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Government official: Hungary ‘expects progress from EU’ on Erasmus+ access

Hungary expects the European Union to give answers and to make progress regarding the country's participation in the Erasmus+ programme for students and professors as "the ban goes against European values", the state secretary for higher education, innovation, training and adult education said in Brussels on Monday.

Speaking after a meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS), Balazs Hanko said there had been no steps taken towards lifting the ban, even though the Hungarian government had sent an amendment package to the EC some six months ago in response to “unfounded proposals of the European Commission on conflicts of interest of board members” of universities undergoing government-sponsored reform, as well as the board members’ eligibility for two six-year terms.

While promoting the importance of international mobility programmes, the EC “is employing double standards and a discriminative decision” to ban 200,000 Hungarian students and 20,000 researchers and lecturers from the programme, he said.

In response, Hungary started the Pannonia Programme “welcoming students and researchers of EU member states and third countries to Hungary”, he said.

Regarding the European degree, proposed as part of a comprehensive European higher education programme, Hanko said that while such a degree would provide a simpler system of recognition, the contents and criteria of the proposal were unclear.

Hungary believes in university autonomy and cooperation, “but Hungary will not allow Brussels to dictate the contents of the training for a European degree, or the regulations or financing related to it”, Hanko said. During its EU presidency, the country will promote a proposal “aiding Europe’s competitiveness and keeping higher education a national competency”, he said.

Europe will be competitive only if it takes the Hungarian model as an example, where universities, vocational centres and public education institutes become strategic partners while considering the country’s economic demands, he said.

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