On October 18, 1993 at a high-level general meeting of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association and the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association in Beregszász an agreement was reached to establish a Hungarian institution of higher education. To implement this ambitious plan, the aforementioned associations sought the support of the Church and the Beregszász City Council’s representatives.
On January 13, 1994 a charitable foundation “In support of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute” was registered, whose ultimate aim was to establish and maintaine an institution of higher education with the Hungarian language as a medium of instruction. Its founders were the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association, the Transcarpathian Reformed Church, and the Beregszász City Council. The Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Catholic Church also pledged their support. However, due to objective reasons they could not take part in the foundation’s establishment and operation. The foundation’s representatives appealed for assistance of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Hungary, the Organization of the Hungarian minority beyond the border and the György Bessenyei Teacher Training College of Nyiregyháza. The foundation passed the Institute’s statute and prepared a set of documents necessary for the official registration of the educational establishment, following which they were submitted to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine in order to obtain a permission to set up an institution of higher education. Their request was turned down.
On May 17, 1994 the Ministry of Culture and Education of Hungary, the György Bessenyei Teacher Training College and the foundation “In support of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute” signed a contract starting teacher education courses. The responsibility for the financial maintenance of the educational programme was assumed by the Ministry of Culture and Education of Hungary. The György Bessenyei Teacher Training College was in charge of extra-mural educational programmme, while the foundation “In support of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute” was responsible for providing conditions for education, accommodation and transportation of the faculty of the aforementioned college.
In August, 1994 41 students gained admission to specialties as nursery school teacher, primary school teacher, teacher of the English language and history, teacher of the English language and geography. On September 17th, 1994 an academic year opening ceremony took place. The instruction began on the premises of the Beregszász Hungarian Grammar School (previously, rooms for caretakers).
On January 5, 1995 the foundation “In support of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute” and the Reformed Church of Beregszász entered into a contract on the basis of which a part of the building located on 1 Illyés Gyula boulevard, Beregszász, passed into the newly established Institute’s use (for 15 years) on condition that it would be refurbished and maintained by the institute. At that time the building housed the town polyclinic. The Beregszász City Council asserted a claim of right to the aforementioned real estate, making numerous attempts at hampering the procedure of the building’s rent. One striking example of this is the decision reached by the majority vote of the Regional Council of Beregszász on March 15th, 1995, its representatives being mostly ethnic Hungarians, to suspend the execution of the procedure of the building’s rent, inasmuch as the executive committee’s previous decision was allegedly unlawful. In order to prove the right to property the Reformed Church had to produce additional documents, including a report stating that the building was appropriated during Soviet regime, although according to the archive records the Church was its owner long before World War II. During that academic year instruction took place on the premises of the Beregszász Sewing Vocational School.
In 1995 the State Accreditation Committee of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine did not issue an official permit to the institute, therefore instruction continued on the basis of the György Bessenyei Teacher Training College with the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Hungary, the latter being the main sponsor of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute until now.
On June 13, 1996 the meeting of the State Accreditation Committee granted a licence allowing the Institute to conduct educational activity. The licence was issued on September 16th, 1996. Prior to a common meeting of Hungarian and Ukrainian minority committees in June, by attracting mass media’s attention the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association succeeded in putting on the agenda two items of crucial importance for the Hungarian minority: 1) monument erection at Verecke Pass; 2) registration of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute; The committee made a decision in support of both items.
On September 25, 1996 an academic year opening ceremony took place in the institute. Among its guests were Bálint Magyar, Hungarian Minister of Education and Culture, Anatoly Babak, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, representatives of the Transcarpathian Regional Administration, as well as other guests including those who previously opposed the institute’s establishment. At that time the institute started its faculty’s professional development. Educators with relevant education status and experience, professional doctoral degree holders across Transcarpathia, and also students of doctoral schools were invited to cooperate. Instruction continued on the premises of the Beregszász Sewing Vocational School.
In spring, 1997 the institute underwent inspection on the initiative of the Organization of the Hungarian minority beyond the border. That year degrees were awarded to the first graduates of special courses of the György Bessenyei Teacher Training College.
In autumn, 1997 with the institute’s support the Reformed Church restored its right to property of one part of the building, the former Kálvin square market place, which then was to be rented by the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute. However, the authorities tried to prevent the entire building’s rent. For 2 more years, it was occupied by the town polyclinic, even though the Hungarian Republic invested 1 million dollars (this sum has not been repaid yet) into the construction and equipment of a new modern polyclinic in Beregszász.
In September, 1999 in cooperation with the Budapest Horticultural University, courses in horticulture were organized for the first time (Horticulture Speciality).
On February 26, 2000 Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, visited the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute during his state visit to Ukraine. That year the refurbishment of the dilapidated building rented by the institute was finally completed.
In 2000 with the support of the Apáczai Charitable Foundation (Hungary), the institute bought and refurbished its first real estate a guest house in order to provide accomodation for lecturers from Hungary and other universities in Transcarpathia. Dénes Berényi, the Head of the Apáczai Charitable Foundation and Örs Csete, the Foundation’s executive manager attended the opening ceremony of the guest house.
In September, 2000 with the assistance of the György Bessenyei Teacher Training College courses on economics were organized in the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute.
In 2001 the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine accredited the institute’s operational specialties, thus making it the first establishment of higher education for the Transcarpathian Hungarian minority awarding recognized degrees. Zoltán Pokorni, Minister of Education of Hungary and Nadia Dobidovska, representative of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine were present at the first Degree Award Ceremony on June 20th, 2001.
In 2002 with the assistance of the Apáczai Charity Foundation the institute purchased and later renovated a once popular hotel „Grand”, located in the town’s main square. Until 1990s the hotel operated as „Druzhba”, but because of its delapiditated state it was closed down. Following its renovation, the building has been home to the Ferenc Kölcsey student hostel. Taking place on February 7th, 2002, the hostel’s opening ceremony was attended by Mádl Ferenc, the President of Hungary and Anatoliy Kinah, the Prime Minister of Ukraine. On that day the Beregszász City Council made a decision to grant the building of the former Court of Justice to the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute.
In 2002 with the support of the Apáczai Charitable Foundation and the Illyés Charitable Foundation the renovation of the building of the former Court of Justice was started. As far as the allocated funds were sufficient only for preliminary work, the institute’s management appealed to big cities of Ukraine and Hungary to contribute to the building’s renovation. The renovated rooms were named after the cities which provided financial support.
On March 11, 2003 with the assistance of the Apáczai Charitable Foundation a film club was set up on the premises of the Ferenc Kölcsey College. Sándor Kőnig, the charitable foundation’s head, attended the film club’s inauguration ceremony.
On December 13, 2003 the institute took up the name of Rákóczi Ferenc II and since then its official title has been the II Rákóczi Ferenc Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute. The guest of honour at the ceremony was Vilmos Szabó, Hungary’s State Secretary.
Owing to alterations made to the institute’s statute, new degree courses were started and the horticulture course was finally stabilized.
2003 – at the request of the Ministry Education and Science of Ukraine the institute was audited.
2004 – with the help of the Hungarian local governments the first floor of the building of the former Court of Justice was renovated.
In 2004 newly elected representatives (in 2002) of the Beregszász City Council reached a decision according to which the transfer of the ownership right on the building of the former Court of Justice to the institute was done not on legal base. The institute’s management did their best to confirm their right to property. In order to protect the institute’s ownership right Mádl Ferenc, the President of Hungary, as well as Tom Lantos, on behalf of US senators, wrote an official letter to Leonid Kuchma, the President of Ukraine. The issue became highly political. As it became later known, the ownership right cancellation was demanded by István Gajdos, represenative of the Supreme Council of Ukraine and Head of the Democratic Association of Hungarians in Ukraine. Olexandr Moroz, ex-speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine, took steps to protect the institute, who personally attended to the ownership right issue during his visit to Beregszász on September 1st, 2004. In addition, Beregszász Culture and Entertainment Centre’s management refused the institute’s request for renting a hall to hold the end-of-year ceremony. Allegedly, the hall was temporarily closed for renovation. Therefore, the end-of-year and degree award ceremony was held in the Reformed Church. Since then on students’ request it has become a traditional ceremony venue.