Trading scholarship for freedom to move

Nieuws | de redactie
26 oktober 2011 | Hungary fights brain drain by obliging students to stay in the country between 7 and 20 years upon graduation. This is the price they will pay for receiving free higher education. “College and university are not for the lazy and mediocre but for diligent and gifted students,” the government says.

Currently, there are around 54.000 Hungarians enjoying statefunded free higher education. The government plans to cut thisnumber in half by budgeting for 25.000 free spots in 2012.Education state secretary Rózsa Hoffmann commented that “collegeand university are not for the lazy and mediocre but for diligentand gifted students.” A more selective approach to statescholarships were therefore necessary, the government stresses.

Free but unfree

Only students that perform very well during the universityentrance exams are considered for free higher education while therest has to pay. Hungary was criticized in the past for thisapproach since students from families with higher socio-economicstatus tended to do better during these exams.

In another move which is meant to fight brain drain Hungary isto implement legislation that requires those students that areexempted from tuition fees to stay between 7 and 20 years in thecountry upon graduation.

Breaking a EU cornerstone

The European Students’ Union harshly criticizes this as anattack on the right of free movement and laments that the number ofstate funded student places is cut in half for 2012. In response to this development, Allan Päll,Chairperson of ESU said that “if Hungary demands students to signcontracts forcing them to work only in Hungary after graduation,then this is a direct restriction on the right to free movement,which is one of the cornerstones of the EU.”

“If students are forced to pay the state funding back if theydecide to work abroad, then this is as an indirect restriction,which also goes against the right to free movement. We are verycurious to hear what Brussels thinks about these proposals andwhether Hungary has already discussed any of these with them.”

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