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Socialists call on government to address ‘plight’ of higher education

The Socialists are calling on the government to start talks on wage hikes at state-run universities, similarly to those that have been transferred to foundations under the government's university restructuring scheme in recent years, the head of the opposition party's board said on Wednesday.

“The atmosphere is tense in several of Hungary’s prominent universities where teachers and other employees have launched a petition for higher wages,” Istvan Hiller, a former education minister, told an online press conference.

Wages had been hiked at universities that agreed to participate in the structural reform but not at outliers, Hiller said. The wage tension had been exacerbated by primary and secondary school teachers’ wage hikes last year, which resulted in “some students earning more a year after graduation than their university lecturers,” he said

Hiller also called for a review of the restructuring, which he said “has failed to yield benefits”. “Operation has become more complicated, red tape has grown but not the general quality [of education]… Although the state is no longer an owner of these universities, it continues to finance them.”

He called for the state to maintain research universities outside Budapest too.

The party is also calling on the government to take steps for Hungarian higher education and research to “re-enter EU circulation”, he said. Researchers “have fallen prey to a debate between the government and the EU”, and had been excluded from cooperation with other EU institutions, he added.

He said the government should “stop discriminating against universities that chose to remain autonomous”.

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