Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. Februar 2006
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"Universitär" means to be universal -
even if it is no longer (only) a question of universities

Sándor CSEH (West Hungarian University Györ, Hungary)


Our view is always primarily focused on the future - this is the case in all of the important areas of life: in love, hope, religion, work - thus it should also be the case for education. For this reason alone - if one will, a restructuring of university education (and thus of all education) is actually taking place in the countries of the European Union. The project is called the "Bologna-Resolution 1999". My country, Hungary, is eminently suited to adopt this process. Thus it is no hardship at all for us to accept this resolution and the accompanying process of change as the actual future of education in Hungary. "Bologna" itself wants to adapt to something - and to be sure to the "demands of a transcontinental pragmatism". But the law also involves a kind of shockwave to the traditional universitas. When these changes are occurring, everyone has to recognize ultimately that the traditional, in certain respects, perhaps, "aristocratic" ways formerly employed in the shaping and research of knowledge can no longer be considered as adequate guidelines for the organization of schools or universities.

Under the new system the universities will emerge rather as collecting points of talent, social capabilities and information. The so-called "Grundfach" or basic course of study will be the new unifying aspect of education, of knowledge and finally of the person. This approach requires stability and determination of the students as well as also their flexibility: They can always - above all, however, while still in the process of their university studies - reformulate their goals, even change them completely without suffering any essential loss of time, money and energy. Under such circumstances the resumes in the future will no longer make it appear that an 18-year-old, when 80, remains the pensioner, or even the deceased, of his originally designated major, because there will absolutely no longer be anything like an "original major". Instead there will be majors or rather major directions, which will express the actual conditions of the society, the economy and indeed of the human being. This is surely necessary, even if in this new system the universities are not the primary concern. There will be no "self-serving of the university", no traditional structuring of education, but these institutions will nevertheless be retained. However, even if there will still continue to be universities, the universal forms of organization will still prevail for teaching, for learning and for personal and social forms of communication between the faculties and campuses. How are these ways of organization to look? To that question no one can give a definitive answer. The only certainty is that these modes of operation, these universal gestures, must be varied, multi-layered: complex and open.

This is not the first time in our culture that we are hearing the demand for taking complexity into account. Unquestionably, however, we need a different kind of complexity today than yesterday, the day before yesterday or than the ancient times of the past. The old times were beautiful, but the q uality of our existence naturally depends upon which profile our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren, etc. will be able to demonstrate. And so let us move on? But how exactly? The almost 3000-year-old E uropean culture could at an outstanding moment, among others, also display a complex education of the human being: in the Gymnasien of the ancient Greeks the mind as well as the body was fostered. Today sport constitutes a solid component of life and of the almost cult orientation of young people, so that the missing element of the strived and hoped for complexity, cannot found there. Therefore, where and when can this desired complexity be seen to be deficient ?

For example, in a short and particular story about the introduction of the new education, that is to say, the new university system, in Hungary in recent years. In the problem of what exactly the introduction of the new pedagogical system into the new structure of the school meant for the Ministry and for the accrediting authorities. This story is, however, so particular, that I will not relate it to you in detail. Let it suffice, that for a time it was questionable whether such future teachers, who instruct the very small children in the elementary schools, would find their entitled place in the new Hungarian educational system, mandated on the university level by the Bologna decree. I will now report the result: It is no longer a question that these young people, these students, are entitled to their places in the university. So this matter turned out well, but the reaching this positive result was not easy. The battle was hard fought. The watchfulness of the old pedagogues - entirely in the spirit of the ancient Greeks - was able to (still) prevail. Thus far, we can also say that the universal side of restructuring Europe is in order, and to be sure amid all of the reform activities. The universities - or however we want to call these universal educational institutions - receive their new students from the schools and educate them to be teachers - now just as before.

The universal character of the universities, of the (former) universities of Europe, now no longer means a special kind of central position within the cultural communication, within communication in general. Such a university does not consist only of chairs and institutes. It consists, above all, of computer rooms, of a department of International Relations and not last, the Office of Furthering the Regional Workforce, where one can learn how to develop his life professionally. Otherwise such a university - viewed from the perspective of the students - is "only" the showplace of the activities of young, rather intelligent and goal-oriented people, who will surely not spend their lives in a single place, in a single land.

© Sándor CSEH (West Hungarian University Györ, Hungary)

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For quotation purposes:
Sándor Cseh (West Hungarian University, Hungary): "Universitär" means to be universal - even if it is no longer (only) a question of universities. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005.

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