Budapest plans on forcing state funded students to stay in Hungary

BUDAPEST – The European Students’ Union (ESU) is deeply concerned about the new law proposal from the Hungarian government to force young graduates to work in Hungary from 7 up to 20 years after their graduation. This would apply to all students who receive funding from the state. If they would decide to go and work abroad, they would have to pay all costs of their studies back. According to ESU this could be a violation of EU law and it asks the European Commission to start a profound investigation.

The draft piece of legislation has been put together without any official consultation of HÖOK, the national union of Hungarian students, member of ESU. HÖOK is planning demonstration against the proposals on 27 October, in Budapest. Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson, who will attend the demonstration, said: “If Hungary demands students to sign contracts forcing them to work only in Hungary after graduation, then this is a direct restriction on the right to free movement, which is one of the cornerstones of the EU.”

Päll continued: “If students are forced to pay the state funding back if they decide to work abroad then this is as an indirect restriction, which also goes against the right to free movement. We are very curious to hear what Brussels thinks about these proposals and whether Hungary has already discussed any of these with them.”

Reduction of students
The number of students financed by the state will also be significantly reduced meaning that less students will have the chance to study. The number is set to fall from 54.000 students in 2011 to 25.000 students in 2012. The rest of the students will have to pay the full costs of their studies, causing difficulties for many.

In some fields of study the number of financed student places will decrease to zero (for instance law, economics, arts) and students will have to pay two to three times higher tuition fees. This is also restricting the freedom of universities to teach and students to choose appropriate studies, not to mention increasing the societal inequity. Up until today, the universities themselves could decide on tuition fees but in the new law the state will decide about the cost of a study field.

Less student participation
Lastly, the number of student representatives in decision-making bodies will decrease to 1-20 percent instead of 25-33 percent which it is right now. Veto rights concerning study affairs will also be banned if the new law will make it through.

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Published: 26 October 2011
For more information, please contact:
Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson: +32/479.591.499 or allan@esu-online.org or Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 or marianne@esu-online.org