October 13th, 2011

Over 1,000 protest against higher education bill in Eastern Hungary

More than a thousand students protested against the government’s new higher education concept in front of Debrecen University in eastern Hungary on Wednesday.
The students gathered in protest against cuts in funding and an expected curtailment of student rights and autonomy.

“Small colleges that form the basis of academic training outside Budapest and large research universities will equally lose out on a general withdrawal of funds,” Gergo Torok, a second-year student at Debrecen University, said. Whole intellectual centres may be wiped out if tuition fees are introduced for certain departments that will suffer as scapegoats, he added.

At the end of the event, students released 500 balloons that were supposed to symbolise the draft bill.

According to daily Magyar Nemzet, the concept would forbid students to leave Hungary for a set number of years after receiving their degree. Student representatives find the concept unacceptable because the planned new student loan scheme would put students so deeply in debt that it would jeopardise their plans to have a family later on.

Hungary’s higher education is set to see its budget reduced by 30 billion forints (EUR 102.8m) next year, according to the government’s latest budget plans, Jozsef Bodis, the president of the Hungarian Conference of Rectors, said earlier at a conference.

Demonstrations had already taken place in Pecs in the south and Sopron in the north-west, while a rally would conclude in Budapest.

Hungarian student union HOOK head David Nagy said earlier that the demonstration would be politically neutral.

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