The Limits of Hungarian Agricultural Education

Kapronczai, István

Keywords: training, agricultural education, consultation, educational farm, employment, Q10, Q18, Q19

The Gazdálkodás agricultural economics journal began a debate in the autumn of 2017. The topic is important, as the role of human capital (Σ qualification) is decisive in the utilisation of technological equipment. When writing the article, we did not highlight the positive aspects, but rather focused on those areas where we have tasks to develop agricultural education and hence also highlighted the complexity of the subject. Our article is not based on specific research. Rather, we synthesised the output published during the debate and other texts related to the topic, attaching our opinion.
In our study, we have shown that the ever-changing social effects set the framework for agricultural education. That is why it makes no sense to use the ‘good practices’ of decades ago as examples. We need to adapt to today’s conditions. We will not be able to change the social environment but must accept it as we plan and construct for the future.
As for the level of students, there is a deteriorating quality in terms of incoming students to universities and colleges, which is similar to trends observed in vocational schools, with students being increasingly less knowledgeable or mentally prepared. The source of the problem can be traced back to families losing sense of their role. The selection system for instructors does not always favour the most talented, hard-working candidates. The problem is increased by the fact that many ‘full time’ instructors have taken on extra jobs to meet their financial needs, which are more in focus than their teaching activities.
Considering the priorities of the training, we have concluded that it is important to focus on the development of skills and creativity. Students need to be prepared for emerging situations, be able to adapt quickly to change and make rapid recovery from stress and shock. We also agreed with those who suggested that the transition to the Bologna system - in the first place due to insufficiently thought-out preparation - caused much confusion in the structure of education. Based on our analysis, the gap between training and practice was the most serious problem.
During the production of the manuscript, we also analysed the research background of agricultural education. Through international comparison we have found that competitive higher education can only be achieved if the trainers themselves take part in high-quality research. Applied research at universities and colleges should be a priority. Using the results of global science centres, local challenges can often only be answered by local agricultural research, which gives universities and colleges a chance. The state instrument system should support the initiatives where educators and researchers can join the producers and / or processors in a consortium and use the research results in practice.
Looking at the organisational and financing background of education, we concluded that in vocational education, in order to improve the professional structure, we need to reconcile labour market needs and labour supply. The most comprehensive practical knowledge can be gained via the schools, their farms and crops. Within a region, institutional links should be established between the local agricultural college or university and other agricultural schools operating in the area.
In the article, we argued for concentrated agrarian higher education. We believe that 3-4 larger agro-universities at different locations across the country could meet the needs of top-level agricultural education. At the same time, the deteriorated infrastructure of higher education institutions is also a concern. During the necessary organisational transformations, it is not advisable to move towards the hierarchy (by way of a ‘central agricultural university’), but towards concentration, cooperation and specialisation.
Examining the relationship between agricultural education and consultation, we have found that consultation services should be open to new directions. As an example, we have mentioned the promotion of access to information. In the operation of information systems, agrarian higher education institutions should be given a greater role.
In the final section of our article, we argued that agricultural education has had serious financing difficulties in its full cross-section over the past decade which cannot be continued.

Full article