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Negotiations on academic reform stalled

March 4th, 2019

As the Academy of Sciences (MTA) turns down the government’s plan for the reform of scientific research while its counter-proposals have been rejected by the government, a pro-government author thinks the government should perform a ‘political regime change’ in scientific institutions, while a liberal author thinks a rational reform could still be possible.

In Demokrata, Balázs Ágoston accuses the Academy of Sciences of being highly politicised and of promoting partisan causes while framing its position as impartial and professional. He recalls that Academy President mathematician László Lovász opposes the government’s stance on ‘Soros’s Central European University’; declares that immigration cannot be categorically rejected and called ‘gender madness serious science’. Ágoston also publishes an extensive list of topics studied at the MTA Institute of Sociology including LGBTQ and HIV issues to show that research there is heavily loaded with ‘identity’ ideology. A Christian Democrat government has the right and even the duty to decide what kind of research it is ready to finance – he concludes.

In Magyar Narancs, István Elek, an associate professor of cartography would only find the idea of severing the scientific research institutes from the Academy of Sciences as planned by the government acceptable, if the research staff were to be integrated into the universities. Hungary’s universities are in fact underfunded and their academic staff are overburdened. The average university lecturer can only devote two hours daily to research while the staff of the research institutes are full time researchers. A more equitable system would benefit both research and higher education, he believes. ‘Let’s be naïve’, he writes, and believe that the decision-makers have realized the anomalies of the system and intend to correct them. He outlines three options for them, including leaving things as they are but having the Academy reform itself; opening the research budget to all individuals and research communities, inviting them to submit their applications. But his favourite version would be to merge the research institutes with the universities.

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