BUDAPEST – The Hungarian Government has introduced a regulation that caps the number of free study places available to students at ten thousand for bachelors´ degrees in 2013. This means that there will be twenty thousand fewer places offered for free next year in Hungary when compared to 2012. The Government has gradually scrapped the number of these study places, as they were fifty thousand just a few years ago. It is furthermore suggested that no state-subsidised places will be offered for certain study fields after 2013, including economic and law faculties.
“The drastic decrease for the intake of students in higher education has reversed the promise given by the popular vote on tuition fees held in Hungary in 2008,” says Dávid Nagy, the head of the Hungarian National Union of Students. He thinks that the Government’s decision might lead to the establishment of a self-sustained, privately financed system for higher education that would be solely based on tuition fees.
Violation of the freedom of choice
The European Students’ Union (ESU) is outraged by the Government´s proposal presented on Wednesday 5 December 2012. ESU reminds everyone of the popular vote that was initiated by the ruling parties in 2008 on the implementation of tuition fees in Hungary. A vast majority of the population rejected the idea then and was against the introduction of tuition fees as the results of that vote showed clearly. The current policy of the Government goes also against the objectives of the EU2020 Strategy that calls for an increased access to higher education to strengthen the competitiveness of regional economies. ESU sees it as a serious violation of the freedom of choice and equal treatment, to ask students from certain study fields to pay for their education while others are exempt from it. Furthermore, it is estimated that the tuition fees as the Government foresees them will be the highest ones in Europe when the income levels of average Hungarians are taken into account. The whole burden of the shared cost will fall on students and their parents without a properly functioning system providing student grants.
“We strongly support our member in their fight for accessible education and condemn the decision of the Hungarian authorities which will only hamper the socio-economic development of the country,” says Karina Ufert, the Chairperson of ESU, commenting on the subject.
Joint action this week
ESU and the Hungarian National Union of Students (HÖOK) call for a joint action to reverse the Government´s proposal. It is expected that mass protests and demonstrations organised by students and representatives of the academic community will start already this week. The largest one is expected to take place in Budapest on Wednesday 12 December. The aim is to have the Hungarian Government change its mind so that bachelors’ students in all study fields will receive more support from the state. See a statement from HÖOK on the decision here.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out our Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.