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Left-wing criticism of university scholarship allocation plans

December 7th, 2012

Left of centre columnists discuss the allocation of university scholarships for 2013, and accuse Fidesz of breaching its promise not to introduce tuition fees.

The government proposes to give 10,480 full scholarships and 46,330 partial (50 per cent) scholarships for incoming university students in the academic year 2013-2014. Graduate students will be allocated 16,000 MA and 1300 PhD scholarships. In 2012, incoming undergraduates were offered 35,587 full and 5,500 partial scholarships. Partial packages have turned out to be rather unpopular – less than 2,000 students opted for them. The government, however, claims that by offering more partial scholarships, it will make higher education available for more young Hungarians in 2013. The government will also offer student loans at a reduced interest rate to cover fees and living expenses.

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai recalls that. The left-wing columnist contends that by significantly reducing the number of full scholarships, the Orbán government is breaking its promise to keep university education free. This step will make it impossible for young Hungarians from poor families to enrol in higher education, Hargitai argues.

The government’s decision to further reduce the number of full scholarships is a slap in the face for their own voters, Richard Molnár writes in Népszava. Those who voted for Fidesz should learn their lesson, he argues, and never buy the promises of the governing centre-right party again.

Ákos Balogh in Mandiner points out that Fidesz in a white paper on higher education published before the 2010 election claimed that there were too many university students who could not find a job after graduation. The document stated that the number of university students should be halved. The conservative liberal blogger, nonetheless, finds the austerity measures in higher education counterproductive. Balogh notes that it is highly controversial that the Orbán government wants to fight debt, but by reducing the volume of public funding in higher education, it compels young Hungarians to take up huge loans to cover their expenses. Instead of reducing the number of scholarships, Balogh recommends cuts in pensions and other welfare provisions offered to old age pensioners, e.g. free train travel.

Véleményvezér fears that such steps will deepen the cleavage between the poor and the rich by rendering higher education, the most valuable tool of social mobility, unavailable for Hungarians born into underprivileged families.

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