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Hopes for a compromise on science reform

February 14th, 2019

As the government endorses a compromise proposed by a group of conservative professors to bridge the controversy over the planned reform of research, opinions continue to clash over the planned changes.

The Batthyány Circle of Professors has suggested that the research network currently overseen by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) should be integrated into a new foundation that should be run jointly by the government and the MTA. Government should delegate most members to a financial control board, while the board overseeing research itself should be dominated by the MTA, they suggest. Technology and Innovation Minister László Palkovics has endorsed their scheme, while MTA President Professor László Lovász wrote that he was ready to negotiate about it. Meanwhile, the MTA Praesidium urged the government to guarantee that the existing research institutes get their full funding this year.

On Mandiner, Professor György Grüner of the University of California, a physicist specialising in experimental condensed matter, thinks that the government’s intention to sever the research institutes from the MTA is a necessary precondition to make scientific research more efficient in Hungary. “The model where the network of scientific research is run by a body of scientists is practically unknown”, he writes. As an advisor to Minister László Palkovics, he asserts that the accusations of autocratic intentions levelled against the government are false. He claims that his own small California research laboratory has produced more patents since 2000 than the whole network of the MTA combined.

On Mérce, András Jámbor calls on supporters of all parties to stand up against the planned changes. The alt-left blogger is in no doubt about the government’s intention is to extend its exclusive rule to scientific research, and is convinced that the result will be an exodus of researchers from Hungary. He therefore specifically calls on Fidesz supporters to join those who are protesting against the government’s new scheme of science management.

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