Ten years ago, on March 16th, 2011, the Parliament decided to establish Ludovika - University of Public Service. In the desperate struggle against the pandemic and in the silence of our National Holiday of March 15th, it’s worth remembering the day on which the founding decision by the Hungarian State was made.
One month after the establishment of the University, the Parliament adopted the Basic Law of Hungary, which entered into force January 1st, 2012. Ludovika - University of Public Service also started operating on that day. The parallel story is not by accident. The University was established as an emblematic institution for the new state building, which started in 2010, and for strengthening public trust in the state organization. The economic conditions for university establishment seemed unfavourable, as in 2011 Hungary was vulnerable due to the extremely high (external) public debt, and the indicators of state redistribution, economic growth and competitiveness were weaker compared to the other three Visegrád 4 countries. In terms of unemployment, we have also been on top in Europe. The Széll Kálmán Plan and the New Széchenyi Plan were launched, which were the comprehensive reconstruction strategies of the government. The establishment of the University was a brave historic move in 2011, due to the difficult circumstances. It was a sign that the country, dedicated to development, must establish a university despite the difficult times, because a university is a good investment in times of crisis. This University was a demonstration of a return to political confidence in public service. Meanwhile, in higher education, 2011 was also a year of heated conceptual debates and preparations for a new sectoral law. State resources have also declined in higher education. In 2011, Ludovika was a forerunner of today’s university model change. By decision of the Parliament, at Ludovika a Maintenance Board was set up, to which the three maintaining ministers (public administration, home affairs and defence) delegated one expert each. The strategic direction of the University was based on the division of labour between this Board, the Rector and the Senate. Our University resigned from the “student per capita” funding system for higher education and received only operating support from the state. At the time of its founding, it was almost 30% less than in previous years, but it was also an indication of the time: Look at the leaders of this University, who can do more from less!
According to the preamble to Act XXXVI of 2011, adopted on 16 March, „the National Assembly, recognising that within the public service the strengthening of vocation and expertise in the staff of public administration, law enforcement, national defence and national security services requires coordinated and planned youth training. Furthermore to prevent civil servants leaving the public service, and to ensure efficient work for society, a training system supporting the public service career model should be operated, intending to place higher education in the public service on a solid institutional basis”. Over the past ten years, thousands of young people studying law enforcement, public administration, defence, disaster management and national security have studied together and graduated from the University of Public Service. Tens of thousands of public officials have studied and are studying in the vocational training programs. The meaning of joint education has been that there should be no isolated professional monocultures in the public service, but the supply of officers and civil servants should be represented by cooperative and open generations, capable of interpreting and operating the state on a broad spectrum. The community of tutors of the faculties set up from the predecessor institutions, the joint venture of civilians, officers, and generals has created a diverse work culture.
Time has justified the founding decision of the National Assembly. In 2021 the name of the University of Public Service means “university quality”, as well as young officers, public servant and diplomat candidates, engineers and new doctors of science. In 2011 only the reviving „reason of state” and the ruinous Ludovika main building were rebuilt together. Anyone entering the headquarters of Ludovika - University of Public Service today is imbued with the feeling that he/she stands in the strong “castle” of the Hungarian state, where our common history, the public service of the new generation and modern science meet. Current and former university students are taking part in the military and law enforcement professional activities introduced during the pandemic, just as they have held their ground in border protection since the start of mass migration. In these months the medium-term development of Hungarian universities will start, which is also part of the relaunch of the economy. We hope that the University of Public Service will continue to receive the same government support and public trust as in the first ten years - thanks to the founding decision of the National Assembly, which was made 10 years ago.
Author: Norbert Kis, Vice-Rector for Institutional Development