Higher education under threat in Hungary

“Since the current government came into power in 2010, changes in the education system have been generally characterized by centralization, state control, overregulation and questioning of the role of the intelligentsia and the importance of higher education.

Students are now only required to stay in school until age 16 (down from 18), schools are being nationalized, the regulation of curricula has been strengthened to tie the hands of schools and teachers, and national curricula have been rewritten to promote the Government’s ideology. This means that the special curricula of schools that work with disadvantaged children (the government has also cut funding for these schools) and the curricula of great institutions for gifted students will go into the dustbin, or will at least be rewritten according to the wishes of the government. The remuneration of teachers, like that of others working in the public sector, is very low, and has decreased with the reforms.

In 2011, the number of government scholarships was already massively cut, which led to a 25% drop in the number of higher education applicants in 2012. Students on government scholarships now have to sign a contract in which they promise that they will work in Hungary for twice the length of their course within 20 years. The only European country with a similar contract is Belarus, but even there students have to spend fewer years in the country after graduation. Tying graduates to Hungary obviously violates one of the basic principles of the European Union, namely the free movement of labour.”

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