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Protests Against the Renaming of Transylvanian Medical University

Péter Cseresnyés 2019.08.30.

The University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology in Marosvásárhely, Transylvania, was secretly named after a Romanian scientist. Although the Hungarian lecturers and ethnic Hungarian Party RMDSZ have been heavily against the decision, the University’s senate with its Romanian majority forcefully pushed through the decision. RMDSZ has initiated a petition to prevent the process.

The renowned Medical University of Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș (MOGYE) was secretly and silently renamed after Romanian-American cell biologist, George Emil Palade. The renaming was announced by the University’s rector, Leonard Azamfirei at a conference back in June.

Critics of the decision have been vocally against it also making clear that if the renaming of the university is unavoidable, only a name similar to the Babeș-Bolyai University in Kolozsvár would be acceptable (its name includes both a Romanian and a Hungarian scientist).

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According to RMDSZ, the Hungarian ethnic party in Romania, this is an atrocious insult towards the whole Transylvanian Hungarian community, thus they also started a petition in an attempt to prevent the name change.

The statement released by the local organization of RMDSZ in response to the University decision says that

it is crystal clear, that this move is an attempt to banish and deny the Hungarian identity and Hungarian history of the University.

Marosvásárhely is the largest urban Hungarian community in Romania with 57,000 Hungarians living here, which is almost half (43%) of the city’s population. The university has nearly 11,000 students, 35 studies, 33 master and 7 doctoral programs and 1,233 employees. For years, the Romanian majority senate has been making sure to prevent the founding of a Hungarian section.

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The conflict dates back to 2011 when all universities in Romania were required to adopt a new university charter under the new Education Act. The law identifies three multicultural universities, one of them being Marosvásárhely University, which required the establishment of a Hungarian faculty. However the university’s new Charta – adopted by the Romanian majority senate – did not comply with the new Romanian law on education.

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According to civil organizations including mainly Hungarian doctors and academics in Romania, the aim of the decision made by the senate is to prevent the multicultural universities to create their own institutes, thus having greater decision-making power.

Fact

The Medical University of Marosvásárhely was founded in 1945 as a royal decree institution where lessons were held exclusively in Hungarian. Teaching in Romanian language was introduced seventeen years later, after the verbal instruction of the Communist Party’s leadership in 1962. Since then, the Hungarian medical education has been suppressed. In recent years, the university administration has been working with a Romanian two-thirds majority in an attempt to atrophy the Hungarian Department.

In September 2018, the University of Medicine and Pharmacy absorbed the Petru Maior University (considered to be one of the weakest higher education institutions in Romania) and became the University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science and Technology of Târgu Mureș.

The Hungarian lecturers and students were against the merging of the institutes from the beginning and the Hungarian senators didn’t even vote, but the Romanian majority was able to push through the decision regardless.

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Consequently, since Petru Maior does not have a Hungarian faculty, the weight of Hungarian representation within the newly formed university has been greatly reduced. Everyone, including the Hungarian lecturers, students and all ethnic Hungarian parties protested against the decision.

Later, in January 2019, two weeks before the exam period, the university’s management published the new regulations (which were adopted in April, 8 months prior) binding Hungarian teachers to use the Romanian examination system while the Hungarian students had been learning from different books than their Romanian counterparts.

If the merger of the institutions is approved by the Romanian Ministry of Education, it will effectively take place in the fall of 2019.

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