Strongest opposition party worried for academic freedom and university autonomy

Triggering serious debates in Hungary, the government has transferred the state funding for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) to the newly established Innovation and Technology Ministry (ITM).

According to academics this doesn’t help the effectiveness of science, creates messy situations and the autonomy of research can also be harmed. The government’s 2019 budget bill has been approved on Friday but the pro-government majority of the parliament.

Academic freedom and university autonomy must be preserved, Jobbik lawmaker Koloman Brenner stressed at a press conference in front of the MTA on Saturday.

Koloman Brenner said that after the final vote on the budget it became clear that from now on its the ITM that decides about the almost 70 billion HUF budget of Hungarian science.

He reminded that the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – of which he is a member – decided that a comprehensive report should be made about the possible threats to academic freedom and university autonomy.

According to the lawmaker, a policy debate is needed to ensure that the structure of the MTA and the funding of Hungarian scientific research is used properly. He stressed that the MTA’s structure is outdated and should be modernised. He added that scientific research at universities should receive a much higher funding from the budget and the low salaries of teachers should also be raised.

Laszlo Palkovics, the head of the ITM told Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap that prioritised areas should be determined to distribute research funds.

According to the minister, it’s not an acceptable argument to say that „we will decide what we want to research because it’s part of our autonomy,” because it’s not like this anywhere else in the world, neither in the EU nor in the USA.

Hungary Journal
Photo: Wikipedia

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