Construction after challenges: this is how the Student Union of SZE is planning for the future

The transformation of the system of social benefits, the expansion of student services, an internal succession training programme - among others these are the plans with which the new management of the Student Union (SU) of Széchenyi István University has undertaken its two-year mandate. While in the previous period the coronavirus epidemic and distance education meant the major challenges, the following period will be about gradual construction in the life of the SU. We had a conversation about paperless efforts, changing student needs and the role of charity with Márton Maczkó, the former president, Márton Pék, the current president and András Aschenbrenner, the vice-president of the University Student Union.

There was a change at the head of the Student Union of Széchenyi István University at the end of last year: in the position of president Márton Maczkó was followed by Márton Pék, while András Aschenbrenner became the new vice-president for specialised tasks of the University Student Union. The staff changes also mark the end of an era: a period of unforeseen difficulties, defined by the challenges of the epidemic and distance education came to an end. It is reasonable to look back, as well as to look ahead because of the renewal of staff, thus we asked the people concerned to evaluate the previous period and to express their concepts.

“Like everyone else, we were also affected by the epidemic and the distance education that it brought. We could not keep in touch personally either with each other, or with the students, so we had to rebuild a lot of things from scratch”, Márton Maczkó, the former president of the University Student Council summed up the period they could leave behind. According to him, the biggest problem was that they did not have the opportunity to train their new members due to the lack of physical proximity.

“There is a very strong turnover of staff in the Student Union: one or two years, and you can become a leader from a starting representative, that is why missing one semester is already a huge loss from the point of view of gaining experience. Apart from the Freshers’ Week we did not have the opportunity to meet each other, therefore at the end of the epidemic we strived for rebuilding what had been lost: the team, the knowledge base, the events”, the former president expressed his opinion. He thought that nevertheless they managed to overcome these difficulties.

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Márton Maczkó, the former president and Márton Pék, the current president of the University Student Council with the vice-president, András Aschenbrenner. (Photo: Csaba József Májer)


The new presidency is optimistic about the future. Márton Pék, the elected president of the University Student Union has defined the cornerstones of the future as follows:

“We have assigned the transformation of social application system, the expansion of student services, the establishment of new events and the development of internal succession training as the main tasks of the following period. These are the keystones of our programme”, he listed, then added that they would like to promote student charitable activities by charity actions, fundraising, following the Széchenyi traditions.

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In the new presidential term the positions of the vice-president of specialised tasks and that of general vice-president will cease, there will be only one vice-president, and the work will be assisted by the secretary of the presidency (in our photo: Viktória Varga). (Photo: Csaba József Májer)


The most important project currently running is the complete renewal of the system of social benefits with respect to the recommendations of the National Union of Students in Hungary (abbreviated as HÖOK in Hungarian).

For this purpose, the Student Union of Széchenyi István University has created a social work group the task of which is to elaborate a paperless and transparent application system, together with the review of the assessment criteria. According to their plans, students will be able to apply via a fully electronic surface.

“We would also like to expand student services, thus the Student Information and Service Centre, that is to say the Kisház (in English: Little House) can receive new tasks”, Márton Pék moved on to the next point. “Currently the student card system, the Student Loan administration and printing, photocopying are the main activities of the Kisház but they help us a lot in administrative tasks. Over time, we have lost some of the tasks, thus we would like to do something with our released capacities. The aim is to provide the students with higher quality services, and to make them be able to have access to all of them at one place”, the president explained.

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We have brought the development of student services in the focus of the next period because through Dávid Vályi-Nagy the Student Union of Széchenyi István University delegates a member of the HÖOK presidency (National Union of Students in Hungary) responsible for student services at national level. (Photo: Csaba József Májer)


Talking about events, András Aschenbrenner took the floor telling that the supply of recreational programmes must adjust to the changing needs of students. For this purpose, the Student Union has carried out a survey to find out what students wish.

“Both our formal and informal surveys have indicated that students are more open to cultural programmes or programmes with their peers rather than self-absorbed entertainment. An event is attracting for a student if there they are given an experience or knowledge that can only be received in the university environment. That is why we would like to realize awareness-raising professional as well as scientific and informative lectures or just creative handicraft sessions”, András Aschenbrenner disclosed.

It is not justified to transform the currently popular programmes, such as cauldron nights and faculty evenings, however, the Student Union is constantly seeking new kinds of events, some of which have already been realized. The student quiz night series was a great success in the autumn semester, but a beerpong tournament and a boardgame night have also been launched during the semester. We are pleased to see that foreign students are participating in more and more events, moreover, last year they organized their own cauldron night for the first time.

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Through the initiative of HÖOK talent management will play a major role in the coming period. A talent management agent will coordinate this effort at each of the universities. They will be obliged to report to HÖOK. (Photo: Csaba József Májer)


“To make our organization work well, it is inevitable to have an internal succession training”, András Aschenbrenner remarked.

“Besides the usual trainings, we would like to generate round table discussions, that is informal forums where student representatives in senior positions or former, experienced members would talk about a certain topic. In this dialogue form everybody could freely tell their opinion, insights, so we trust that useful thoughts will be born while everybody is deepening their knowledge in the given field”, the vice-president added.

“We can look into the future with confidence. Of course life can rewrite our plans, it has been proven by the Covid period, so we must always be prepared for the unexpected”, Márton Pék, the president of the University Student Union summarized. “Together with these, we look forward to the new period with great hope as we have formed a great team, and our commitment is also given. The continued support of the university's management is a constant source of optimism. The management places a great emphasis on establishing an infrastructure of international standards, on providing quality student services and cultural entertaining events, on the support of student competition teams today belonging to the European champions. Students of this university can receive up-to-date knowledge and even a significant investment to be able to realize their innovative ideas in a start-up enterprise. It is positive for us as well that the autonomy of the institution has increased since the model change, the operation is assisted by processes that are much more flexible, more efficient than the former ones”, he concluded his words.

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