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As the new academic year is approaching, Hungary’s government has drafted a proposal to strike gender studies out of the curricula of the country’s universities. The controversial proposal is said to have come directly from Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban. Presently, only one private institution, the CEU, offers courses in gender studies and even though there were plans in public institutions to offer gender studies as well, the newly issued ban would prevent this from happening.
In spite of the ongoing attacks from European populist politicians concerning the potential harm gender studies may pose, it still came as a surprise that the Hungarian government would attempt to directly influence academic curricula. Moreover, university rectors were given less than 18 hours to respond to the proposals - in the process, no experts and academics were consulted. Gender study programmes have been heavily criticized by some political parties, especially by the Christian democrats. Gender studies, they argue, are an ideology masquerading as an academic discipline, and hostile to traditional European family values. The Hungarian government furthermore argues that these courses are economically irrelevant and a waste of resources, because they do not prepare graduates for the Hungarian job market. Furthermore, it is argued that graduates of gender studies cannot work outside academia, and that Hungary is not in need of experts in a field of “pseudoscience”. There are doubts if the ban is in compliance with the Hungarian constitution and with the EU law.
In the meantime, CEU announced on its website that it regrets to have been forced to immediately suspend its education programmes for registered refugees and asylum seekers, the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve), together with the administration of its European Union-funded Marie Curie Grant on migration policy in Central and Southern Europe.
With this step, CEU has reacted to the Hungarian legislation in respect of refugees and immigration which came into effect on August 24. CEU’s action follows advice from their tax advisors in respect of potential liability for a 25% levy on immigration related programmes. The university stressed that the programme might be revived depending on the outcome of steps to clarify the tax and legal situation.
More information here