Parliament approved on Tuesday the transfer several universities from the state to private foundations, paving the way for 70 percent of students to pursue their studies under the new model from this autumn.
The cardinal law submitted by Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics received 134 votes in support and 59 votes against.
In line with the decision, the universities of Szeged, Dunaújváros, Pécs, Nyíregyháza and Debrecen, the Hungarian Dance Academy, the newly formed Tokaj-Hegyalja University, the Budapesti University of Economics, the University of Physical Education, Semmelweis University and Rudolf Kálmán University of Óbuda will be run by fundations. Five additional fondations have been set up for additional purposes, and the Eszterházy Károly University of Eger will be transferred to the Catholic church.
The law on public interest asset management foundations lists a total of 32 foundations, of which 21 will be in charge of running higher education institutions.
Tamás Schnada, a state secretary at the ITM, said in the general debate of the bill that a strategy already drafted in 2016 was being implemented. He said that a more independent and autonomous form of organisation would help universities integrate into the economy better, and, he added,
their financial autonomy would be guaranteed.
LMP: Today ‘dark day’ in post-1990 Hungarian politics
The opposition LMP party has branded Tuesday — the day the government is asking lawmakers approve a bill seeking to transfer various state assets to private foundations — as a “dark day” in post-1989/90 Hungarian politics.
László Keresztes, LMP’s group leader, noted MPs are voted to “outsource” about 1,000 billion forints (EUR 2.75bn) in public assets and to bring “almost all” of Hungarian higher education under political control via foundations that, he said the ruling Fidesz party planned to control.
The LMP politician also slammed a move to import “a Chinese Communist Party university” to Hungary, putting Hungary even further into China’s debt.
“Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is … proud to make decisions contrary to Hungarian national interests,” he added.
Some of Europe’s best universities are state-maintained, Keresztes said, adding that placing Hungarian institutions under private foundations would harm their autonomy.
Opposition parties, he said, agreed on restoring universities and outsourced public property restored to the state should they win the 2022 general election.