- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Budapest Guide (PDF)
Expats certainly won’t have to worry about a shortage of quality education and schools in Budapest. Hungarians highly value education, sometimes even placing excessive stress on parents and children. Therefore, expat parents will find that both local and international schools in Budapest offer an excellent standard of education.
Public schools in Budapest
Public schools in Budapest are funded by the government and can be attended at no cost, although parents will need to pay for books, stationery and other equipment.
If space permits, local schools will allow expats to enrol, but this can be a difficult environment for a non-Hungarian-speaking child. However, if moving to Hungary permanently, expats may find public schools an ideal way for their children to immerse themselves in the notoriously difficult Hungarian language as early as possible.
Bilingual schools in Budapest
There are many schools in Budapest that offer bilingual education.
Public schools offering bilingual programmes include the Chinese-Hungarian School, Lemhenyi Dezso English-Hungarian Bilingual Primary School, and the Serbian Kindergarten, Primary School, High School and Students' Home.
Many international schools also offer bilingual teaching. The SEK Budapest International School, for example, is run privately. Although rather pricey, it has the unique distinction of being an officially trilingual school where students are taught in Spanish, English and Hungarian.
Religious schools in Budapest
Budapest has public as well as private religious schools. Public religious schools in Hungary tend to be better equipped than regular public schools, and they usually have more comprehensive facilities. This is because public religious schools are funded by both the government and the church. As a result, these schools can fill up quickly, so parents should apply early to avoid disappointment.
Private religious schools include international schools such as Greater Grace Christian Academy and the International Christian School of Budapest. Like other international schools, fees at these schools can be painfully high. Be that as it may, parents who want their children to be taught in a religious environment but aren't willing to send them to a non-English school might find this worth the extra cost.
International schools in Budapest
Most expats in Budapest choose international schools because they allow their children continuity in their studies and home language, as well as for cultural diversity and the ease of making friends.
There are often waiting lists for international schools in Budapest, so expats are advised to contact schools as soon as possible to apply for a place and find out if there are entrance or assessment exams. Some schools may ask for reference letters from previous schools, as well as past grade reports. Children may also be requested to come in for an interview.
Expat parents relocating for work purposes should try to negotiate an education allowance as part of their relocation package to help bear the eye-wateringly expensive fees at international schools.
Special-needs education in Budapest
Expat parents of children with special needs can rest assured that their children will be well taken care of as Budapest schools (be they mainstream or specialised schools, depending on the severity of the disabilities) are set up to cater for any disabilities or behavioural issues. Children with special needs are assessed by an education rehabilitation committee. The committee can either recommend that the student be placed in a specialised class or institution, or propose integration into mainstream education. The Act on Equal Opportunities states that parents have the right to be involved in any decisions that are made.
Presently in Hungary, children with special needs are integrated into the education system in the following ways: an inclusive mainstream class, a special class in a mainstream school or in a special school. Children with special educational needs may start elementary school at the age of eight at the latest.
Tutoring in Budapest
Many expat and local parents in Hungary opt to have their children tutored. Tutoring is helpful in cases where children need assistance in specific subject areas such as maths, science or Hungarian; studying for important entrance exams, or for learners with learning difficulties. An excellent tutoring company in Budapest is Tutoroo, where parents can browse and find the perfect fit for their children's needs.