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Thesis-hunt in the wake of Schmitt’s resignation

April 5th, 2012

A right-wing commentator suggests that scores of doctoral and MA theses should be scrutinized after the President of the Republic stood accused of having plagiarised his own, and was forced to resign.

“As compared to the MA and doctoral titles decreed by the Central Committee of the HSWP (The Communist Party), Pál Schmitt’s case is just an example of youthful mischief,” Gergely Huth remarks in Magyar Hírlap.

He argues that at the Physical Education School (which has since merged with other institutions and is now part of Semmelweis University) it was common practice to issue undeserved titles to prominent sportsmen. Schmitt should have resisted the temptation, but could not. On the other hand, all kinds of prominent representatives of the Communist regime also used to get favourable treatment, and Huth believes that these should now be carefully reviewed to see whether or not the authors should be stripped of their titles. „Parliament should enact legislation to prevent Universities from blocking access to such theses on privacy grounds,” Gergely Huth suggests, and criticises Pécs University for denying journalists access to former left-wing Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s thesis.

Népszabadság has, meanwhile, also tried to get hold of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s MA thesis (1987), but the request was rejected by Budapest ELTE University’s Law Faculty. The President of the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Authority has issued a statement confirming that Universities do have the right to withhold MA and doctoral theses from the public. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has published a scanned copy of his thesis on his webpage. Mr Gyurcsány promised to retrieve his and make it available to the public.

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