ECREA is deeply concerned about continuing suppression of academic freedom and mounting pressures on autonomy of universities in Hungary.
The actions against universities and academics in Hungary begun in 2017 when the government of Prime Minister Victor Orban proposed legislation endangering the existence of Central European University in Budapest. As a result, the university had to relocate to Vienna (see ECREA public statement https://ecrea.eu/news/4850901). Similar pressures are presently exerted to remove gender studies programs in Hungary (see ECREA public statement https://www.ecrea.eu/news/6883754) and to change management of several universities.
The government of Prime Minister Orban is continuing with intimidation of academics and students, limiting the academic freedoms and implementing of the ongoing climate of fear. In September, the government moved to a forced takeover University of the Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest (SZFE), transferring the control of the public institution to a private foundation and depriving University bodies of their autonomous decision-making powers.
The university management and staff responded with resignations and strike while the students have been occupying the university premises since beginning of September to prevent the takeover of the university.
ECREA strongly condemns this and other actions against autonomy of universities in Hungary. ECREA strongly condemns the fact that a politically-motivated takeover of the University of the Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest (SZFE) has jeopardised the study process at the institution and is therefore directly damaging both students and lecturers. Suppression of intellectual freedoms, fundamental human rights and civic dialogue cannot lead to building of democratic, just and prosperous societies.
ECREA therefore calls upon Hungarian authorities to nullify the latest decree and refrain from further interventions which would limit academic freedoms and autonomy of universities and contribute to perpetuation of the climate of fear.
In the light of this, ECREA would also like to express its continuous support to our Hungarian members and colleagues and to students and lecturers of the University of the Theatre and Film Arts in Budapest (SZFE).