Prior to the publication of entrance limits to higher education institutions on Tuesday night two opposition parties blamed the government for reducing the number of students with free access to higher education.
Socialist MP Istvan Hiller said on Tuesday that while all European nations had expanded state-funded higher education, Viktor Orban’s government reduced the number of students admissible to free places in universities and colleges from 53,000 to 32,300 within a year.
Hiller said the drastic cut may lead to a massive lay-off of lecturers and bring about a decline in the general standard of higher education.
A former education minister, Hiller said he agreed with ombudsman Mate Szabo’s earlier call that the government should withdraw the new system of entrance examinations.
Szabo blamed the government for its failure to observe the higher education law which stipulates that the number of free places can only be modified by 10 percent in a year.
MP Agnes Osztolykan of the small LMP party said the problem should be remedied as soon as possible but for this year it is too late to find a solution.
Orban: no tuition fees, more loan subsidies
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday that he was against tuition fees in higher education and supported a system of preferential student loans.
Orban said after meeting heads of Fidelitas, the youth arm of the ruling Fidesz party, that he was in favour of a system in which the state enables the poor to attend higher education with the help of long-term loans.
The government wants to finance students and not the institutions and therefore students should have the power to influence which college and university is eligible for support, Orban said.
The admission points of higher education institutions will be published on Tuesday evening and Orban said this will show which universities and colleges were most popular among applicants. Those that were avoided by students will not get support next year, he added.
Orban said the topic would be discussed at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and added that the reform of the higher education system must be started this year already.
He said Hungarians who have left to study and work abroad are likely to return in great numbers in five or six years and Hungary must be ready to receive them when they return, offering them good jobs and schools. Additionally, the reputation of Central European universities is likely to increase and “if the reform of our higher education system goes well, we will be the recieving station of talented westerners who want to study at affordable prices,” he said.
Orban started a series of consultations with strategic partners last week and Tuesday’s meeting was the continuation of this series.