Reader’s guide

The reader’s guide provides information on the HEInnovate conceptual framework and online tool. It presents the methodology used in the Hungarian country review and concludes with a brief overview of the chapters in this report.


The HEInnovate framework

Conceptual framework

Higher education is changing across European Union and OECD countries and there is a growing expectation from policy makers and society that higher education institutions (HEIs) should evolve into a new type of economic actor. Entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education are no longer only associated with business start-ups and technology transfer but are increasingly understood as core elements of a procedural framework for how organisations and individuals behave. For example, in how links between teaching and research are created and nurtured, how societal engagement and knowledge exchange are organised, how resources are built and managed for effective partnerships, and how new entrepreneurs are supported.

Transforming (traditional) HEIs into entrepreneurial and innovative organisations is neither an easy nor a straightforward endeavour. It requires commitment of resources into areas of change and high impact which, in turn, needs to build on a strategic collaboration between policy makers, HEI leaders, staff, students, and partners in the local economy. The aim of HEInnovate is to stimulate and contribute to this strategic collaboration with a guiding framework that describes the innovative and entrepreneurial higher education institution through a set of good practice criteria that has been distilled from an ongoing analysis of current HEI practices across European Union and OECD countries.

HEInnovate was developed collaboratively by the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission and the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Local Development and Tourism of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Also contributing was a network of innovation and entrepreneurship professors and experts from across European Union countries. The stimulus for HEInnovate was the University-Business Forum in March 2011, an annual event organised by the European Commission for HEIs and their key strategic partners. Delegates expressed a need for support and guidance in implementing practices that will help them become more innovative and entrepreneurial institutions.

A working definition was agreed which describes the innovative and entrepreneurial HEI as “designed to empower students and staff to demonstrate enterprise, innovation and creativity in teaching, research, and engagement with business and society. Its activities are directed to enhance learning, knowledge production and exchange in a highly complex and changing societal environment; and are dedicated to create public value via processes of open engagement”. How this can be translated into daily practice in HEIs is described through 37 statements, which are organised within the following seven dimensions (please refer to the Annex for the full HEInnovate guiding framework):

  1. Leadership and Governance

  2. Organisational Capacity: Funding, People and Incentives

  3. Entrepreneurial Teaching and Learning

  4. Preparing and Supporting Entrepreneurs

  5. Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration

  6. The Internationalised Institution

  7. Measuring the Impact

HEInnovate online tool

A freely available online self-assessment tool ( covering the seven dimensions of the “entrepreneurial university” was developed for HEIs to organise a participatory stock-taking exercise to review achievements and identify areas for improvement. It is possible to involve a wide range of stakeholders (leadership, staff, academic and administrative staff, key partner organisations etc.), and to repeat the exercise over time. Users can choose to remain anonymous and data is accessible only to users. The seven dimensions are available in all EU Member State languages.

Explanations of the statements, a growing number of cases studies, multimedia material and workshop facilitation tools, make the online tool inspirational and very user-friendly. Users can work with all dimensions or choose dimensions that are most relevant for their purpose. For example, users are likely to choose “Organisational Capacity” and “Knowledge Exchange” if the purpose is to (re)organise collaboration with external stakeholders.

An instant reporting function generates a snapshot of the status quo and potential areas of change in the chosen dimensions, comparing the rating of the user/user group to the global/HEI mean. The report points users to guidance material and case study examples with information on concrete actions that HEIs can undertake to enhance their performance in the respective dimension(s). Results are stored and can be compared over time.

There are various examples of how HEIs have been using the HEInnovate online tool. Several HEIs have been using it to organise a creative consultation process around their institutional strategy (e.g. Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK), to design new cross-faculty education programmes (e.g. University of Aveiro in Portugal), for the re‐organisation of entrepreneurship support infrastructure (Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland), or for the organisation of knowledge exchange activities (e.g. University of Ruse in Bulgaria).

HEInnovate country review methodology

The seven dimensions and good practice statements are also used for policy and system reviews at the regional and country levels. The aim of these reviews is to provide a roadmap for strengthening the innovative and entrepreneurial higher education institution. Following a peer-review approach, involving policy makers, HEI leaders, academic and administrative staff members, and researchers from other countries, key areas of strength and areas for improvement are identified and analysed. Recommendations are presented for policy measures that can be implemented by national and sub-national governments, as well as for actions that HEIs can take to act upon opportunities and overcome barriers. The reviews also help to identify and examine examples of good practice, which may have been below the radar of policy makers and HEI leaders and thus provide valuable learnings for the higher education system in the country and beyond.

To date, HEInnovate country reviews have been undertaken in Bulgaria (2014), Ireland (2015-16), Poland (2015-16), Hungary (2015-16), and the Netherlands (2016-17).

Method applied in the country-level review in Hungary

The HEInnovate country review of Hungary was a collaborative effort between the Local Economic and Employment Development Programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission (DG EAC), the Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities, and the Tempus Public Foundation. The Ministry of National Economy and the Hungarian Rector’s Conference participated in the review steering group. The methodology used in the Hungary review was the same as in other HEInnovate reviews and includes the steps described below.

1. Selection of case study HEIs

The selection of HEIs to be covered in the study visits was undertaken by the Ministry of Human Capacities and the Tempus Public Foundation Hungary in consultation with the OECD and the European Commission. Several factors were considered during the selection of HEIs, including type of institution and academic focus (e.g. general university, applied sciences university, etc.), size (e.g. number of students) and location (e.g. rural, urban). Applications were sought from HEIs to participate in the review and subsequently the Ministry of Human Capacities and the OECD jointly selected five higher education institutions for an in-depth study. These were Debrecen University, Semmelweis University, Széchenyi István University, Szent István University, and the Eszterházy Károly University of Applied Sciences.

2. Background report and kick-off workshop

A background report was prepared. It contains information on the Hungarian higher education system, as well as profiles of the HEIs and regions that were included in the study visit. Material from the background report has been integrated into this report.

A kick-off workshop for the project was held in Budapest on 7 December 2015. It was organised by the Ministry of Human Capacities and the Tempus Public Foundation Hungary together with the OECD and the European Commission. Representatives of each of the five HEIs selected for the study visits, the Ministry of the National Economy, the Rectors Conference, and other national-level higher education stakeholders attended the meeting.

The purpose of the workshop was to familiarise the participants with the HEInnovate tool, the review method, and to identify the following HEInnovate dimensions as focus areas of the review: Organisational Capacity, Preparing and Supporting Entrepreneurs, Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration. A representative of the OECD Secretariat presented the HEInnovate country-level review methodology and outlined the expectations for participating HEIs. The European Commission presented the HEInnovate tool and explained how the HEIs could use and benefit from it.

3. Study visits

An international review team, led by the OECD Secretariat, completed a nine-day country visit to Hungary. During the visit, the international review team undertook one-day study visits to the above mentioned five case study HEIs to meet with rectors and vice‐rectors, deans, professors, career offices, technology transfer offices, business incubators, student associations, student and staff start-up companies, students taking entrepreneurship courses and alumni. Information on challenges in the current approach to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship in and through higher education and opportunities for improvement was systematically gathered through a series of individual interviews, focus groups and roundtable meetings.

4. HEI Leader Survey

An online survey of HEI leaders was used to complement the information obtained in the background report and the study visits. The survey was sent to all 53 state and non-state HEIs in Hungary. The survey was conducted in Hungarian and English and HEIs could complete it between 20 June 2016 and 3 November 2016.

The online survey was based on the HEInnovate framework and contained seven sections. The questionnaire asked about i) the strategic directions of the HEI, ii) management of human and financial resources, iii) teaching and learning environment, iv) current practices in knowledge exchange, v) current practices in internationalisation, vi) current practices in entrepreneurship education, and vii) current practices in business start-up support.

There are 53 accredited HEIs in Hungary, of which 28 are universities (21 state-owned), 7 universities of applied sciences (5 state-owned), and 18 colleges of education (3 state-owned). The survey was sent to the Rector’s offices. Responses were collected between 29/6/2016 and 3/11/2016. The questionnaire was available in Hungarian and English languages. A total of 28 HEIs completed the survey, including all five case study HEIs. Of the 28 responses, 15 are universities, 6 universities of applied sciences and 7 colleges of education. For the analysis in the report the colleges of education were grouped together. The survey response rate for universities is 54% and 52% for other HEIs; the overall survey response rate is 53%.

5. Report

This report was prepared with inputs from the international review team and the local review co-ordinator, drawing on information gathered during the study visits and the HEI Leader Survey. An interim report summarising key findings and preliminary recommendations was circulated in September 2016 for comments. Written feedback on observations from the study visits and suggested actions were sent to the case study HEIs.

A draft report was presented and discussed in an interactive workshop in Budapest on 29 November 2016. The workshop was attended by representatives of the case study and other Hungarian HEIs, the Ministry of Human Capacities, the Tempus Public Foundation, the Ministry of the National Economy, and the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference. The workshop was used to discuss and refine the review findings and recommendations, and to collectively specify possible priority actions and discuss how they would be undertaken Following the workshop, the OECD Secretariat finalised the report, taking into account written feedback and contributions made in the workshop.

The content of this report

Chapter 1 provides an overview of the Hungarian higher education system and highlights key challenges and opportunities resulting from recent policy developments. The chapter also describes the multiple roles of HEIs in the country’s research, development and innovation (RDI) and the emerging importance of the third mission in HEIs. Since 2000, there has been a notable shift in the orientation of academic staff towards increased application of research results and greater societal relevance. Changes in national funding and grant schemes, as well as the support for transdisciplinary research on global challenges in EU funding schemes have triggered this change in attitude. Effective HEI internal responses are, however, often lagging behind. Supporting students and graduates in considering venture creation as a viable career path has gained ground but so far, the focus has been more on skills development and less on start-up support.

Chapter 2 presents key review findings and recommendations. The analysis is structured along the HEInnovate framework with its seven dimensions and 37 statements. It covers a holistic approach to supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, including strategy, governance and resources, practices in organising education, research and engagement with business and society, and measuring impact. The analysis is based on a study visit to five institutions and the results of a system-wide HEI Leader survey.

Chapters 3,  4 and 5 expand on the key findings and recommendations presented in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 examines organisational capacity and mission readiness of Hungarian HEIs to support innovation and entrepreneurship. Transforming HEIs, of which many have long-standing traditions, is a long-term process and not free of barriers. Decreasing public funding for higher education is coupled with decreasing numbers of students and graduates. The current administrative and academic structures, core institutional funding and the allocation of staff time are still oriented towards a dual mission model. The chapter explores current strategies and practices to further anchor entrepreneurship, innovation and engagement with the wider world and provides recommendations and learning models on how strategy, resources and support structures can create and sustain synergies across the HEI’s different functions.

Chapter 4 provides an in-depth discussion of the challenges and opportunities and suggests that the HEIs should not shy away from becoming “pioneers” in the sense that they actively promote and reward entrepreneurship, innovation and engagement with the wider world by aligning strategy with operational day-to-day practice. Students, researchers, administrative staff, academics and the HEI leadership, as well as the general public, lend increasing support to the HEI’s role in enhancing knowledge exchange with a general trend towards the Knowledge Society. The chapter explores current strategies and practices to organise knowledge exchange across the HEI and provides learning models on effective support structures.

Chapter 5 reviews entrepreneurship support in HEIs. Education activities that provide for a confluence of theory and practice are an ideal environment to nurture innovation and entrepreneurship. In the classroom, however, it often happens that theory takes over, leaving little room for experiential learning. Proximity to scientific knowledge and this type of support is often the reason why student start-ups want to stay as close as possible to their academic environment. The chapter explores current strategies and practices to support entrepreneurship in HEIs and provides learning models on how best to involve students and effectively embed support measures offered by the HEI within the wider local start-up support ecosystem.