Rector's New Year greetings

2023 brought major changes in the life of Óbuda University, where our university was once again able to level up and has begun its path of becoming an investor university.

Dear Colleagues!
Dear Students!
Dear University Citizens!

"A year, behold, has passed again/ The dawn of a new one has risen/ The whole world is full of hope" - Elek Benedek's thoughts encourage us to start a new year with new momentum, as the beginning of every year is a time of hope and renewal.

Over the past year, we have continued to shape the future of Óbuda University with perseverance and dedication, and I am pleased to report that our efforts have yielded spectacular results.

Five years ago, I set the goal for Óbuda University to begin on a new and sustainable path of development in line with the challenges of the industry of the 21st century, and to become the leading university in Hungary, the Carpathian Basin and the Central and Eastern European region in terms of research and industrial development.

We started from so far away, but today I am proud to announce that our university has burst onto the international scene. According to the Times Higher Education (THE), we are rated as one of the top institutions in our country in both engineering and computing. We have jumped more than a thousand places in the international rankings over the past period, and today we are ranked in the top 4% of nearly 30,000 universities in the world.

Albert Einstein said, "Universities are the sources of new ideas and knowledge that shape the future." At our university, we shape the future. Our institution has become one of the most important institutions of higher education in the field of engineering, not only in Hungary but also in the region, as is evident from the growing number of student applications. We have maintained our quality standards when almost all national technical higher education institutions lowered the thresholds and baccalaureate requirements this year, and our applicants have rewarded us with an increase of almost 30% in the number of first place applications. They certainly appreciate our leadership in developing practice-oriented education that responds quickly to industry needs. This year, we have launched several new courses: the first Master's degree in Hospital and Medical Engineering in the country at the John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics. At the Alba Regia Faculty of Engineering, we have launched a bachelor's degree in economics and management, a master's degree in business development and a master's degree in sports economics, at the Ybl Miklós Faculty of Civil Engineering a master's degree in infrastructure civil engineering, while at the Bánki Donát Faculty of Mechanical and Safety Engineering we launched a cybersecurity engineering course. In addition, as part of the development of cross-border training, we are launching a Hungarian-language business informatics course with the Partium Christian University in Oradea.

The academic standing of a university is also reflected in the number of its professors. 56 professors are now teaching and researching at the leading institution of higher technical education in Hungary, since the appointment of ten professors at Óbuda University by President Katalin Novák. This is more than double the number I started my term as Rector with.

Our researchers are also brilliant: in the ranking of publications of excellence in Hungary, Óbuda University has also risen to the top of the rankings based on the data of recent years. While five years ago only three, this year eight of our researchers have been included in Stanford University's database of the top 2% of the world's most cited researchers. In addition, we have tripled the number of D1-Q1-Q2 ranked publications in just a few years, meaning that the ideas and financial expenditures in improving science have proven to be good investments.

Not only has our popularity grown, but our recognition too. This is reflected in the fact that the second call for applications for our Professorship of Excellence programme was once again over-subscribed. This year, two internationally renowned and highly qualified researchers and distinguished professors, Professor Habib Zaidi from University of Geneva in Switzerland and Professor Peng Shi from University of Adelaide in Australia, joined our research development programme.

Foreign students are also important members of the community of our university. The number of international students has grown, with nearly 800 students from 74 countries of the world currently studying at our institution. Internationalisation remains one of our priorities and has been strengthened at an institutional and individual level in recent years. We also encourage our students to gain experience abroad: we offer 100% credit recognition and an extra €100 per month to all students of Óbuda University participating in a mobility programme abroad.

Still on the international scene, we have recently signed strategic agreements with universities in Central Asia, Central and Eastern Africa, Vietnam, Mexico, North Africa, and we have also stepped up the pace of cooperation with our neighbouring Croatian and Slovakian universities. Even from the outside, it is now both noticeable and visible that we are now presenting ourselves in a different way at international level, our regional and international visibility is increasing strongly.

Dear Colleagues!

We are no longer working solely for ourselves at Óbuda University. Knowledge exploitation has become an essential aspect. The principles of the quintriple helix, which emphasise collaboration between scientific results, industry, government, civil society and the tight community of our own university, are becoming a reality.

In addition to our three existing doctoral schools, the newly established Innovation Management Doctoral School is a sign of the change in approach that our university has recently been making. Our fourth doctoral school, which has been launched, offers PhD degrees and habilitation in management and organisation. The OU contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of the country by developing new interdisciplinary courses and specialisations, which is largely facilitated by the launch of our new doctoral school, unique in Hungary and rare in Europe.

"Talent is worth nothing without hard work." - I share the thoughts of one of the world's most famous and successful footballers, Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously, the number of our talented students is growing every year, but they have to work hard to succeed as well. Fortunately, we find that talent is often matched by hard work among our students. More and more of our students are gaining doctorates, and the number of habilitated doctorates is steadily increasing. If you look at the last five years, we have more than doubled the number of habilitated lecturers as well as the ones with PhD degree.

My primary objective for the past year has been to kick-start the planned investments of our achievements, and to reinforce and consolidate our education and research goals. Our new F curriculum was launched in September of 2023, as planned, and we have successfully overcome the obstacles of the tightening admissions system. We have focused on the gradual convergence of the different requirements for secondary and higher education, which is expected to lead to a further reduction in student drop-outs and a significant increase in the number of graduates. Achieving our goal will bring significant improvements in the quality of our education. It is not enough to start innovating at university level. Our vision for the future is well served by the take-over of the Orchidea School of Public Education and the Szinyei Merse Pál secondary school starting from this academic year. This will enable us to accompany young people from pre-school ages to technical higher education. This way we want to create a culture of an innovation-driven society in our country as early as possible. Secondary school students and students at our university could be the drivers of innovation, bringing new ideas and solutions to our ecosystem and thus becoming an important building block for a knowledge-based society and an environment conducive to innovation investment in our country.

In addition to the above, I consider it a further achievement that in the past year our institution has expanded with new real estate: the building on József körút, which served the purposes of technical education in the predecessor institution of ÓU as early as the 19th century, has officially been taken over by Óbuda University. The University also acquired the property of the local Training Centre and Research Site in Salgótarján.

Dear University Citizens!

I also share the views of Henry Ford, who wrote: "The successful man advances in the time that others waste." Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I have spent every minute of the last five years serving the development of Óbuda University, and that the hard work and support of my colleagues has been essential to this.

There are issues that need our particular attention. It is essential that in our institution, while supporting research and development, we should train graduates with the knowledge and skills to adapt flexibly to rapidly changing challenges. The Rudolf Kalman Foundation for Óbuda University is one of our most important supporters in strengthening our innovation ecosystem. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, András Cser-Palkovics, and the members of the Board of Trustees have continued to make an inspiring contribution to the development of our institution in 2023.

I consider one of the most outstanding achievements of the last period that we have started to build a rare example of an investor university approach: we have created our own capital company to promote innovation management. The venture capital company Obuda Uni Venture Capital, was established, which is both a venture capital company and a Venture Studio, a mentoring network. The aim is primarily to finance innovations born at our university, but the door is also open to the entire Hungarian and international higher education sector. This will complete the mapping of the national innovation ecosystem chain towards our university, which was launched several years ago, and will allow us to become a full member of the metrics of the knowledge society in the international sense.

We all work hard, so it's important for us to make our staff feel at home at work. Social responsibility is the third mission of the institution's management, one of its declared tasks alongside education and research. As a Responsible Employer, a Family Friendly Workplace and a Family Friendly Trademark holder, we offer a wide range of services to our students. This year, our university has been awarded the Family Friendly Place certificate by the Family Friendly Hungary Centre, and not only do we have a kindergarten, but our crèche, which opened a year ago, is now integrated into the full life of our university.

In the field of sport, too, there have been many positive changes at Óbuda University in recent years. From the autumn academic year onwards, we made physical education compulsory in the undergraduate courses, and we started a master's programme in sports economics in Székesfehérvár. We inaugurated a renovated multifunctional sports field in Óbuda and were the only university to win the award for the most sporting higher education institution. Our Kandó SC sports club was re-established and now has seven sections, not only for our students but also for our employees. We have joined the MOB Dual Diploma Programme, supporting our top athletes in their active careers.

Dear University Citizens!

"The future cannot be predicted, but our future can be invented." - said Gábor Dénes. I agree with his thoughts, I think we need to plan for the future, to contribute to the creation of a knowledge-based society with more and better innovation.

As many of you already know, Óbuda University is building three science and innovation parks (SIP) simultaneously in Zsámbék, Székesfehérvár and Kaposvár, which is unique in Hungary, but we have now also made progress in the international arena: we are building a fourth one in Uzbekistan, as the first innovation and technology park in the Central Asian country, jointly with our Uzbek partner institution, the Tashkent Institute of Chemical Sciences, and mapping our domestic SIP centres as digital twins. I consider the recent inauguration of the first laboratories of the ÓU SIP parks at the Alba Regia Faculty of Technology, the John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics and the Bánki Donát Faculty of Mechanical and Safety Engineering as a significant step forward. The SIP parks of Óbuda University will be implemented in the so-called "digital twin" concept. This means that the halls to be built on the project site will be the creative workshops, the productive entities of industry-driven innovation research, and the talented engineers coming from our university will provide the knowledge, the intellectual capital, which they will acquire and prototype in our university's faculties and research centres. This is how our system becomes sustainable, because it is in the knowledge and creativity of young people that the future of success lies.

My end of year accounts is not exhaustive, as we achieved outstanding success in many other areas. One thing is certain: our actions are guided by an unswerving belief and faith in progress and a deep commitment to our country, its people and its future.

The functioning of our institution is balanced, the image and reputation of the university has changed in a positive direction, our colleagues are able to cope with the often rapidly changing circumstances, their motivation has increased, they are more confident and balanced. Our university has become an engine for social development through our scientific research and achievements, and we have a responsibility to ensure that this engine is effectively operated, maintained and developed in all respects. Our supporter, the Rudolf Kalman Foundation for Óbuda University, and the University's management will continue to do their utmost to provide a motivating and supportive environment for our community. Let us be proud of our achievements and keep in mind the values that contribute to the development of our university and our community.

Dear University Citizens, Dear Colleagues, Dear Students!
I believe in the strength of the community, because the citizens and staff of our university have all contributed to achieving such good results. I believe what we believe in together is what moves us forward. I count on all the staff of our University, active and retired teachers, professors, emeritus and emerita, teaching assistants, administrative and physical staff, and of course all our current and graduating students. We have been able to achieve these results as a true team, each doing his or her job in their field. Thank you all for your work and support over the past year!

With the start of the new year 2024, I would like to quote Victor Hugo: "The future has many names: the weak call it unattainable, the coward calls it unknown, the brave call it opportunity." I think we can rightly call the new year a new opportunity to reach even higher. To do so, we must both consolidate our achievements and proactively strengthen the structure and system of our University, keeping our eyes open and responding to the challenges of our society. My goal remains to maintain the direction set out in my Rectorial Programme, to steer Óbuda University into the ranks of the world's most respected higher education institutions.

With these thoughts I wish you all a New Year full of success and good health!

1 January 2024.

Prof. Dr. Levente Kovács
Rector

Updated: 31.12.2023.

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