Viktor Orbán on higher education: An outrage

About a week ago Viktor Orbán announced that he will be taking a two-week holiday because his “batteries were exhausted.” He will spend time with his family in Felcsút and perhaps at Lake Balaton. I’m sure that a lot of people received this announcement with a certain amount of relief because lately the Hungarian prime minister has been delivering speeches that made not the slightest sense. Perhaps these people thought that a two-week rest would have a beneficial effect on Orbán’s nerves and senses.

However, no such luck. He changed his mind and instead of taking a vacation he began a tour, meeting important segments of society. Now, don’t think that these include groups who don’t necessarily agree with him. No, he has pleasant exchanges, perhaps several daily, with his followers. The speeches he has made at these encounters are perhaps even more outrageous than his earlier ones. It was during one of these meetings, this time with the leading lights of Hungarian capitalism, that he announced that at least fifty percent of the banking sector must be in Hungarian hands. I don’t think that I have to elaborate on the nonsensical nature of this particular announcement given the lack of capital in Hungary. It was also during one of these fruitful talks that he announced that public utilities companies in the future should operate on a non-profit basis. Again, I don’t think that one has to dwell on the impossibility of such a scheme–unless, of course, these companies are nationalized, in which case they would probably operate at a loss.

Well, yesterday Orbán met with the leaders of Fidelitas, the youth organization of Fidesz. Most of these people, for example Péter Ágh (1982-), the chairman of Fidelitas, also have high positions either in the Fidesz parliamentary caucus or in the government. So, the prime minister didn’t have to worry too much about adverse reactions to his ideas on higher education.

Let’s get to perhaps the most outrageous idea: within a few years Hungarian higher education will be financially self-sustaining. In plain English, the government will not put a penny into maintaining Hungarian universities. Well, such a thing is simply unimaginable.

There is no country in the world where higher education is maintained simply through tuition. Not even in the United States, which is usually brought up as the example of the most unfair system of higher education in the western world. But in the United States not even private universities, where tuition fees are very high, can exist simply on tuition paid by students. They still need massive financial help from alumni and, yes, grants for research projects or even the teaching of certain subjects that might be useful from the government’s point of view. For instance, during my tenure at Yale we received a grant of $100,000 for a number of years to teach Polish, for which the university didn’t have available funds. And naturally there are the state universities that receive large sums of money from state budgets. For example, for the 2012-2013 school year the University of Connecticut received $284 million from the state of Connecticut. A nice sum, although because of budget cuts it is $45 million less than the year before.

And after Orbán announced that he is planning to maintain Hungarian state universities from tuition fees alone, he immediately added that “I’m an enemy of tuition because we don’t know where students will get the money for tuition. Therefore I’m not arguing in favor of the introduction of a tuition system, but instead I am advocating an arrangement by which the state gives an opportunity to the poorer students to be able to educate themselves through long-term loans.” Thus tuition is not tuition if it is paid with borrowed money.

He elaborated on this plan by saying that “the government doesn’t want to finance walls. Thus we are not interested in ensuring that certain institutions continue to function, but instead we want students to have influence through their application decisions which universities are good and which are not.” This needs a bit of “translation.”

Let’s start with the basic educational philosophy of Viktor Orbán. He wants to limit the number of students who embark on university studies. While the European Union is encouraging countries to increase the number of college graduates, Orbán’s Hungary is moving in the opposite direction. He and Rózsa Hoffmann, undersecretary in charge of education, severely cut back on the number of tuition-free slots–from 53,000 to 32,300.  The immediate result of this decision was that 30,000 fewer high school graduates even applied to college this year.

Now, if I understand Orbán’s words correctly, he wants to limit the number of institutions as well. In a way that makes sense: fewer students need fewer colleges and universities. The decision as to which institutions remain will be based on the number of applicants to each university. Fewer applicants will mean the closing of the school. And the few popular schools that remain will be maintained by the students. They will be the ones who will make sure that the walls of the buildings do not collapse.  Today, in fact, the cabinet will discuss the results of the applications, and those colleges that were less popular will not receive any government subsidy. That is, they will die.

If Fidesz wins the next election, in the next three to five years the “system will be operational [üzembiztos].” And the saddest thing about all this is that his young audience on the ship where the meeting was held didn’t tell him, “You know what?  Jump into the Danube, you fraud!”

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Guest
Bowen
July 25, 2012 2:46 pm

As a side note to this, the number of Hungarian candidates taking the IELTS exam has increased five-fold in the last six months.

(IELTS is the Cambridge-accredited qualification of English-proficiency which overseas students are required to submit when they apply to a UK university.)

Guest
July 25, 2012 3:17 pm

” Now, don’t think that these include groups who don’t necessarily agree with him. No, he has pleasant exchanges, perhaps several daily, with his followers.”

Just like this blog :-)

Guest
July 25, 2012 3:22 pm

The young ones from my wife’s family (they’re lucky to have finished their studies at university – but unlucky in that they had to take jobs where their diplomas don’t count for much) just told me that there was a big kind of show yesterday on M1 (the news ?) which showed how many points one needed to get to some university.

Of course it didn’t tell how many young ones with les points have no chance to study – unless they (or rather their parents) have enough money …

Now for the “good” news:

They and all their friends hate Fidesz and its politicians so much – but they don’t know what to do, earning a living of course has highest priority …

Guest
July 25, 2012 3:24 pm

Louis, have you ever heard the expression “Every village needs a village idiot” ?

You fit perfectly …

Guest
Bowen
July 25, 2012 3:27 pm

Louis Kovach :
” Now, don’t think that these include groups who don’t necessarily agree with him. No, he has pleasant exchanges, perhaps several daily, with his followers.”
Just like this blog

Well, no, not quite. Here’s the difference, as I understand it.

1) Professor Balogh does her blog each day, containing her views and thoughts. Blog readership grows.
2) Orban Viktor gives various speeches and interviews over two years as PM, detailing his views and thoughts. His party’s popularity steadily declines.

Member
Some1
July 25, 2012 5:15 pm

Louis Kovach :
” Now, don’t think that these include groups who don’t necessarily agree with him. No, he has pleasant exchanges, perhaps several daily, with his followers.”
Just like this blog

THis is an open blog Kovach. I thought you knew that. We also do not have many pleasant exchanges with you or yesterday with the other nazi. I doubt that you can just walk into the meetings with Orban.

Member
July 25, 2012 6:33 pm

The poor guy thought this was funny. Like “Hey! His shoes are untied! Yours too! Hahaha …”
Kovach the intellectual giant. He is the only one here who’s not “following”. He is here to cure his allodoxaphobia. Not much success so far.

I know. This was childish and ad hominem but we deserve a little fun after yesterday’s horrors.

Member
Some1
July 25, 2012 6:46 pm

I think a quote from Conan O’Brian fits well Orban and coincidentally our own nationalist, Louis Kovach. “When all else fails there’s always delusion.”

Guest
petofi
July 25, 2012 8:06 pm

As per our favorite friend, Louis K., what is painfully obvious is the banality of the
Hungarian nationalist.

Guest
July 25, 2012 10:54 pm

Well, if you wouldn’t have me to trash, the main subject would be congratulating each others genius.

Guest
July 25, 2012 11:43 pm

If I would be sarcastic, I could ascribe to the success of the blog’s philosophy for the lates Tarki results. From the always reliable ATV:

“A Fidesz-KDNP támogatottsága a teljes népességen belül június után júliusban is 18 százalék, míg az MSZP-é 14-ről 12 százalékra változott. A pártpreferenciájukat tekintve bizonytalanok vagy azt el nem árulók aránya viszont 48-ról 52 százalékra nőtt az elmúlt egy hónap alatt.

A pártválasztók körében a Fidesz-KDNP támogatottsága 36-ról 38 százalékra, az MSZP-é pedig 27 százalékról 25-re módosult.

A többi parlamenti párt népszerűsége is lényegében változatlan: júniusban a Jobbik a teljes népesség 11 százalékának bizalmát élvezte, ami júliusban 10 százalékon áll, a pártválasztók körében pedig mindkét hónapban 22 százalékos a támogatottságuk. Az LMP a teljes népességen belül júniusban és júliusban egyaránt 5 százalékot, a pártválasztók körében 10 százalékot ért el. A Demokratikus Koalíció szavazói a teljes népességen belül mindkét hónapban 2 százalékot, a pártválasztók körében pedig 3 százalékot tesznek ki.”

Guest
Lutra lutra
July 26, 2012 1:55 am

Louis, for your information these results are not statistically significant (except for LMP’s continuing evaporation). It’s more comforting to quote numbers than just make assertions, I know, but it’s best not to stray far from home when you do.

Member
July 26, 2012 9:36 am

Louis Kovach :
If I would be sarcastic, I could ascribe to the success of the blog’s philosophy for the lates Tarki results.

The 2% FIDESZ gain in July is because the Hungarian electorate doesn’t like the Hungarian Spectrum? Kovach, you are clearly loosing it …

Member
Some1
July 26, 2012 10:55 am

SORRY OT.
GREAT NEWS (especially for Louis who wanted to hear from real witnesses regarding the Csatary affair)
In the archives of the Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) is the file of the court decision of Csatary’s death sentence.
The file contains the testimony of witnesses, records of the arrest warrant issued on March 16th 1948 arrest warrant, and Csatary description as well. (He was sentenced to death by the way. Maybe Jobbik is right and in certain cases they should bring back the death sentence.)
According to testimonies of guards who were Csatary’s subordinates, Csatary instructed them to be ruthless to the Jews in the Kosice collection camp, as well Csatary also actively participated in torture and humiliation.
Csatary also ordered the deportation to concentration camps of such persons who were not subject to deportation, and were not physically able to withstand transport.

THis is just a sample of the “innocent, old man” background. You can read more about him here: http://index.hu/kulfold/2012/07/26/hianyzik_csatary_laszlo_perenek_itelete/
http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2012/07/26/slovak-jewish-community-wants-alleged-nazi-to-stand-trial-on-slovak-soil/

(As Kovach said, when sided with Csatary “To each his own….” Well, we always knew that Kovach.)

Guest
July 26, 2012 11:11 am

Some1: “GREAT NEWS (especially for Louis who wanted to hear from real witnesses regarding the Csatary affair)”

What I have said that it is up to the courts to decide what can or cannot be used. Dr Balogh tried to lecture me on the Constitution and if she would check it she could learn about the proper legal system also. You probably wouldn’t even comprehend it.

I have also stated that he should be handed over to the Slovaks, just as the Ujvidek gang was handed over to the Yougoslavs.

With your mental ability you can’t even remember what I have written and distort almost everything I write in your responses.
My comment for each his own was for your Bodoki reliability comment.

Your Constitution is “Hang him tonight and give him a fair trial tomorrow”. Lynch mob law went out of style with the demise of the KKK, but maybe some blog partixpants think it was a great idea,

Member
July 26, 2012 11:31 am

Kovach, we don’t want to hang anybody without a trial unlike your good buddy Bela Varga. If you believe that Csatary was falsely convicted in 48, you and your buddy should start a fundraising to finance his legal battle to clear the poor old man’s name.

I’m not a constitutional expert (not like you at least) but IMHO accusation is not against the constitution (false or true). It’s up to the courts ti decide if it has merits. So go ahead and prove we are wrong.

Member
Some1
July 26, 2012 11:48 am

Louis Kovach : Some1: “GREAT NEWS (especially for Louis who wanted to hear from real witnesses regarding the Csatary affair)” What I have said that it is up to the courts to decide what can or cannot be used. Dr Balogh tried to lecture me on the Constitution and if she would check it she could learn about the proper legal system also. You probably wouldn’t even comprehend it. I have also stated that he should be handed over to the Slovaks, just as the Ujvidek gang was handed over to the Yougoslavs. With your mental ability you can’t even remember what I have written and distort almost everything I write in your responses. My comment for each his own was for your Bodoki reliability comment. Your Constitution is “Hang him tonight and give him a fair trial tomorrow”. Lynch mob law went out of style with the demise of the KKK, but maybe some blog partixpants think it was a great idea, bahaha Nobody wanted to hang him. Nobody wanted to take away his constitutional rights. People simply wanted him to be arrested and not enjoy the freedom that is not given to anyone under such serious charges. You… Read more »

Guest
Jano
July 26, 2012 12:09 pm

Little off:

I thought I’ve seen every face of OV, but this is a new one:

http://index.hu/gazdasag/magyar/2012/07/26/orban/

Sounds a little defeated to me…would be moving if he also explained why are they doing and saying stuff that are actually just plain stupid…

Member
July 26, 2012 12:28 pm

*** BREAKING NEWS ***

“… and we are hoping that with God’s help, we will not have to create other political systems, that we need to introduce for the economical survival.”

– Viktor Orban, today, 26th of July, 2012, in a speech at the National Association of Entrepreneurs

“… és reméljük a Jóisten megsegít bennünket, hogy a demokrácia helyett nem kell kigondolnunk más típusú politikai rendszereket, amelyeket a gazdasági túlélés érdekében aztán be kelljen vezetni”

Guest
July 26, 2012 12:31 pm

Some1: “You did not believe any of the cahrges against him or that even existed”

Simply, you lie! I never said anything like it. I have not sided with Varga, I stated the wrong info was published about him on the blog. I did not say anything about Kuruc info. I stataed that if there are tax issues in the US the IRS will take care of it.

Regarding Bodoky, I have no respect for folks who want to imitate Asange.

Guest
Jano
July 26, 2012 12:31 pm

I know, right?? What on earth is this whole speech?? I’m really really really sorry but there might be a point when I’ll be actually forced to crown myself against my own will??

Member
July 26, 2012 12:45 pm

Jano :
I know, right?? What on earth is this whole speech?? I’m really really really sorry but there might be a point when I’ll be actually forced to crown myself against my own will??

I’m afraid he didn’t mean kingdom …

Member
Some1
July 26, 2012 1:19 pm

Louis Kovach : Some1: “You did not believe any of the cahrges against him or that even existed” Simply, you lie! I never said anything like it. I have not sided with Varga, I stated the wrong info was published about him on the blog. I did not say anything about Kuruc info. I stataed that if there are tax issues in the US the IRS will take care of it. Regarding Bodoky, I have no respect for folks who want to imitate Asange. You did not spelled it out Kovach, you implied it. Every post you make underscores your unwillingness to remotely agree wit any opinion Eva suggests. Your constant attack agains every single blog entry clearly demonstrates your priorities Kovach. In the entry where Bela Varga’s activities to “protect” the poor, old, 96 years old man were discussed, you raised no issues with Varga’s methods, the blood money, you went ahead and defended the constitutional rights of Csatary (that was NEVER threathened by the way), not the constitutional rights of the protesters, you did not say anything about Varga but used that threat to went your constant iidiocracies. Every single time you call Eva’s integrity and knowledge into… Read more »

Member
Some1
July 26, 2012 1:24 pm

My prevopus pos

Louis Kovach :
Regarding Bodoky, I have no respect for folks who want to imitate Asange.

I guess you do not like investigative journalist. I am not concerned about your like or dislike, simply people have to accept that truth when it is factual. I guess you despised Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein too.

Member
Some1
July 26, 2012 1:27 pm

Mutt Damon :
*** BREAKING NEWS ***
“… and we are hoping that with God’s help, we will not have to create other political systems, that we need to introduce for the economical survival.”
– Viktor Orban, today, 26th of July, 2012, in a speech at the National Association of Entrepreneurs
“… és reméljük a Jóisten megsegít bennünket, hogy a demokrácia helyett nem kell kigondolnunk más típusú politikai rendszereket, amelyeket a gazdasági túlélés érdekében aztán be kelljen vezetni”

small correction:
“… and we are hoping that with God’s help, instead of democracy we will not have to create other political systems, that we need to introduce for the economical survival.”

Member
July 26, 2012 1:45 pm

Oh! Thanks! I was so upset I left out the “best” part.

Guest
Kirsten
July 26, 2012 4:14 pm

So economic survival might be possible only if democracy is suspended? I think it is related to what we were speaking about in the other thread and what has (apparently) happened in Romania as well – in a very complicated situation, the democratic institutions are unable to generate workable solutions in these countries. I for one find it at least honest that this is admitted so that it is clear that those who want democracy really have to make a fresh attempt. That will be easier than the search for how to square democracy with the Viktor Orban-system.

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