In 2018, 5.1 per cent of the Hungarian GDP was spent on education. In the last 20 years proportionally, the Hungarian government spent the most on education in 2003 when 6.4 per cent of the Hungarian GDP was reserved for this purpose. On average, between 1995–2018, Hungary spent 5.4 per cent of its GDP on education. With these statistics Hungary is slightly outperforming the EU average; in 2018 European Union member states spent around 4.7 per cent of their GDP on education. In the European Union, Sweden spends the most on this purpose, 6.9 per cent of its GDP, while Romania spends the least on schooling, where only 3.2 per cent of the country’s annual GDP goes towards funding education.
Over the last 30 years, the number of Hungarian citizens between 3 to 22 years of age who attend educational institutions increased. In the last three decades from a periodical bottom in 1996/1997 when only 69.6 per cent of young Hungarians were attending educational institutions at some level, the attendance rate reached its peak in 2010/2011 with 85 per cent of Hungarians between the ages of 3-22 participating in education. In 2020/2021 81.3 per cent of Hungarians in this age group were attending school, university or kindergarden. In 2019 in total 432 thousand students studied full-time in secondary education institutions, 26.5 thousand more than in the previous school year. 45 per cent of these students studied in grammar schools, while 53 per cent of them attended technical and vocational schools or vocational grammar schools (technikum, szakképző iskola és szakgimnázium).
By 2021 32.9 per cent of the Hungarian youth had a university degree
The proportion of young people (between the ages of 25–34) attending higher education has increased too over the last 20 years. In 2000, 14.7 per cent of Hungarians between the ages of 25–34 had a degree from a higher education institution, by 2021 32.9 per cent of the Hungarian youth had a university degree.Hungarian universities are also increasingly successful in attracting more and more international students. The number of international students studying in Hungarian higher education has been increasing steadily over the last couple of years, in 2020/2021 40 thousand international students studied in Hungarian higher education; it is 14 per cent of all students attending Hungarian universities.
In terms of the quality of education, on standardized international tests (more specifically, on PISA – Programme for International Student Assessment), Hungarian pupils perform slightly below the EU average. In 2018, 25.3 per cent of Hungarian and 22.5 per cent of EU students struggled to read properly. While in the EU, Estonian children are the most confident in their reading skills, with only 11.1 per cent of children struggling to comprehend texts, Bulgarian students are the most ill taught to read; 47.1 per cent of Bulgarian students have difficulties reading. On PISA tests until 2009 the performance of Hungarian students improved (the percentage of children struggling to read decreased from 23 per cent to 18 per cent), however, since 2009 Hungarians pupils again started to perform poorly on reading skill assessments; by now Hungarian students’ reading skills are worse than the EU average.
Unfortunately, it is not only the performance of Hungarian students on international standardized tests that should be improved, but foreign language teaching too; the country’s population speaks less foreign languages than the EU average. In the EU on average 64.6 per cent of people (between the ages of 25–64) speak at least one foreign language. The best performing country is Sweden where 96.6 per cent of the population speaks at least one foreign language. The worst performing country, on the other hand, is the United Kingdom where only 34.6 per cent of the population can speak a foreign language. Romania is where the second least proportion of people knows a foreign language (35.8 per cent); Hungary is the third worst country on the list; only 42.4 per cent of Hungarians can speak on at least one foreign language. In the EU 51 per cent of Luxembourgers declared that they know three or more foreign languages (highest in the EU), in Hungary only 3 per cent said the same (Romania is lowest in the EU, with less than 1 per cent of the population knowing three or more languages).
Hungary’s poor performance on foreign language knowledge is likely to change over time
Hungary’s poor performance on foreign language knowledge is likely to change over time. While in the 55–64 age group 74.6 per cent of people do not speak any foreign languages, only 40.4 per cent of people aged between 25–34 did not manage to learn to speak on at least one foreign language in the Hungarian school system. Therefore, with time the proportion of population unable to speak any foreign languages is likely to decline. From foreign languages in Hungarian elementary school English is by far the most popular. Four times as many students study English in elementary schools than German, which is the second most popular language. In 2020, French was the third, Spanish the fourth, Italian the fifth most popular language. The six most ‘popular’ language was Russian; however, it means that only 483 pupils studied Russian on the elementary school level in Hungary in 2020. 
While there is a lot to improve on Hungary’s performance on international tests and foreign language teaching, overall, Hungarian young people who finish education have good chances in life. The prospects of young Hungarians to find employment soon after graduation are better than in the European Union on average. In 2018, 87.5 per cent of young people who finished their education in the last 1 to 3 years were employed in Hungary; in comparison the EU average is 81.6 per cent. Youth after graduation find employment in Malta the easiest where employment rate among fresh graduates is 93.1 per cent, the worst performing EU member state is Italy where only 58.7 per cent of fresh graduates work.
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