It should be a great importance for a member state of the European Union to be familiar with the institutions, decision-making processes and be aware of the major scholarly debates in history, political science, political economy in relation to the EU. Yet the disciplines of European Studies still lag considerably behind other fields of study in Hungary and most of Hungarian higher institutions fail to provide world class education and to produce internationally competitive research in the field of European studies. It is mainly due to the fact that the faculties of the universities that have been offering EU related subjects since the 1990s have not changed significantly their methodologies and tools in teaching European studies: passive information transferring has remained the mainstream approach in this field. There is, however an increased interest among students in issues of integration, including subjects of good governance, law, political economy, lobbying and policy making in the EU. Those students wish to pursue careers either at Hungarian ministries and public institutions directly involved in EU coordination or at EU institutions. Thus, there is an urgent need for fostering high-class academic teaching with a renewed approach and modified methodology in EU studies.
Responding to this demand, in February 2015 the National University of Public Service (NUPS) launched a new Faculty; the Faculty of International and European Studies and established the Department of European Studies (DES) with the aim of promoting teaching and research activities in the field of EU studies. The Department has a special focus on educating and training those students who wish to become active players in the field of public affairs or public service at local, regional, national and European levels and who wish to pursue successful careers in EU institutions or in other international organisations.
The education and training portfolio of the Faculty is keen to be unique and to add special values in the field of teaching EU studies. The aim of the education is to enable students to identify public policy problems, carry out research and scientific analysis and formulate policy initiatives and they have to understand the country-specific peculiarities as well. The courses (2 courses/ academic year) offered in this module are interdisciplinary in their nature.
The mission of both, the Faculty and particularly the DES is to promote EU studies in its degree programs, and with this module specifically in Master of International Public Service program.
Our overall objectives are derived from the labour market. Given the increased interest of the young Hungarians to pursue EU – related public affairs and public service careers, we are dedicated to provide all necessary academic and professional knowledge and capacity they need.
Following from this, the objectives of DES are the followings:
Nevertheless, we intend to provide valuable deliverables, e.g. a virtual platform – a microsite on the webpage of the NUPS - and peer reviewed articles by the key staff as set in the work-program. Moreover, we also intend to include other activities in the module to enhance its practice-oriented character. We plan to organise an “EU public policy entrepreneurship” workshop and public lectures on current policy challenges of the EU. With these events we try to attract a wider audience, not only students, but young professionals at the early stage of their careers. With the tailor-made courses offered in relation to European public policy, the curriculum of public service becomes more EU focused that can ensure a better representation of EU dimension in their program. Additionally with our events, we also plan to foster the dialogue of academia and the experts and professional networks.
The DES is engaged to increase the interest of students in EU policy-making at all levels of European governance. Thus, the main indicator of our achievement mid- and long-term is the higher level of employability of Hungarians at both lower and higher rank public service positions. Thus, during the three years of implementation we plan to regularly consult with employers (ministries, public institutions, EU institutions etc.) in order get information about their required skills and knowledge. The feedbacks from the consultations are going to be integrated in the curriculum in order to fine-tune the content and the methods of our module.