ESU turns to European Commission as Hungary restricts freedom of state-funded students

BUDAPEST – “The new Hungarian education law hugely restricts the free movement of Hungarian students. We call upon the European Commission to take action and immediately start a thorough investigation into the legality of such a law in the EU”, said Allan Päll, Chair of the European Students’ Union (ESU) on 8 February. Hungarian students are continuing their protest against this new law in the evening of 8 February in Budapest.

Hungarian students who are (fully or partly) financed by the state should from now on sign a contract with the state, which obliges them to work for at least double the time of their studies in the territory of Hungary. This has to be fulfilled in twenty years after graduation. If they work less than the required years, they should pay back the whole costs of their studies with an interest rate.

Hungarian students will speak out against this new law, adopted on 23 December 2011, in the evening of 8 February by means of lighting candles in the city centre of Budapest (Deák Square). The Hungarian National Union of Students (HÖOK, ESU member) will hold an all-night wake while the expected temperature is -20 degrees in the country. Rok Primozic, Executive Committee member of ESU will also participate in the action.

Drastic decrease of funding
Päll added: “As a result of this new law, Hungary is also facing a drastic decrease of the available state-financed places in higher education. Further, these so called 'study contracts' limit the rights of graduates profoundly and could be seen as a modern enactment of serfdom.”

The number of state-funded students shall drop dramatically, by 40 percent -54.000 students in 2011 to 34.000 students in 2012- and in the case of several study fields (law, economy) state-funded places will only be accessible in Budapest. HÖOK organised a big demonstration against the law proposal, on 27 October 2011. Although this led to several amendments, the new piece of legislation is still detrimental for Hungarian students.

Päll: “The Hungarian government is just cutting down on education like a blind butcher while on top of this limiting the freedom of their students after their graduation. This should be brought to an end as soon as possible otherwise Hungary risks becoming an open prison”.

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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