Hungarian Universities are under immense pressure from the government to suspend certain areas of study. Cases such as that of Hungary is seemingly unprecedented in the European Union, and the acceptance of these regulations form the government puts academic freedom in and around the European Union in danger.
What’s At Stake?
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary recently passed a motion in the Hungarian parliament to ban all gender studies courses and majors at Hungarian Universities. Although Orban claims that the move comes because employers do not categorically hire graduates who complete gender studies degrees, the dangerous precedent is thought to be a political move to quell conservative members of parliament and conservative right wing Orban supporters in the country.
Called “far right populism,” Orban’s newest move is criticized as being anti-constitutional, as the Hungarian constitution expresses freedom of academia. Critics consider this move an assault to liberal democratic values and academic freedom at large. The spike of nationalist groups coming in to power across Eastern Europe and the world at large.
The European Parliament has chosen to pursue action against Orban on charges of eroding core democratic values and the rule of law. The EU has triggered article 7, which could possibly cost Hungary its ability to lose its right to vote on EU decisions. This was accepted on the basis of Hungary creating a serious breach to EU member state values, including freedom of science which is a fundamental value of the European bloc.
The EU is taking proper steps to combat the stifling of academic freedom, unlike South Korea. The government involvement and pressure on the state should be modeled by other “democratic” nations such as those in East Asia if their credibility to govern a free and equal rule is truly a fundamental value.