Because of its unique structure, NUPS has advantages and disadvantages but I think we need to build on our strenghts. One of our main goals is to participate in international programmes and increase our activity in the relevant fields. Regarding international visibility, it is hard to compare military sciences and international relations even though both have several international activities. On university level we seek to strengthen and increase our international involvement in all areas.
How is the mobility inclination among the students and staff at NUPS?
Gy. Ny. Our lecturer mobility is really good! We are among the top of universities of the Tempus Public Foundation’s list, but we still have work to do as far as the practical utilization of these results is concerned. We have to great a way so they can incorporate the knowledge they acquired abroad into the working of this institution. As far as student mobility is concerned, unfortunately we are at the bottom of the list. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, credit acceptance does not work sufficiently yet. We are working on reducing this double workload those students that go abroad for a semester have. The aim is to gather new experiences and know-how, but if one has to – in parallel – also learn the material here, then we do not achieve the desired results. Another mobility restricting feature is the rigidness of service branches. The whole process is more flexible for the civilian faculties. Of course, we cannot change this rigidity. One the positive side, we can also mention in respect the service faculties, that there are international opportunities that only they can use, such as NATO partnership possibilities. I think it is really important to know our possibilities, and NUPS’s international presence has to be strengthened with that in mind, while also making sure that we achieve our strategic aims.
What do you think could further encourage university citizens to participate in mobility programs?
Gy. Ny. Next to giving information, we also have to create a mutually beneficial situation: the aims is to help building of the university, and the acquisition of knowledge during the mobility. For student mobility, solving the before mentioned credit acceptance issues is a vitally important task, and we have already started professional talks about it. Educational regulations state that when 75% is matching, the subject has to be accepted, but it is left for the institutions to decide from what percentage they may accept a course. We proposed that subjects could be accepted even under the 75% matching rule, if the student participates in international mobility, and there is at least 40% matching. As I have previously mentioned, there are already professional meetings about this, and if it gets implemented then I believe that it would greatly help our students, and would encourage them to take part in mobility programs more.
The international accreditation takes place under your command. How is this process going? What are the experiences so far?
Gy. Ny. NUPS is member of the European University Association and last year the university asked the association to conduct the qualification process. As a first step, we had to prepare a self-assessment document, which was the responsibility of the self-assessment workgroup. I have become the head of this group before my current assignment. The document was reviewed by the university’s boards then it was submitted to EUA. Following the submission, international experts visited the university twice where four experts from the association conducted interviews to compare the self-assessment document with the university’s functioning. They talked to the members of the self-assessment workgroup, leaders, lecturers and students. They also analysed how the university is functioning and how is it related to the European standards. The preliminary results have shown that NUPS operates well in many areas, however they have drafted a proposal for enhancement. We are currently waiting for the final written feedback which will supposedly arrive at the end of July or at the beginning of August.
In parallel, we are preparing our application to another international organisation which is the Magna Charta Universitatum, the alliance of universities throughout the world. This application required a recommendation from the current members. Based on the preliminary feedback, the cooperation agreement on our admission will be signed in autumn. In 2018, NUPS will therefore become member of the European University Association and if the Magna Charta Universitatum.
You are the head of specialisation of the Public Policy and Management master programme which will be launched this autumn. What is worth knowing about this programme?
Gy. Ny. With this MA degree programme, NUPS as well as the Faculty of Science of Public Governance and Administration embrace a new field of science which, in addition to public administration and political science, integrates economic science as well into the training. This is a two-year long MA programme that is focusing on economy and finance and provides a degree in economics.