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Opposition: No politician should be board member of university foundations

The Democratic Coalition (DK), Jobbik, Momentum and LMP opposition parties have issued a statement objecting to the government policy of allowing politicians to sit on the boards of trustees of universities run by foundations.

The statement was made after a press report suggesting that universities run by foundations will not receive fresh funding as part of the EU’s Erasmus programme – under which students from Hungary can study abroad — and Horizon Europe research and innovation schemes.

DK is introducing a bill to prohibit state leaders and incumbent lawmakers from sitting on boards of trustees of universities managed by foundations, the party’s deputy group leader, Gergely Arato, told an online press briefing on Monday. He added that the European Commission had already declared as “unacceptable” the government putting public universities “in the hands of trustees led by politicians”.

Jobbik deputy group leader Koloman Brenner said students and lecturers should not be punished for the government’s policy of putting certain universities into the hands of foundations. He called on the government to start negotiations with foundation-run institutions — especially the large scientific universities — on returning them to the state as a matter of urgency.

Momentum MEP Katalin Cseh said in a statement that her party had turned to the Commission asking it not to exclude Hungarian students from the Erasmus programme owing to “the corruption of [PM Viktor] Orban and his people”.

LMP said in a statement that the ruling Fidesz party had not consulted anyone before changing the Hungarian university system. Reforming Hungary’s higher education sector, it added, was “a national matter”, and the country’s future prosperity was at stake. LMP wants strict rules on conflict of interest to be established, it said.

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