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Opposition parties welcome departure of ministers from boards of university foundations

The opposition Socialists, Parebeszed and DK welcomed on Thursday the government's decision to withdraw ministers from the boards of asset management foundations of universities.

The parties also called for stricter rules on conflict of interest.

In reaction to head of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyas’s announcement concerning the university foundations made at a government press briefing earlier in the day, Socialist lawmaker Istvan Hiller said the success of talks with the European Union hinged on the decision to withdraw the relevant board members, so the government was left with little choice in the matter.

He noted that the Socialists had never supported the transfer of state-run universities to foundations, calling it “an attempt by power holders to occupy” academia. Meanwhile, standards in higher education were not improving, he added.

Parbeszed said in a statement that by withdrawing ministers, the government had admitted that the foundations set up from taxpayers’ money “purely served to steal public assets and maintain direct political control”.

The party called on the government to approve a proposal by lawmaker Tamas Mellar concerning rules on conflict of interest and restore universities’ full autonomy, independence and transparent operations.

DK’s Balazs Barkoczi, the shadow minister for education and culture, also called on the government to approve the proposal on stricter conflict-of-interest regulations and exclude from university boards “all politicians, state and local council leaders, and other commissioners with political links, as well as their family members and people with whom they share any business interests.”

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