Columnists across the political spectrum deem the higher education reform announced last week improvised and drastic and believe that it will undermine the government’s credibility.
Magyar Nemzet columnist Miklós Ugró writes in a sarcastic comment that : students want free and no-hassle fun at universities, universities want to keep state funding while invoking the principle of autonomy, opposition parties encourage the students to occupy Fidesz and government offices and the government tries to explain „the unexplainable”. However, Ugró adds, everyone should remember that higher education has never been free: under communism graduates’ salaries were kept low to make them pay for their education throughout their careers.
Népszabadság’s editorial for calling the students “troublemakers” and suspecting hidden interests behind the protests. Can the government name a single professional organization that supports, without any interest, this so-called reform?, the left-wing daily asks. However, the spokesperson was right in pointing out that it is high school students who are hardest hit, but he might have unintentionally mobilized them as well.
In Magyar Hírlap, Zsolt Bayer warns the government that they should take the student seriously. This protest “can become the symbol” of all kinds of grievances, he writes, but beyond that: students’ voices are important just as they were in 1988 “when we founded Fidesz” (Bayer was one of the original founders of Fidesz, an alternative youth organization that developed into the now governing party). “If we ignore them, we may fall”, Bayer warns. The government must be ready to compromise and to explain patiently why students are wrong in assuming that the new policy introduces tuition in higher education.
Index runs a commentary by Gergely Dudás who says the government’ loss of credibility after two years and costs the country “a lot of money” and makes the position of negotiating partners extremely difficult. Any organization that is ready to accept a deal with the government must face the possibility that the agreement will be simply annulled in a few months – therefore there is no other option but to demand the restoration of the 2010 framework. This is all the more regrettable, Dudás opines, as Hungary cannot finance the present structure of its higher education anymore and a reasonable reform is much needed, including some form of tuition.