Hungary’s government is withdrawing an earlier decision to require a mid-level foreign language exam for admission to an institution of higher education, Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said at a regular press briefing on Thursday.
Introducing the requirement would have created serious difficulties in some areas of study, such as agriculture, Gulyás said.
He added that the National Union of Students in Hungary (HÖOK), the network of Roma colleges and the language teachers association had asked for the requirement to be scrapped.
HÖOK and the PSZ trade union of teachers welcomed the government’s decision to scrap the foreign language exam requirement for tertiary education admission.
PSZ said in a statement that it agreed with the need for more young people to speak at least one foreign language but the current public education system was not up to the task of preparing students to meet language exam requirements. HÖOK said competitive language skills were indeed vitally important for young people but the public education system should be capable of providing the relevant training first.
On another topic, Gulyás said
the government had raised funding for health insurance by over 34 billion forints (EUR 102.5m), mainly to make certain health-care treatments, such as products for treating breast or lung cancer, more accessible.
The government has also decided to support the foundation of a museum and conference centre named after Cardinal József Mindszenty in Zalaegerszeg, in south-western Hungary, and an integrated centre for head-related surgeries in Szeged, in southern Hungary, he said.
Responding to a question on the EU budget, Gulyás said most member states did not regard the proposal submitted by the outgoing European Commission to be open to debate and an agreement was unlikely to be reached, even under the Croatian EU presidency, given the current chasm of opinion between them. A deal may be reached during Germany’s presidency since Germany had the muscle to persuade the various sides to reach an agreement, he suggested.
Gulyás said Hungary was a standard-bearer for European enlargement, adding the government had been assured that Olivér Várhelyi, Hungary’s commissioner nominee, would receive the enlargement and neighborhood portfolio, and, to his knowledge, this was still the state of affairs.
Meanwhile, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said any debate concerning Hungary and the euro was “academic”. Hungary, he noted, had undertaken to adopt the single currency at some point but not by a specific deadline.