The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) is the oldest and greatest institution of Hungarian science. Its founder was Count István Széchenyi who on 3 November, 1825, during the Pozsony (Bratislava) National Assembly bestowed a year’s income of his estates towards the formation of a learned society. The formation of a Hungarian Academy – a Hungarian Learned Society at the time – was laid down in Law XI. of 1827. The Main Halls of the MTA, as designed by Prussian architect Friedrich August Schüler, were ceremoniously opened on 11 December, 1865.
The MTA is a public body functioning as a self-regulatory legal entity which carries out a national civic duty by practising, supporting, overseeing and representing science.
In order to support and further the cause of scientific research, the MTA maintains a network of full-time research personnel which in turn is a fundamental pillar of the country’s scientific life.
The MTA’s public body and the academicians
The MTA’s public body consists of academicians and scholars holding a science degree obtained or naturalized in Hungary. Some 15 thousand of them play a role in solving the everyday challenges facing Hungarian science. Academicians are elected by domestic members. Any Hungarian citizen can be chosen to serve as a corresponding member who holds a Doctor of the Academy title or has a scientific title deemed equivalent.
The General Assembly
The General Assembly is the MTA’s supreme decision making body. Its membership is made up of domestic academicians and non-academician General Assembly representatives. A General Assembly is held at least once every year. One of the main tasks of the General Assembly is to elect the members of the Presidium: the President, the Secretary-General and his Deputy. The three vice-presidents are also elected for three years. In-between General Assemblies it is the Presidium that makes decisions.
The basic units of the public structure of the MTA are made up of eleven scientific sections. They include representatives of one or several closely related branches of science. Their membership consists of academicians and non-academicians (elected to the General Assembly).
Research network of the MTA
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences owns 10 research centres – which make up a total of 39 research institutes – and 5 independent research institutes. The principal task of the research network is discovery, or to be more precise, basic research. Within this area their collaboration with universities is also essential.
Civic duties of the Academy
- supports the cultivation and research of sciences;
- when asked by the National Assembly or the Government, in relevant issues i.e. in issues regarding science, education, society, the environment or the economy, it makes its professional views public;
- helps the development of language and the cultivation of science in Hungarian;
- preserves the purity of scientific life and the freedom of scientific research and self-expression;
- keeps up links with scientific research carried out in Hungarian in foreign countries, supports across-the-border science;
- makes the results of science known to members of society.