I warn everyone against propagating, though it is a popular belief, that a degree is not necessary, Charaf Hassan, dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics (BME VIK) of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics said to növekedés.hu.
How typical is it in IT courses that companies hire students before they finish their studies?
In the past five years, 60 to 65 percent of students admitted to our faculty have finished their courses, but it is common experience that students already start working during their studies.
There are students who realize after starting their studies that the course is too difficult for them, and of course there are those who drop out before graduating because they choose to work instead.
What do you think of the short-term courses – lasting for a few weeks or months only - being offered to IT specialists?
Our profession is really peculiar. In everyday language, the term “IT specialist” refers to a computer scientist capable of programming complex systems, but also someone whose knowledge does not extend beyond creating websites with a few clicks. Courses are important because they can help a lot to those who have already acquired a good basic knowledge. We also launch such trainings for companies.
However, anyone who wants to learn everything from just one course without getting a degree in higher education will hardly get very far in this profession, unless we are talking about a real genius, of course. Obviously, it is not possible to train professionals who can create complex systems in a few months.
For this reason, higher education institutions and such courses cannot and should not be compared to each other.
I warn everyone against propagating, though it is a popular belief, that a degree is not necessary. Without a degree, IT specialists are no more than blue collar IT assistants.
How big is the shortage of IT specialists in Hungary?
A couple of weeks ago, reports appeared in the Hungarian press, including növekedés.hu, about a shortage of 44,000 IT specialists in Hungary. As I mentioned, however, it’s worth differentiating between IT professionals. If the question is how many well qualified IT professionals with extensive knowledge are missing from the market, then I think their number is somewhere between five and ten thousand.
It is a fact that there is no unemployment among IT professionals.
In any case, our faculty alone will issue about a thousand degrees this year, and 60 to 65 percent of our new graduates are computer engineers.
How has the popularity of IT courses developed at the Technical University recently?
Our faculty is very popular. Last year, we admitted about 800 new students to our undergraduate courses in computer science alone, i.e. to our engineering and operational engineering courses.
This year, we are even expecting a slight increase compared to last year.
It is often heard that there are few women among IT professionals. What is your experience?
We first launched programs in 2009 to try and make this profession more popular with girls. Back then, the proportion of women in our IT courses was 5-6 percent. Since then, we have managed to raise this figure to over 15 percent. The situation has improved a lot, but there is still room for improvement.
There are countries where the proportion of girls among IT students is as high as 25-30 percent.
How much do IT professionals graduating from the Technical University typically earn as a beginner?
Graduates newly entering the job market can usually expect a starting salary of over 400 thousand forints per month and can quickly climb the career ladder, but those with a master’s degree can expect an average starting salary of up to 700 thousand forints.
At what age do you think IT education should start?
One of the most important skills in IT is problem-solving and that can already be developed as early as in the kindergarten.
The basics of programming can be started from the age of 13-14, especially if the child is interested in the topic.
How is your relationship with the business world?
BME has very strong industrial relations. Students can participate in company projects, or corporate partners occasionally deliver lectures to our students. We place great emphasis on the development of “soft skills” so that our students can stand their ground well in a corporate environment, where it is important for them to be able to work in a team.
And the courses themselves are very flexible. When a new development appears on the market, it is quickly incorporated into the curriculum.
Fortunately, our faculty has such a good reputation among companies that we have had several students who were immediately hired without a job interview as soon as it turned out that they had graduated from BME VIK.