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Hungarian students gain leverage in their struggle against educational reforms

BUDAPEST – Following a demonstration attended by thousands of students in Hungary over a period of two weeks, the government has shown willingness to negotiate on highly disputed changes to the country’s education system. It seems as the government has backed away from some of its plans to cut the number of free study places offered in 2013 as was decided at the beginning of December.

Negotiations on the educational reforms in Hungary are ongoing and ESU has shown full support to the cause and demands of students there. A number of issues remain to be resolved. One of those is whether tuition fees should be introduced for law and economic faculties. These tuition fees would be the highest ones in Europe when compared to the income levels of average Hungarians. Then there is the so-called students’ contract, which obliges graduates to stay in Hungary for double amount of time that they have spent in Higher Education (in case of 3-year BA, they would have to work in Hungary for 6 years etc.).

HÖOK in the frontline

ESU’s member union, HÖOK, has been in the frontline of these demonstrations which have been widely covered by the media in the past weeks. What started as a students’ protest has now turned into a social movement which is gaining power every day. Hungarian students had a similar experience in 1995 when a massive protest started with over 10 thousand protesters and the organisers say they are willing to mobilise the same power if the government does not listen to their plans.

ESU representatives in Hungary

Karina Ufert, ESU’s Chairperson, and Rok Primozic, ESU’s Vice-Chairperson, have been in Hungary this week where they showed solidarity with their counterparts. “It is inspiring to see what HÖOK has managed to achieve in the past weeks. There were a lot of sceptics at the beginning, saying that it would be pointless to go against the current government. But now the protests, started by students, have turned into an immense social movement,” Ufert says.

The demonstrations, that have been called the “Winter Rose Student Revolution”, are expected to continue for an unspecified amount of time until it has been ensured that students’ concerns will be listened to.

See ESU’s previous press release on the issue here.

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For more information, please contact:

Karina Ufert, ESU Chairperson: +32/473.669.892 // or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 //

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.


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