The statement of the European University Association, 21 February 2019
ALLEA (ALL European Academies), the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, published a statement on 15 February calling on the Hungarian government to cease its infringements on the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of the Hungarian Academy, a long-standing member of ALLEA.
ALLEA’s statement comes after the government of Viktor Orbán proposed a re-organisation of the Academy’s structure, which would gravely endanger the future funding of all scientific disciplines and particularly threaten research in the humanities.
EUA supports ALLEA, its partner organisation, in calling on the Hungarian government to uphold and assure the autonomy of academic institutions, as guaranteed in Article X of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, and enable the scientific community to play its role in contributing to the country’s social and economic well-being. EUA also joins ALLEA in expressing its solidarity with and support for the researchers and staff affiliated with the Hungarian Academy.
The Hungarian government’s move against its country’s Academy of Sciences and Humanities raises renewed concerns regarding the negative trajectory of university autonomy and academic freedom in Hungary. This is demonstrated particularly in the deliberate targeting by Prime Minister Orbán’s government of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, which in December 2018 announced that it would move a large part of its activities to Vienna for the 2019-2020 academic year, leading to the first forced closure of a major university in an EU country. Other infringements on academic freedom and institutional autonomy have included a government ban on gender studies programmes, an unusually high tax on programmes for refugees and asylum seekers and the intimidation of academics in the Hungarian media.
EUA would like to emphasise once again that these developments, which are unprecedented in the European Union, are highly damaging to the country’s reputation and have worrying implications for research and higher education, both in Hungary and in Europe as a whole. EUA will continue to monitor the situation and support its members and partners.