At the start of the forum, rector Merkely noted that ever since his appointment, it has been the goal of the university leadership to make Semmelweis University one of the top universities in the world. Although several advances have been made – such as an improvement in rankings, in clinical infrastructure, and the start of the Family-Friendly University Program –, progress has not been as fast as they wished, which is why the university, with the support of its Senate, applied for the change to a foundation model. He noted with the change, the tasks of university citizens will change, noting for example that all the buildings will be under the ownership of the university. He listed the five members of the foundation’s Board of Trustees: chairman will be Dr. Gábor Orbán, CEO of pharmaceutical firm Richter Gedeon Nyrt., and the other members will be rector Dr. Béla Merkely, Dr. Miklós Szócska, dean of the Faculty of Health and Public Administration, Dr. Péter Gloviczki, Professor and Chair Emeritus of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at the US Mayo Clinic, who started his career at Semmelweis University, and Dr. Róbert Bedros, chief medical officer of the Szent Imre Hospital. The rector said there will be no major change in the rights and obligations of the Senate or the university’s organizational rules. “The spirit represented by the professional board will further strengthen the university’s autonomy, supporting our goal to improve the university’s position in all three of our areas of operation,” the rector said.
Along with the model change, the university will receive as an endowment a 5% stake in pharmaceutical firm Richter, which will help finance infrastructure developments and cover a raise in salaries, to be determined based on performance. Dr. Merkely said the university will be able to sign more flexible, tailormade contracts with its workers, while they will continue to enjoy many of the benefits they had as public employees. He said performance evaluations will be a great motivator, while in the new system the university will be better able to prioritize when and which developments it carries out.
Chancellor Dr. Lívia Pavlik said that most questions concerned three areas: the financing of the university, changes in (public) procurements, and details related to employment. She noted that the university will continue to have a close relationship with the state, to be governed by two contracts: a longer, 20-25-year framework agreement, and shorter, more detailed contracts for multi-year financing periods. Patient care will continue to be financed by the National Health Care Insurance Fund, while Hungarian and EU funds will also be available to the university. An important guarantee element is that the state must finance public tasks at at least the same level as for similar state or local government institutions, and the same goes for development funds and payroll.
Dr. Pavlik noted that public procurement rules will still have to be followed, as most funds will remain state-provided, but the university will not have to join the centralized procurement systems. She pointed out that the changes from August 1 will not effect those employed under a health care service contract, which leaves about 4,300 of the more than 10,000 employees who will be affected, those who are now public employees: mostly in support areas, as well as teachers, researchers, and those in academic positions within clinical care. Their public employment contracts will change to a normal employment contract as of August 1.
Dr. Péter Reichert, head of Human Resources, said the samples of new contracts have been uploaded to the online inboxes of those affected, while the personalized versions will be made available by July 9 and can be picked up and signed by July 28. The next important step will be the 2×15% increase in the overall overhead budget, which will be implemented in a differentiated way for personal salaries, based on performance. The first, increased wages will be paid in early October, while July wages will be paid by the end of July for this one-time occasion. He emphasized that no one’s salary can decrease compared to what it was before: all salary premiums and compensations from before will be implemented in their new, increased wages. He also talked about the various details concerning dismissal, vacation days, and pensions.
Vice-rector for strategy and development Dr. Éva Szabó noted that the university will double its in-kind contributions, from HUF 10,000 to HUF 20,000 a month, while support for travel and school-starting costs will remain unchanged. A HUF 25 million social assistance fund will also be set up.
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Translation: Tamás Deme