Hungary’s higher education system is “extremely inflexible”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a radio interview on Friday.
“Whereas in the past we could be very proud of our universities, nowadays we have less reason to be,” he said. “There’s more in the higher education system that what is being extracted from it right now”. “So much change is needed,” he said, adding that the world’s best universities were all run flexibly to some degree. After a small number of universities were restructured, seeing its positive impact, other universities followed suit, he said. Never before have universities enjoyed as much support as they do now, Orbán said.
The prime minister said that whereas university foundations elsewhere in the world had been established more organically, this had not been possible in Hungary since “the Communists nationalised everything”. Had that not been the case, universities would now be in better shape, he said. Orbán insisted that the assets of foundations would be used solely for educational purposes, and the universities would be insulated from government influence. Orbán called the “left-wing’s attack” on the transformation “political” and branded the Hungarian left wing as “internationalist”, adding that the best universities were “national”. The government, he added, did not intend for them to be globalist.
Meanwhile, addressing criticism that government emergency support during the pandemic was insufficient, the prime minister said such support was never enough. “Whoever receives it always complains they could have got more.” He said government support was enough to reboot the economy. Support in itself, however, was not the measure of success, he said, adding that people who have run a business for a long time have had to overcome obstacles through hard work, and this is why the government has extended the period during which they receive wage subsidies and it is providing investment subsidies.
Orbán noted that the government body responsible for coordinating policies to relaunch the economy will soon be up and running and the government is working to restore the 13-month pension, while it has also made the personal income of the under-25s exempt from tax.