Ethnic Hungarian higher education students in four Central European countries

Principal investigator: Zsuzsanna Sütő

Period: 2019 -

Research questions and objectives:

In my examinations, I deal with the higher educational efficiency of minority Hungarian students. My goal is to test the aforementioned efficiency of minority Hungarian students to find which factors (within the institution and without) aid in its detection, and to determine how these factors fit into the currently predominant theoretical approaches in educational research. During my tests, I seek for my research to follow the path on which higher educational efficiency is not identified only by numbers on standardized testing measuring abilities, skills and knowledge, but also where they work out the complex indicator of efficiency, and adding to the mix the willingness to study further, dropout, attitudes in connection with school visitation and study work, and the like.

Research history:

My current research plan was preceded by years of tests. In my analyses up to this point, I have investigated the social backgrounds of Hungarian minority higher education students of the four large regions, their courses of study, as well as their intra- and intergenerational relationships. I studied their motivations for choice of institution and major, their devotion to their studies along with their professional plans for the future. Moreover, I gained insight into their employee expectations, their views and religiosity as regards their life goals and generalized trust.

Research methods:

For our analysis, we used an international student database called Institutional Effects on Student Achievement (IESA). We analyzed data on 1,739 Hungarian students from 13 institutions of higher education in five different countries of Central Europe (Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, and Slovakia).

Research results in 2019:

The results of higher educational efficiency tests done up to now show, women are more efficient, and living in the city is also a supporting factor. In contrast to this, the more advantageous economic situation is a a counter. The neutral variables are parents’ educational degrees and the attributes of prior schooling. Yet, among the sample of relationship networks, the student-teacher personal contact has a truly strong, also statistically relevant effect.

Previous research results:

I concluded that there is no uniformity among the various countries regarding ethnic Hungarian students’ family backgrounds. Minority institutions are very open socially: over three-quarters of their students will be first-generation intellectuals. Parents’ position in the labor market is the best in Slovakia and the worst in Serbia, which correlates with these states’ economic situation. Students in Slovakia have the best positions in all aspects of financial status. The labor market position of parents and economic status of students’ families was better in countries where minority Hungarians assimilated more. Hungarian minority groups have a great deal in common with respect to their education choices. The opportunity to enroll in mother-tongue higher education takes priority among them. Despite Hungarian families’ relatively low financial status, the number of students who have private lessons is high in every region, although students of denominational secondary schools are less in need of extra lessons. It is in Ukraine and Romania where church schools give the state the most help to bear the burden of Hungarian-language public education. Ethnic Hungarian students are not at all unwilling to gain work experience, but paradoxically, the more well-to-do students from Hungary and Slovakia do more paid work, whereas students from the poorer regions tend to do more voluntary work. This may be one of the reasons why students’ ideas of their future work show similar patterns, and why the altruistic work concept—the essence of which is sacrifice for the common good—is ranked the highest by students from Serbia and Romania, and the second-highest by students in Ukraine. Last, but not least, there is a stronger church-related religious identity and more active religious practice in regions with multiple denominations, which suggests that religiosity is made more active and efficient by a multiconfessional, rather than a merely multiethnic, environment.


Pusztai, G., & Márkus, Z. (2019). Paradox of assimilation among indigenous higher education students in four central European countries. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education13(4), 201-216.

Pusztai Gabriella; Márkus, Zsuzsanna: Hungarian ethnic minority higher education students in different countries of Central Europe. In Domenech, J; Merello, P; de la, Poza E; Blazquez, D (eds.) 4th International Conference on Higher Education Advances Editorial Universitat Politècnica de València, (2018) pp. 1633-1643.

Márkus, Zsuzsanna: Teacher education students in minority and majority education In: Pusztai, Gabriella; Ceglédi, Tímea (szerk.) Professional Calling in Higher Education: Challenges of Teacher Education in the Carpathian Basin, Nagyvárad, Románia : Új Mandátum, (2015) pp. 76-85.

Press coverage:

Book launch: Pusztai, Gabriella; Márkus, Zsuzsanna (eds.): Szülőföldön magyarul: Iskolák és diákok a határon túl, [On native soil in Hungarian: Schools and Students in the neighbouring countries] Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetemi Kiadó (2017) , 334 p. ISBN: 9789633186350