Digital technologies have transformed the way people interact, work and learn. In higher education, the digitalisation of teaching and learning, research and engagement has been underway for decades but with wide variation across and within higher education systems. The forced transition to fully online activities resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been particularly pronounced in higher education as most institutions across OECD countries closed their physical premises for prolonged periods of time. This switch to digital higher education revealed the ability of higher education institutions (HEIs) to ensure the continuity of their activities but also showed that much work remains to be done to ensure digital technologies are effectively used to promote quality, efficiency and equity in higher education.

The Hungarian government has placed special emphasis on the digitalisation of higher education in recent years, as outlined in its recent national strategies, namely in the Digital Education Strategy and the Shifting of Gears in Higher Education Mid-Term Policy Strategy (2016-2030). Both strategies have positioned digitalisation as a key driver to develop a modern, competitive and attractive higher education system. The Hungarian government has also invested in digital infrastructure, especially in expanding high-speed Internet access. In parallel, many HEIs, their staff and students, have increasingly adopted digital practices, with a significant increase in digital technology use resulting from the pandemic.

Despite these steps towards a digitalised higher education system, gaps in access to suitable digital infrastructure and equipment remain. Likewise, the use of digital technologies has not been accompanied by a systematic updating of pedagogical practices and institutional policies. The adoption of learning management systems is wide but not universal, and productive uses of digital technologies and the data they generate, such as learning analytics, are in their early stages. Higher education data systems, while they offer a detailed view of the system’s features and outcomes, do not currently permit the monitoring of digitalisation in HEIs.

The project “Supporting the Digital Transformation of Higher Education in Hungary” offers an assessment of the current state of digitalisation in higher education in Hungary, identifies policy recommendations to strengthen the current policy framework supporting digitalisation and provides suggestions to help Hungarian authorities and stakeholders develop a monitoring framework and indicators to measure the digitalisation of the higher education system.

The analysis and recommendations contained in the report are based on analyses of the Hungarian higher education system, international examples of policies and practices supporting the development and measurement of digitalisation in higher education, and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. Engagement included interviews and group discussions with higher education stakeholders and the implementation of an online stakeholder consultation survey to hear from higher education students, staff and leaders.

The project is a collaboration between the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM), the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills.

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