Problems with issuing a university absolutorium - the Ombudsman asks for a lawful procedure

The absolutorium is but a certificate attesting to the completion of  the study program of a higher education institution, it is not the equivalent of a higher education degree. In order to get their degree, students having already received their absolutorium have to pass the necessary final examinations. A former student of the Corvinus University of Budapest submitted a complaint voicing displeasure at the University's Study and Examination Code setting the minimum grade point average necessary for getting an absolutorium at 3.00.

The University allows those with a lower GPA to improve their grades; however, it results in the extension of the period of studies irrespective of the fact that the students concerned have already passed all their exams.  According to the complainant requesting anonymity there are cases when the University allows students to improve their grades in a given subject only after skipping a semester.

Concluding his investigation, László Székely has pointed out that issuing the absolutorium is subject to meeting the statutory requirements which do not include any qualitative criteria, i.e., reaching a certain grade point average. The act authorizes the Government to determine the number of credits required to the successful completion of studies; however, this provision does not stipulate any conditions regarding evaluation through grading. Notwithstanding, the Government has issued a decree compelling higher education institutions to set the minimum (weighted) grade point average. Based on the above, the Commissioner has established that the Government Decree has overstepped its statutory authorization and, as a result, the provision prescribing the achievement of a minimum GPA as a precondition of issuing the absolutorium has infringed the requirement of legal certainty, leading to an impropriety.

By way of derogation from the criteria stipulated in the provisions concerning higher education, through setting additional requirements, this regulation and practice compel students to retake exams they have already passed, increasing the time spent on studies and delaying the graduates' entry on the labor market.

In order to eliminate fundamental rights-related improprieties, the Commissioner has turned to the Government and requested the Minister of Human Resources to take the necessary measures aimed at eliminating the improper regulation and practice, letting students meeting the relevant statutory requirements get their absolutorium. He has also requested the Minister to initiate a comprehensive investigation into the practices of issuing the absolutorium in all higher education institutions. Furthermore, if necessary, the Minister should draw the attention of the heads of higher education institutions to the lawful practice and, as the supervisory authority of the Corvinus University of Budapest, conduct an investigation, going back to 2005, in order to find out how many students have been adversely affected by the University's practice.