“Tradition, knowledge and humility – road to the best 100 universities of the world” was the title of the program of Dr. Béla Merkely, vice-rector, director of The Heart and Vascular Center, forthcoming rector at the public forum organised by the Student Government. After his speech, the forthcoming rector answered all the students’ questions, reacted to their suggestions and comments.

By introducing his program, Dr Merkely stated that it is a common goal and mission, in cooperation with the university’s citizens, to have Semmelweis University be at the forefront on the international map of medical and health sciences, biomedical research and treatment. He recalled that this year we are celebrating our denominator’s, Ignác Semmelweis, 200th birthday and the university will be 250 years old next year. He emphasized that, as the forthcoming rector he sees it as a message value that these remarkable anniversaries coincide with the official date of his inauguration. He also added that Semmelweis brand is a historical trade mark in which the strengths of the six faculties have a great role, however, for the progress it is important to recognise the weaknesses, correct the mistakes and utilize the synergy among the faculties.

By sorting his plans, he pointed at each faculty. Besides the campus development, he highlighted the extension of blocked education at the Faculty of Medicine. Regarding the Faculty of Health Sciences, he claimed the increase of the lecturers’ number and the launch of new English language trainings. The Faculty of Health and Public Services can be the training place of healthcare professionals of the future. In the case of the Faculty of Dentistry, the educational and patient care infrastructure must be developed further and a complex programme is necessary to keep the human resource. For the Faculty of Pharmacy, it is essential to evolve the Hőgyes-Schöpf-Merei own campus, on the basis of which an international pharmacy centre can develop. Representing the spiritual Hungaricum, András Pető Faculty remarkably completes the not too strong rehabilitation approach at our departments, here mainly the development of human resources and infrastructure is necessary – said Dr. Béla Merkely.

One of the most well-known higher education rankings, the Times Higher Education (THE), on which list in 2017 Semmelweis University was among the top 500 – after declaring the evaluation criteria, he mentioned the increase of publication activity as a possibility to progress. He reckoned, by strengthening the translation attitude and approaching the practice and theory to each other, the publication activity can be enhanced. Besides this, in order to intensify the tutor-mentor system, the significant increase of the number of lecturers is also important. He highlighted that his deliberate purpose is that the university will be among the 100 best higher educational institutions in the world.

The central issue of Dr. Béla Merkely’s presentation, which is the most important issue for students, was the structural transformation of education. He emphasised that the theoretical education is on a high level at the university, however, we can step onto the path of development if the practical education approaches the quality of theoretical education and the two areas are built on each other better. As a critique, he drew up that the campus is fragmented and there is a lot of parallelism in the curriculum.

The forthcoming rector sees the breaking points in the increase of the number of lecturers, in the development of infrastructure and in the modernisation of subject curricula. Based on his opinion, the tutor-mentoral clinical research should be fortified and regarding the resources, attracting the foreign students is also very important.

Dr. Béla Merkely emphasised that the rector position is not a goal but a tool and a service for him to create a better operating, with ability to keep to the short- and long-term challenges, effective, student-, patient- and colleague-centred institute from Semmelweis University. In the future he will work in close connection with the Student Government and the door of the rector’s office will be open to the students if they want to compose their comments and he will be pleased to welcome those who have concrete ideas regarding the development of the university – added Dr. Merkely finally.

After the lecture, the forum continued in an interactive way, students could speak with the forthcoming rector based on three pre-coordinated topics: the parallelism of lectures and practical lessons, the blocking of practices, the medical services that are available to the students and university employees. Finally, students could ask questions and share their opinions about the assessment and development of lecturer competences.

Zsófia Haszon
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Edina Szendreiné Nagy