In the second spontaneous this week, roads and bridges were blocked during peak traffic while thousands of students marched from Budapest’s University of Technology and Economics to the Ministry of Economy. The protest was a direct reaction to Hungary’s center-right government intention to keep the budget deficit below the European Union’s 3 percent ceiling. This objective leads to painful cuts in central Europe’s most indebted economy.
“This is just the last drop”
“The biggest problem is the dictatorial system which is disguised as democracy, that people do not have a say in their own country’s legislation,” Balazs Tahi-Toth, 22, who is studying to be an engineer, “This was just the last drop.”
Orban’s government presented its budget-cuts in higher education last week. From next year it plans to fully finance only 10.480 students, two-thirds fewer than this year. It will partly finance the tuition of 46,000 more and offer subsidized preferential-rate student loans.
The protesting students fear that this will lead to a brain-drain. Students that can not afford an education in Hungary might seek a place in other countries, like Austria where higher education is free. “I have three younger sisters who want to go to higher education and it does not seem that we will be able to pay the tuition or take out a student loan… I don’t think it would be a responsible idea to become indebted in this debt crisis,” said Zsombor Cseh, 22, student at the Corvinus University. “This loan would solve the problem only if we could be sure that we will find a decent job with a decent pay.”