A large-scale development has taken place in the infrastructure of the participating institutions – both in terms of modernisation of machinery and upgrading the knowledge of the teaching staff, which undoubtedly had a positive effect on the quality of the teaching taking place.
Stakeholders and external evaluations agree on the increased quality of education, in the context of the pilot programme. Perceptions of the later phase are more mixed. The teachers often cite that the programme helped students through the inclusion of soft skills into the curriculum, such as communication training or career orientation. Though not taught in all TISZK-s and often abandoned when the funding stopped, these had a very high marginal benefit as skills of this kind had been generally neglected in the Hungarian education system. Thus, based on one of the major objectives of the measure the implementation of the TISZK system can be deemed to be successful.
The impact on former students’ labour market experience could and should have been assessed based on follow up surveys of graduates. Collecting such data was indeed included in the programme. In fact, however, in a high number of cases, personal acquaintances of school principals or dummy organisations enjoying the support of local politicians or political parties in power were subcontracted to carry out such studies. Consequently, the reliability of these studies is low, especially since they were conducted for only a very few years, as no schools spent money on them from 2008 onwards. The instrument achieved, to some extent, the modernisation of the school curricula, machinery, and also addressed the institutional fragmentation of the VET system. However, many studies point out that the money spent on this initiative could have, to some extent, been better used, since the incentives of the reform encouraged even schools who were not part of the target group of the programme to participate. There is almost no evidence on the labour market outcome of students of the VET system prior to and after the reform, which also makes it difficult to assess whether or not the initiative has achieved its targets.
There was an unexpected cost that TISZK-s had practically no chance to meaningfully cooperate with the others, for instance because of the distance between their institutions. Even in cases where this would have been possible, school principals did everything they could to avoid the reduction of the size of their schools, to avoid laying off their colleagues. Such streamlining, however, would have been the very purpose of integration as through this only can costs be expected to shrink.