The rector of Semmelweis University held a lecture entitled “The Effects of COVID-19 on Universities – Sustainability, Identity and Mission” on the occasion of an online symposium. The aim of the virtual event organized by the Irish SKELLIG non-profit organization was to reflect on those new situations that higher education has to face because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Besides keeping the operation of the institution close to normal, our university aims at maintaining continuity in the areas of education and health care. Beyond this, the university undertakes a serious leading position in the health care and the screening procedures of COVID-19 patients. Furthermore, the researchers of our university fight against coronavirus and its consequences on various fronts: with the development of diagnostic treatments, therapies and equipment”, emphasized Dr. Béla Merkely, rector of Semmelweis University.

In the virtual event organized by the Irish SKELLIG non-profit organization, the rector held the first lecture in the third bloc examining the missions of universities. Regarding the role of Semmelweis University in the fight against coronavirus epidemic, Dr. Béla Merkely highlighted the institution’s three-pillar-mission (education, research-innovation, health care) and he elaborated on the effects of the epidemic on the university accordingly.

Throughout our history, the citizens of Semmelweis University have always played an important role in overcoming cataclysms representing serious challenges to the entire population”, said Dr. Merkely.

According to him, reacting rapidly and taking appropriate measures are the most important in the current epidemiological situation to be able to effectively fight against COVID-19.

Apart from the Irish lecturers representing the organizer country, several other European experts, university professors and researchers took part in the conference. The virtual event was divided into three blocs. In the first section, Dr. John O’Halloran, president of the University College Cork talked about the adaptation of universities to the current epidemiological situation, afterwards Dr. John Crown, professor at Dublin City University held a lecture about the effects of COVID-19 on clinical cancer research.

In the second part of the conference, the topic of the lectures was university identity, the role and place of universities in the social structure. The guideline of the lecturers of this bloc, who were from philosophical and theological areas, is that in the course of history we keep track of two value-creating and value-preserving institutions: church and educational institutions. The effects of COVID-19 on higher education were analyzed from this point of view as well.

SKELLIG is a non-profit organization, which was founded in Dublin in 2018; it organizes educational, research, cultural and theological interviews, symposiums regularly. Among its founding members, there are professionals representing the following areas: public policy, communication, health care and legislation. Dr. Béla Merkely was invited for the symposium to hold a lecture by the Irish SKELLIG via the Embassy of Hungary in Dublin. Last year, during the conference organized in a traditional framework in Dublin, Hungary was represented by Katalin Novák, Minister of State for Families and Youth.


Diána Módos, Directorate of International Relations
Photo: Tünde Czétényi
Translation: Katalin Illés-Romhányi