The European Parliament – Photo: wikipedia

Hungary university leaders attend EP hearing

The rector of Semmelweis University called the European Union's decision "excluding its students, and indeed all Hungarian medical and health science institutions, from the European student exchange program baffling, inexplicable and devastating" at a hearing of the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday.

Speaking at the hearing attended by Hungarian rectors, researchers and students, Bela Merkely said that the Council decision adopted on December 15, under which the universities managed under a new model and their students cannot participate in the Erasmus and Horizon programmes in 2024, led to damage not related to the protection of EU funds.

The decision will cause irreversible and disproportionate damage and will adversely affect both the scientific and student communities of the universities, Merkely said.

All this without any objections from the European Commission or the Council of the European Union regarding the operation of the university, he argued. The decision on the universities managed under the new model did not contain any justification, which would clarify or explain the sanctions imposed on Semmelweis, he added.

Merkely noted that Semmelweis University appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union to represent the interests of its teachers, researchers and students. It would like to see “this exclusionary decision withdrawn”, and to ensure that in the future no sanctions are imposed on a higher education institution without a precise assessment of how and when it has violated the rule of law and the harm it has caused to the EU, he added.

“We would also like for the universities to be involved in consultations on the measures that affect them,” he said. “We believe that the Council of the EU should revise decisions that exclude Semmelweis University and its researchers from shaping the future, and our students from the free movement and exchange of experience in Europe.”

Levente Kovacs, the rector of Obuda University, said education should be depoliticised. He said the Council decision adopted in December endangered several of the projects the university had applied for and put students, researchers and teachers at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Gyula Kasza, associate professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, said the EU’s decision hurt the university’s reputation, leading to “inestimable financial and moral loss”.


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