The President of the Republic, elected by the parliament every 5 years, has a largely ceremonial role, but powers also include appointing the prime minister. The prime minister selects cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in consultative open hearings and must be formally approved by the president.
The unicameral, 386-member National Assembly is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the last was in April 2002). A 15-member Constitutional Court has the power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionality.
The duration for compulsory education is from the age of 6 to the age of 18. Basic education lasts for eight years (from age of 6 to age of 14) is divided into two stages of four years each. Upon completion of basic education, secondary education is provided in comprehensive/academic secondary schools or vocational secondary schools. Schools often offer more than one programme (e.g. academic and vocational, academic four or six-year courses). The typical institutions offering general education and an Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate are awarded by the comprehensive/academic secondary schools and may be attended for four, five (e.g. bilingual secondary schools), six or eight years. Secondary vocational schools and vocational schools train the students in the fields of humanities, technical, agricultural sciences and services. Secondary vocational schools provide general education in the first four years and award the Secondary School Leaving Certificates. Vocational education generally begins after the fourth year, although some introductory vocational subjects may be taught during the first four years as well. Length of vocational courses may vary from one to three years up to vocational programmes. Vocational schools do not award secondary school leaving certificates and the level of the vocational qualification is lower than that in the vocational secondary schools.
Hungarian higher education has a dual system with colleges and universities. Some colleges are associated with universities and operate as college faculties of the universities. A university can also offer college level courses. The duration of training at college level is minimum 3 years, maximum 4 years; the duration of education at university level is minimum 4 years, maximum 5 years (with the exception of medical universities where it is 6 years). According to the binary pattern, colleges and universities grant college-level degree and universities grant university-level degree. Universities organize three-year PhD courses, specialized further education courses (with a normal duration of two years) and various continuous education courses. After a recent reform, it was reported that the network of higher education institutions consists of 17 state universities, one non-state university, 13 colleges, 26 Church universities and colleges and 9 colleges run by foundations.
Hungary has an estimated population of 10 million. 95% of the population is Hungarians. Several ethnic minorities exist: Roma (2%), Germans (1.2%), Romanians (0.8%), Slovaks (0.4%), Croats (0.2%), Serbs (0.2%) and Ukrainians (0.1%).