Embassy of Hungary, Islamabad, Pakistan

Education Scenario International approached worthy Mr Sándor Mihálkó,Counsellor at Embassy of Hungary, Islamabad, to have first-hand knowledge of Hungary and to know about his views with special reference to Hungary’s education policy as well as its scholarships’offer to Pakistani students.

Smiling teenager students

Honourable Mr Sándor Mihálkóis the focal person at the Embassy of Hungary.As a senior diplomat he is very successful and responsible for providing information on higher education and scholarships offered by Hungary.

The ESI exclusive talk with him is aimed at getting updated information on Hungary’s scholarship programme for Pakistani students and also for their help and guidance.We hope that this interview with the worthy Counsellor would help Pakistani students avail of the scholarshipopportunities to the optimum and become successful by dint of the accurate, authentic and up-to-date information.

Education Scenario International (ESI):Would you like to throw light on your professional background and successful career with reference to your present responsibilities as Counsellor?

Mr Sándor Mihálkó:I came over to Islamabad more than two years ago to serve the Hungarian interests and, of course, to further cement the already existing bilateral and cordial relations with Pakistan and its great people. And after two years, I have a different picture of Pakistan which, I would honestly say, is not a country as propagated negatively by some foreign media-houses. It is indeed a peaceful country with friendly and communicative people who believe in building up and promoting cordial ties and amity with all countries for mutual benefits on the basis of reciprocity.

After my tenure ends, I would hopefully say that I had a meaningful role to play to further cement and strengthen diplomatic and bilateral relations between the two countries.

ESI: Would you like to say something about your great country to acquaint our readers with the progressHungary has made over the years?

Answer:Tracing back the history of Hungary, I would like to enlighten you on some of the most significant aspects and factors concerning the development and progressive as history stands witness. First, it is important to note that Hungary traces back its history to the Magyars, an alliance of semi-nomadic tribes from Central Asia that arrived in the region in the 9th Century.

After centuries as a powerful medieval kingdom, Hungary remained as part of the Ottoman and then Habsburg empires from the 16th Century onwards, emerging as an independent country again after World War I.

ESI:What’s the geographic importance of Hungary in Europe?

Ans: Precisely, a landlocked country, Hungary is home to Lake Balaton, the largest in central Europe, and to a large number of towns and hot springs.It has especially rich traditions in folk and classical music and has been the birth-place of many outstanding performers and composers including Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály.

ESI:Would you like to enumeratesome major advantages for Pakistani students planning to study in Hungary?

Ans: Yes, sure. You know Hungary is a highly developed country that lies in the heart of Europe and is interested in sharing knowledge with other countries around the globe. The Hungarian higher education is well-structured and well-planned and has a strong background. No doubt, Pakistani students will be able to avail of a chance to gain experience and first-hand knowledge in an entirely different environment while continuing to enrich their knowledge.

ESI: Pakistan and Hungaryenjoy strong diplomatic and trade relations.Do you think there is still a lot to do to further promote the existing bond of relationship between Pakistan and Hungary?

Ans:Definitely. Hungary’s first aim in the last couple of years of its diplomacy has been to promote trade and economic cooperation with nations of the world with its focus not only on the Euro-Atlantic area but also Asia. Now the Hungarian Embassy is on it with the result that there are successes in sight. Yet we’ll continue to make further efforts in this direction. Hungary would be pleased if the volume of bilateral trade and investments grows further.

ESI: Could you please comment on the scholarship programme being offered by your government exclusively for Pakistani students?

Ans:The scholarship programme which was signed in December 2015 in Budapest between the two countries offered 240 free scholarshipsto Pakistani students wishing to pursue higher studies in Hungary. A significant increase in the number of students going to avail of the opportunities Hungaryoffershas been noticeable. The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) also contained several different areas for developing cooperation between the Hungarian and Pakistani educational institutions including government institutions. Various fields of education are available for higher studies for Pakistani students.

ESI: How do you find the flow of Pakistani students to Hungary?Did the existing number (of students) decrease or increase during the last five years?

Ans:Of course, the number of interested applicants is higher than was previously expected. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Hungarian Tempus Foundation,which is responsible for serving the interest of the Hungarian institutions,tries hard to select the best students from around the world in connection with this programme. Since the scholarship project kicked off last year, we can say that the highest number of Pakistani students have pursuedtheir studies in Hungary.

Hungaryis known for its higher education and has been home of academic excellence for centuries. The first university in Hungary was founded in 1367 in Pécs. Today, there are manyhigher educational institutions in Hungary, ranging from small colleges to top-ranking research universities.

Aside from it, there are scholarships on offer for foreign students. Sometimes even they help students with course fees, textbooks or even living and accommodation costs.

And as for tourism, Hungary is one of the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world with a Capital regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the World.

ESI: Would your Embassy guide and facilitate students wishing to apply for colleges and universities in Hungary with their travel documents?

Ans:First, you need to have the approval for studies by the HEC and then the Hungarian authoritybefore taking up the application process. Be precise in following the instructions closely on the official website of our embassy and also give special attention to the Visa Officer for grant of Student Visas.

ESI: How do you find Pakistan as a country with reference to foreign education?

Ans:Pakistan is one of the few countries that enjoysHungary’s scholarship programme.There are many full scholarships being offered through the Embassy of Hungary through a set mechanism.

ESI: How and in what way Education Scenario International and its team can support the Hungarian institutionsto promote themselves in Pakistan?

Ans:Well, I believe as far as a standard English-language magazine is concerned, I would readily name Education Scenario International as a leading quality magazine in Pakistan’s education market.

No doubt, this international quality magazine focuses on international education and tries to provide the latest and updated information on the subject.

The main purpose of this magazine, as far as I understand it, is to inform Pakistani students pursuing higher education and seeking scholarshipsoffered by national as well as international organizations and such other institutionsof repute around the world.

I’m aware that since its inception,this magazine has dedicated significant space for thisvery purpose with a considerably wide circulation in Pakistan.

And this is why we have decided to work with this publication for promotion of Hungarian educational institutions and our scholarship programme.We support and endorse the ESI request to advertise in the Hungarian institutions in this magazinefor promotion and for recruitmentof genuine students.Furthermore, we can testify thatan advertisement in this magazine would receive an excellent response.

ESI: Anything we may have missed which you would like to share with our valued readers and prospective clients?

Ans:Yes. The scholarship programme is a way to deepen the friendship between the two parties (countries). I hope it will also help in contributing to the economic cooperation and would enhance the trade volume.That will also have a congenial impact culturally on the existing bonds of friendship and bilateral relations between Hungary and Pakistan. I guess not just the government of Hungary but also the Embassy of Hungary in Islamabad and His Excellency Ambassador István Szabó is committed to implementing the programme to make it a real success.

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