Very unhappy university students in Hungary

It was on February 18, 2012 that I reported on the meeting of the leaders of HÖOK, the nationwide student association that I described as Viktor Orbán’s “willing instrument” and his “regime’s KISZ.” A day before I wrote about Hungarian higher education and pointed out Viktor Orbán’s devilish plan to divide the students by introducing tuition fees (for the sake of my British friends!) only for incoming freshmen and leaving upperclassmen to finish their education free of charge. Knowing the unfortunate lack of solidarity in Hungarian society it was predictable–or at least Viktor Orbán so assumed–that this strategy would be a kind of insurance policy for avoiding mass protest and indignation.

For a while it seemed to have worked. HÖOK and Rózsa Hoffmann had some fruitless negotiations, but there was no widespread outcry. The upperclassmen didn’t give a hoot about how many students were eligible for tuition-free education, and when the numbers were reduced from about 60,000 to 30,000 there wasn’t a peep. Mind you, at this point the exact size of the tuition fees was not yet available. It was at this point that after negotiations between HÖOK and Rózsa Hoffmann broke down, Orbán sent Tibor Navracsics to talk with Dávid Nagy, the chairman of the student organization. Nagy was enthusiastic about the encounter. He announced that in one hour more had been accomplished than in the previous five months. Moreover, Nagy was also gratified that the prime minister agreed to meet with him. Obviously Orbán charmed the two student representatives, Nagy and Imre Csiszár. I think the picture that I’m republishing here says it all.

Aren't we friendly?

Aren’t we friendly?

However, when about a week ago the size of the fees was divulged and when it was announced that instead of 30,000 only 10,000 students would be eligible for subsidized studies even HÖOK had had enough. An account of David Nagy’s change in attitude between November 2011 and now can be found on this blog. Another blog published this picture of Tibor Navracsics and David Nagy, the generously rewarded student leader, taken after their successful meeting:

"So, you will quiet then my dear little David?" "With several hundreds of thousands one can easily get by."

“So, you will quiet then my dear little David?” “With several hundreds of thousands one can easily get by.”

Nagy’s alleged answer recalls an old song from the 1930s that says that if someone has a monthly salary of 200 pengős all his troubles are gone. Attila József used this line as a reference in his famous poem “For my birthday” where he wrote that, although thirty-two years had gone by, he never earned 200 pengős a month.

Even some conservative commentators, for example the editor-in-chief of Mandiner, are outraged because after all four years ago Fidesz forced a referendum on the issue. The results of a referendum tie the government’s hands for three years, but after that they can do anything they want. Or, at least Viktor Orbán thought that he could redraw the map.  But it seems that his latest move may have outraged too many people, including the professors and administrators of the colleges and universities.

Yet even as the government is cutting the number of university students and slashing financial aid, his “right hand” spun a different story. Only yesterday György Matolcsy in a speech delivered on the occasion of signing yet another “strategic contract,” this time with GE, told those present that the Orbán government is planning to double the number of university students in the fields of engineering, natural science, and computer science. He added that in two or three years’ time the number of students in these fields would reach 40,000. Upon hearing these “fairy tale”  figures a Hungarian speaker would exclaim: “And the ceiling didn’t fall on him!”

Yesterday afternoon about 1,500 students demonstrated. The demonstration was spontaneous, decided on after a meeting organized by HaHa, the smaller student organization comprised of students dissatisfied with HÖOK. For a while the students even closed off Petőfi Bridge. HÖOK and HaHa are organizing another meeting at the engineering school in the same hall in which students drafted their famous twelve points in October 1956. The choice was deliberate. In Szeged about 50 students occupied a government office and today they were followed by students in Miskolc. The students in Pécs are also organizing.

The students in Budapest invited Viktor Orbán to attend their meeting tomorrow but naturally he declined. He would be going into the lions’ den. Instead of accepting the invitation he wrote a letter to Dávid Nagy in which he told the student leaders that he, Rózsa Hoffmann, and most recently Zoltán Balog have always been completely honest with them. They were told about the government’s plans. The only problem is that the student leaders don’t remember any of it. Orbán suggested that the student leaders talk with Zoltán Balog, who immediately extended an invitation to them. The students refused to meet Balog.

Yesterday the students demanded Rózsa Hoffmann’s resignation. And this afternoon Népszabadság published an article entitled “What a surprise! Rózsa Hoffmann doesn’t resign.” The short news item also reported that “they are planning to negotiate with HÖOK, the legitimate representative of the university students.” Oh, yes, divide et impera! But I don’t think that will work.

I certainly don’t expect another ’56. But, as we know, there are tipping points, where a tiny immediate cause can have a relatively massive effect.

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gdfxx
Guest

“I certainly don’t expect another ’56. But, as we know, there are tipping points, where a tiny immediate cause can have a relatively massive effect.”

Let’s hope this is one of those tipping points.

Punditka
Guest

the orbans have stones in place of hearts.
an ordinary person can not be as cruel as the orban,
he and his corrupted supporters sin every day.
no one on this planet will be able to cleanse this unfortunate group of hungarians who created the inner circle of this crime syndicate.

Petofi1
Guest

Punditka :
the orbans have stones in place of hearts.
an ordinary person can not be as cruel as the orban,
he and his corrupted supporters sin every day.
no one on this planet will be able to cleanse this unfortunate group of hungarians who created the inner circle of this crime syndicate.

Orban has a fixation of Hate for the Hungarian people that is unmeasurable.
How much worse the Catholic Church for not attempting to stop him…?

Petofi1
Guest

Make that, “immeasurable”…

fffredgt
Guest
Mandiner does not criticize the move based on substantive arguments, they simply worry that the move is bad as a matter of popularity and it is bad for Mandiner (which consists mostly of people in early thirties late twenties), which now has a difficulty to defend the move before their friends and acquaintances. Although in this respect I guess they have been in a difficult situation lately. Orbáns’s power should not be underestimated (although this image of an invincible, evil genious is also part of his myth). But no other politicain has such an ability and willingness to try to act on people’s emotions. Bajnai may be a nice rational person but he and his firends are all too Western and modern to base their politics on emotions. You may win even is your are not charismatic (Zapatero, Merkel, W), but for a landslide (which is needed I think to rearrange the constitutinal system in order to govern) I think you need to be charismatic as well. Orbán can and dares to play on people’s fears, anxieties, hopes, hates, their need to adore someone etc — and people are human, not rational automatons. And so he has a great advantage… Read more »
Guest

A bit OT:

These two “student representatives” look a bit old to me …

Actually one of my wife’s sons and his wife are also struggling to meet ends meet because they also have to pay back their students’ loans from the meagre money they both make.

They couldn’t even afford their own apartment without our help – can you imagine a couple in their thirties with a child living with the mother in a two room apartment ? Especially when he does as much of his work as possible on the computer at home …

And these are academic professionals – although maybe a craftsman makes more money if he can do enough jobs on the side …

LwiiH
Guest

It’s about time someone started protesting….

OT, the law was passed allowing those who invest 250,000Euros in government bonds to gain residency. The Swiss and US models were mentioned but of course mis-reprented. The US model is there to allow entrepreneurs invest in businesses that create jobs, not paper over the governments mis-management and over-spending.

Guest

London Calling!

fffredgt – not only the NBH reserves to buy votes……

He is already preparing for the 2014 election by reducing fuel bills by 10% which will bankrupt already loss-making energy companies.

I bet the prices will go back up – with a vengeance – as soon as his success at the polls is confirmed after a ‘dignifying’ period so as not to make it look too obvious.

With the purchase of E.ON – he is bankrupting his own state company! It will be another burden on the budget.

This is economics of the mad-house. A fairytale mad-house.

All part of Matolcsy’s prediction that the economy will grow in 2013 – from a deepening recessional 2012. He’s a magician!

Orban and Matolcsy are absolutely right when they say all the EU countries are following their examples for their own economies.

….of what NOT to do.

Regards

Charlie

Paul
Guest

wolfi :
A bit OT:
These two “student representatives” look a bit old to me …
Actually one of my wife’s sons and his wife are also struggling to meet ends meet because they also have to pay back their students’ loans from the meagre money they both make.
They couldn’t even afford their own apartment without our help – can you imagine a couple in their thirties with a child living with the mother in a two room apartment ? Especially when he does as much of his work as possible on the computer at home …
And these are academic professionals – although maybe a craftsman makes more money if he can do enough jobs on the side …

Wolfi – this is exactly how many famiies in Hungary do live.

Children and grandchildren living with the parents/grandparents in two or three room houses, with the adults doing two or more jobs is all too common. Hungarians are very good a putting on a respectable ‘face’ – you meet them in the street or as neighbours and they seem comfortably well off, their houses look neat and tidy – but often all this hides overcrowding and lack of money.

fffredgt
Guest

Funny that Jobbik deals with MSZP re the tuition fee issue.

But at the end of the day, Jobbik is not much more than an outsourced extreme right wing arm of Fidesz.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121212_Vona_felsooktatas

Member

So, so far the official response from Fidesz is: “The students who are protesting now will not even be affected by the changes!”
Nice. It is a great summary of the Fidesz politics! SO maybe those parents should wkae up and go with the protesters who have children in high-schoo. I also think that it is time for the High school students to team up with the university students. I certainly had my share as a high school student in protests from 1980 on.

Member

If I recall well, the form of tuition the Gyurcsany government was suggesting was based on how well you do in university. First year you had no tuition and for any consequent year, you would of had to pay according to your performance. THis would create a system where students who actually do the work, and study could go through school paying nothing versus students who are there just to hang out. That was the system the band of Fidesz did not agree with. Now they are saying that their system is nota tuition and it is the real deal that protects all versus the Gyurcsany idea that they were going against at the time. THat is the kind of Matolcsy logic we can all expect from Fidesz by now.

PUN1
Guest

Petofi1: “Orban has a fixation of Hate for the Hungarian people that is immeasurable.
How much worse the Catholic Church for not attempting to stop him…?”

He is well matched by millions of Hungarians, who carry a stone in place of their hearts.

With the exception of many serving good Catholic priests, there is a problem with the Catholic Vatican. Politics as hard as a stone.

The greatest expert on this subject is a Hungarian born Oxford historian: Geza Vermes.

He even published critical articles on the Pope, pointing to his extreme conservatism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermes

Member
Member

“WHere is Orban Viktor now? Is he afraid to meet with his younger self? Its time that instead of sending out national consultation papers who would come down and meet with us.”

Pete H.
Guest

Another livestream source: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ertunk-hu

‎”Hoffmann Rózsa, gyere ki a hóra!”

Member

“Plagiarizing is cheaper than getting a degree”

– Banner in the student demo in the city of Gyor

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