The European Patterns of 'Homo Academicus' and the Chances of Its Evolution in Current Hungarian Higher Education

Corvinus Law Papers, No. 3/2005, 27 p.

28 Pages Posted: 29 May 2015 Last revised: 12 Jun 2015

See all articles by Daniel Deak

Daniel Deak

Corvinus University of Budapest

Date Written: January 23, 2015


In the recent four or five years, there have been abrupt and radical changes in the governance of Hungarian higher education. It can then be interesting to assess the state of “homo academicus” as it looks currently in Hungary. The notion of “homo academicus” is obvious: it concerns participants in the system of a country’s higher education. The paper as follows still comes back to the definition of “homo academicus” by referring first to it as occupation, or rather as a profession that can be interpreted in terms of sociology. Secondly, some historic patterns can also be mobilised, based on the assumption that university is a very European institutions that is even rooted in the tradition of the Middle Ages.

The elbow-room of seeking for identity and the role to be filled by academics are limited by the effective system of the governance of higher education. It is a key to the chances of academics of meeting the historically corroborated professional standards that they exercise academic freedom. As it cannot be done individually, but in cooperation (through a collegial system), academic freedom is always combined with collective action. The field where this freedom can be exercised can be specified through university autonomy, the lack of which makes a serious barrier to the full development of a character of “homo academicus”. This is now the case in Hungary, the paper suggests.

The paper seeks to gain deeper understanding of the character of academics, their vocation and professional roles, and the governance of higher education, serving as the environment for academic activity, by creating a conceptual framework. The paper is established on the results of sociological research and the experience of legal management, although it remains to be of theoretical nature. It criticises the current Hungarian situation of the governance of higher education, arguing for the reconstruction of university autonomy and financial stability. It also emphasises the importance of predictable regulations.

Keywords: Vocation of academics, professional autonomy, academic knowledge, university autonomy, illiberal democracy, market opportunism

Suggested Citation

Deak, Daniel, The European Patterns of 'Homo Academicus' and the Chances of Its Evolution in Current Hungarian Higher Education (January 23, 2015). Corvinus Law Papers, No. 3/2005, 27 p. , Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Deak (Contact Author)

Corvinus University of Budapest ( email )

Fovam ter 8
Budapest, H-1093
+36(1)4825365 (Phone)


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