Hungarian university rectors are asking the European Commission’s president to settle the issue of Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programs for Hungarian universities as soon as possible. They also demand immediate reparation for the damage to the honor and financial interests of the university communities.
The rectors of 21 Hungarian universities have written to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. In the letter, obtained by hirado.hu, they state that the Council Implementing Decision 2022/2506 excludes 182,000 students – including 30,000 international students – and 18,000 researchers from the Erasmus+, Horizon Europe, and other direct EU-funded programs of the Hungarian model universities (maintained by public interest trusts), and therefore, as rectors of the universities concerned, request immediate action.
We consider it unacceptable the unprecedented measures taken against Hungarian higher education, which has more than a 650-year historical tradition and has given the world many Nobel Prize-winning researchers, teachers, and world-renowned inventions,”
the rectors wrote.
They also say that the Council decision, which was adopted on the basis of the committee’s proposal and entered into force immediately, is unique in that it was adopted without prior consultation of the heads of the universities concerned and the university community. The first consultation took place only a month and a half after the decisions were made on February 15 2023, but the authors stress that they have not seen any willingness to review the relevant Council decision.
The reason given by the Commission representatives for the decision was the perceived practice of restricting the teaching and research autonomy of foundation universities in Hungary. The model change, however, was achieved with the support of more than two-thirds of the universities’ autonomous bodies, communities, and senates.
In their opinion, the fact that all public leaders have decided to resign from their boards of trustees proves that there was no political predominance in the boards of trustees.
The government was also asked about the Erasmus issue in parliament on Monday. Eszter Vitályos, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, said it was time for an agreement on the EU funds Hungary was entitled to. According to the government, Brussels’ demands have no EU legal basis, as their requests were already met in the autumn, and the government has cooperated on further demands.
It is common practice in Western Europe to have politicians on university boards of trustees,
she added. Vitályos said that the government members concerned had resigned from their trusteeships or government positions and that Hungary would not allow students to be the victims of any decision by Brussels. One thing is certain: there will be a scholarship program “whether we agree with Brussels or not,” she said.
Featured photo via Pixabay