Academic Differences I Noticed in Budapest📝👨🏼‍🏫

By Isabelle Lydon, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

On my year abroad, I attended Eötvös Lorànd University (ELTE) in Budapest. ELTE is considered one of the best universities in Hungary and is in the top 2% of universities worldwide. It consists of 9 faculties and has over 20,317 courses. They have 528 Erasmus partner universities and luckily UOM was one of them. I study Law at UOM, so I was a part of the Faculty of Law at ELTE which has to have been one of the most stunning university buildings I’ve ever seen. 

The Faculty of Law at ELTE is one of the oldest faculties at the university. It was established in 1667 and is the place of higher education for nearly 5000 students pursuing their studies in Law and Political Sciences. The Faculty of Law has a huge range of law and political science courses on offer for both Hungarian students and Erasmus students. They are also offered in different languages e.g., Hungarian, French, German and Italian. There were so many more interesting and unique modules on offer than at UOM and I’m so thankful I was able to take some of these because I learnt things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to at university. For example, I took a course on ‘Transitional Justice’ that I found extremely insightful. The course was basically an overview of how countries transitioned to peace after previously been war torn and governed by an authoritarian regime. This really opened my eyes to the, actually quite recent, conflicts and atrocities that have occurred in Europe. 

The most obvious academic difference between ELTE and UOM is the class sizes. Whilst in UOM we are used to big lecture halls full of students, the class sizes at ELTE did not go beyond around 15-20 students. I think this is helpful as it keeps you a lot more focussed in the classroom because you can be easily caught off guard by the professor for not paying attention. I also found it to be more interactive and engaging and it is helpful in making friends as it forces you to speak to other people in your class. 

Another thing ELTE had to offer was numerous American modules from visiting lecturers from the USA. I for one find American law really interesting so this was definitely appealing to me. In total I took 5 American modules across the whole year. They were both online and in person. I learnt a lot about the American Constitution and Civil Liberties in the United States. My favourite module was American Trial Advocacy which consisted of learning the trial procedure for a criminal trial in America. The visiting lecturer from the University of Tennessee taught us how he performed trials and what he believed was the most effective way. This course was my favourite because not only was the subject matter engaging, the second part of the class was that we had to write and perform our own trial. As part of the class, we were given a criminal case of aggravated assault and the class was split into the prosecution and defence. On a weekly basis, after learning the subject matter, we were given a task to write our own opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing statements. This went towards the final exam which was where we tried the case in teams in front of our class. Not only was this a unique learning experience for me but it was also an incredible mooting opportunity as an aspiring lawyer. 

In regards to exams, a lot of mine were online which is similar to UOM. I personally prefer online exams as it’s not so much a test of memory but how you can apply information. I had some ‘coursework’ based subjects also, but these were much more liberal than UOM. For example, in my criminology module in first semester the exam was a 3000-word essay on any topic we wanted so long as it related to criminology. In a way this was useful because you could research any topic you wanted and found the most interesting. However, it did render the classes a little redundant. I also had some in person exams which was definitely interesting as I haven’t done an in-person exam since GCSE’s. I didn’t find this to be too hard as it was just an MCQ and a short essay. In my Commercial Dispute Settlement modules, we had a choice of exam: an essay, presentation or in person exam. I chose the presentation. I did a short presentation in a group about the comparisons of arbitration law in the UK and Hungary and this was 100% of my grade. 

In Hungary, the grading system is 1-5 (1 being fail and 5 being ‘excellent’). Converting this to the grading system we use in the UK, a 5 is actually slightly higher than a 1st or an equivalent to an A. However, a 4 would be equivalent to a C which in a way is annoying because you would expect it to be a B, but it isn’t. 

Overall, I do think that the education system is quite different in terms of exams and class sizes, and, in my opinion, I found it to be a lot easier and laid back, perhaps this is because it was Erasmus modules, so they were not grading us as harshly as the Hungarian students. 

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