university Hungary higher education

A third of Hungarian university students are planning to settle down abroad permanently, while an even higher proportion hope to work abroad for a couple of years at least. Amongst university and college students Momentum is the most popular party. They also oppose all traditional left-wing parties.

As reported by, a significant proportion of university and college students are actively thinking of moving abroad, whether for the short-term or a more extended period. Most of them are motivated by the better quality of life and higher salaries offered outside of Hungary. While many are thinking of working abroad for a couple of years and then returning home, the worrying finding from the study conducted by “Active Youth” in 2019 is that one-third of Hungarians in higher education want to settle permanently in another country.

The study also considered young people’s political views. In an interview, researcher Andrea Szabó told that Orbán’s government is unable to influence young people’s political outlook – Hungary’s students are pro-West, which can be deduced from their voting pattern as well.

Medical students and students on other health-related courses are the most likely to pursue opportunities abroad, even more so than IT and engineering students.

The study only considers Hungarian students studying in Hungary. Researchers estimate that 5-10% of all Hungarian students are enrolled at higher education institutions abroad. This group is even less likely to return home.

Besides, knowledge inequality is also growing in Hungary; 60% of students at universities have at least one parent with a degree. This means that young people from this group are 2-3 times more likely to go to university than youth who do not have parents who went to university.

Out of all societal groups, it appears that students are the most interested in politics; merely 10% stated that they are not interested. Their political philosophy has shifted too. In 2011 40% believed democracy was the best political system, while in 2019 this figure rose to 57%. With Orbán’s political position solidifying, less and less Hungarian students accept a dictatorial regime.

The Hungarian student population is becoming increasingly polarised into two parties: pro- and anti-Fidesz. 77% of student Fidesz-KDNP sympathisers feel confident about the future, while 70-90% of non-Fidesz-KDNP student voters are not satisfied with the way democracy is operating in the country.

So how would the political map change if only students voted? Momentum would just about outperform Fidesz by gaining 22% of votes, while the ruling party would only receive a 21% allocation. Jobbik would come third with 19% of votes and the joke political party called the “Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party” would receive an allocation as high as 17% of votes.  Left-winged parties such as MSZP and DK would not even get into parliament. The results suggest that Hungarian students are shifting towards the centre-right and they are most likely to vote liberal parties. The majority of them are Europhiles and pro-Western, who are willing to support pro-environmental politics.

What makes this study interesting is that the students involved in the study have lived a significant portion of their life in the “Orbán-era”. Despite this, the government was unable to influence their views and gain their support.

While students today are active on social media, they are less likely to go out and protest. Is the way we discuss politics changing? We will only know this when our Facebook-savvy children grow up.

In March we reported that the number of Hungarian students studying in the UK increased by 31% in the space of three years. Students in Hungary have also been protesting against government plans to introduce compulsory language exams for higher education entry.


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