KAPTAY, George, BENKO, Z. Maria
Hungary-3515, Miskolc, Egyetemvaros, University of Miskolc,
Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering
The history of the Hungarian higher education on metallurgical engineering started at Selmecbánya (Schemnitz in German or Banska Stiavnica in Slovakian), in 1735, which was the second technical institute of the world. Since then each year new students were enrolled on this branch, although the “Academie” has been transferred first to Sopron, and then to Miskolc. Today the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering is the part of a real “universitas”, including 6 faculties, half of them being not engineering faculties. There are more than 10,000 students in the campus of the University of Miskolc today. The Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering is the smallest one with its 300 students.
The political changes, followed by the industrial crisis of the late 80-s and 90-s in Central-Eastern Europe, especially in Hungary, lead to the decreased interest of young people in studying metallurgy. In order to make our educational system more attractive for potential students, its structure has been re-organized in 1992. The experience gained during the last 7 years are discussed in this paper, and the re-organized, new educational structure is presented.
2. The recent history of the educational structure of the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering
The history of curricula and educational structures of the branch of metallurgical engineering from Selmecbánya to Miskolc has been reviewed elsewhere (see References). Let us make a brief overlook on the recent history of the curricula and structural developments at our Faculty.
From 1972 to 1992 the training in the branch of metallurgical engineering was organized in the following 4 sub-branches:
Metallurgy (including metallurgy of ferrous and non-ferrous metals)
As one can see from Figure 1, since 1970 the number of students had gradually decreased on the Faculty, due to gradual economical and psychological changes in the Hungarian society. The minimum in Figure 1 is situated around the time, when the political changes in the country, coinciding with the worldwide crisis of the metallurgical industry were taking place. As a result of the new political course, the politics of higher education was modified as well, and the so called “normative financing” of different branches of higher education all over the country was introduced by the Ministry of Education. The “normative financing” system meant, that all the expenses of the given faculty had to be covered by the amount, transferred from the Ministry proportional to the number of students learning in the given year on branches taught at the given faculty. Therefore the decrease in number of students might have lead even to the disappearance of the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Miskolc, and therefore in the whole country, as the Faculty suddenly appeared to be a “deficit enterprise”. Fortunately, by that time the non-technical faculties and branches have been established at the University, which helped together with the large technical Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and do help even today to the smallest faculty of the university to “survive”. On the other hand, the leaders of the faculty realized that changes in the structure should be made in order to stabilize our faculty from the purely economical point of view.
Two strategies by the leaders of the Faculty were chosen as ways of survival. First, two new branches were introduced and accredited at the Faculty: in 1989 the branch “Engineer-Physicist” had been started, as a joint-venture with the Eötvös University Budapest, while in 1993 the branch “Materials Engineering” had been started. As one can see from Fig.2, these two new branches helped to increase the total number of students to the level of about 300 by 1996. It should be also pointed, that the branch of Materials Engineering, although introduced later, appeared to be more successful in attracting students, compared to the branch of Engineer-Physicist.
Figure 1. The number of students at the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Miskolc between 1970 and 1998
Fig.2. The number of students studying in the 3 different branches of the Faculty of Metallurgical Enginnering of the University of Miskolc between 1988 and 1998
As the second way of “survival”, the structure of the branch of metallurgical engineering had been developed as well, in order to provide knowledge also in more fashionable disciplines, which were thought to be more attractive to the students. As a result, since 1992 the students attending the branch of Metallurgical Engineering could choose among one of the following sub-branches:
Metallurgy of ferrous metals (MFM)
Metallurgy of non-ferrous metals (MNFM)
Metal Forming (MF)
Power Engineering (PE)
Environmental Protection (EP)
Quality Management (QM) – introduced one year later, in 1993
The number of diplomas issued in the above sub-branches are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1. Number of diplomas issued at different sub-branches
of the branch of Metallurgical Engineering between 1995 and 2001**
* abbreviations of sub-branches see above
** number of diplomas issued between 1999 and 2001 are estimated based on the number of students on the 3rd – 4th - 5th years of their study.
The following conclusions can be drawn based on Table 1:
3. The new educational structure introduced in 1999 for the branch of metallurgical engineering
The new management of the Faculty (appointed on 1st November, 1998) has developed a new educational structure, optimizing the positive and negative effects of the introduction of the new sub-courses in 1992. The new structure has been approved by the Council of the Faculty in February 1999, and will be introduced from 1st September, 1999. Due to differences in the two structures, the previous educational structure will be applied for students starting their 4th and 5th years in September 1999, while the new structure will be applied for younger students, only.
The new educational structure was invented to reach the two following goals at the same time:
The above two contradictory requirements to the new educational structure was optimized by introducing a 2-level specialization, in the following way:
The new educational structure is shown in Table 2, while the new schedule is shown in Table 3. As one can see from Table 2, some new complementary specialties have been introduced, and now the students can choose one of the following specialties:
As one can see, all the above specialties are designed in a way, that all of them can provide complementary knowledge to the students, attending any of the sub-branches of metallurgy, foundry and metal forming. The similar new educational structure has also been introduced to the branch of materials engineering, due to the fact, that engineers producing polymers or ceramics need similar complementary knowledge to those, producing metals.
The economical and political changes taking place in Hungary between 1988 - 1992, coincided with the world-wide crisis of the metallurgical industry forced the leaders of the Faculty of Metallurgical Engineering of the University of Miskolc to work out surviving strategies. As a result, new branches at the Faculty (Engineer-Physicist and Materials Engineer) were accredited, and also complementary, “fashionable” sub-branches to the branch of metallurgical engineering were introduced. The new management of the faculty faced the contradictory effects of the new sub-branches. On the one hand, the new sub-branches indeed increased the interest of young people in choosing metallurgy, but as a result, young engineers were missing the special knowledge of metallurgical technologies on the other hand, and this fact has been criticized by industrial leaders.
As a compromise, a 2-level specialization has been recently introduced both to the branch of metallurgical engineering and materials engineering. Starting in September 1999, the students-metallurgists will be specialized in:
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