2.2 euros. This is the hourly wage in Hungary for a junior assistant professor possessing one or more language exams, a Master’s degree, and either being in the process of completing a PhD program or already having finished it.
The Ministry for Innovation and Technology tried to convince institutions of higher education in the countryside to change to the foundation model with a two-time 15% raise in their employees’ wages. Indeed, the raise would be very much needed; however, not solely in the case of universities that adopted the foundation model.
Salaries are so low that today, an elementary school teacher earns better than a junior assistant professor who has either already acquired their PhD qualification or is very close to concluding the program.
Furthermore, this sum of 2.2 euros is not only way below the average wage of someone holding a university degree, but even a student working in the summer tends to be paid better.
It is especially sad as, for 147 thousand forints net a month (408 euros), expectations are very high. “They do research and publish studies, teach students, and work as thesis advisors.
With a bit of an exaggeration, they are the ones working the most in the university educational system, while not even being able to take a bank loan for having such a low income,”
Sándor Dráviczki, president of the Trade Union for Employees in Higher Education (FDSZ), told eduline.hu. The organisation has been attracting public attention to researchers and professors from whom the government expects to lift universities higher on the global list of universities.
In the past months, the Ministry of Innovation was offering a 2-time 15% or a one-time 30% raise in salaries, together with a special individual wage based on performance. FDSZ already asked the Ministry to offer a raise in salary not only for those working in universities that are about to be run by a foundation but also for those that stay in their current form.
In the autumn of 2019, FDSZ also drew up a salary plan worthy for people working in higher education. One of these things was to secure an hourly wage not lower than 1,300 forints (3.6 euros), which is still quite far behind the EU average.
According to previous decisions, this new raise was supposed to be introduced in two parts this January and the same month next year; however, the Secretary of State told FDSZ some weeks ago that this would not happen before September of both years. Furthermore, it requires an official governmental decision as well.
Without a raise, the issue can lead to serious consequences. Since the higher education system mostly consists of older professors, in the upcoming years, when they retire, they will leave a big gap that should be filled with young researchers, professors, and assistants. Since this is not at all an ideal salary, they rather choose to follow their career goals abroad or enter a much more competitive sector.
Even primary and secondary school teacher salaries are more competitive, though they are also outrageously low.
Furthermore, young researchers and teachers are faced with an incredibly interesting fact upon finalising their programs and stepping into the world of being a full-time professor. Their new net salary decreases 30 thousand forints a month (83 euros) compared to the monthly scholarship they had been getting the last two years of their state-supported PhD studies.
What is the situation like with the rest of the professors teaching at universities? Only associate professors and university professors reach the so-called “dream wage” of 1,500 forints/hour (4.1 euros), while the average salary of 438,200 forints gross (1,217 euros) only goes to habilitated professors, which is a title to be reached after concluding the PhD program.
The highest salary in the educational sector is paid to researchers and professors with decades of experience and relevant achievement in their past; however, even their salaries barely reach 390 thousand forints net (1,083 euros ),
without any tax benefits.
What can be done then? The Ministry of Human Resources says that EU tenders provide an extra income that significantly raises the total wages. This is very nice and true; however, there are many courses and programs that have much fewer possibilities to apply for a tender, simply because fewer are available. FDSZ says that they are in favour of tenders, of course, but “the goal is for everyone to be able to live on their normal, basic salary. If they rely too much on tenders, that only steals time from students’ education.”