The Right Turn in Hungarian Higher Education Policy

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 251 (University of Glasgow)
Norbert Sabic , Central European University
As right-wing political parties gain momentum in a growing number of European countries, one has to question if, and in what sense, this shift could transform the previously established principles of the European Higher Education Area. For more than a decade, higher education has been conceptualized in policy discussions as the instrument for European integration, mobility, and economic growth. These principles emerged in the era of a liberal political dominance and served the vision to make Europe the most competitive and the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world. However, the rise of right-wing politics foreshadows a general disillusionment with such liberal principles. Political forces built on the basis of nativism, authoritarianism, and populism are often at odds with greater internationalization of higher education (perceived as a loophole for immigration) or with increased institutional autonomy (perceived as a possible source for abuse of public trust and resources). Undoubtedly, Hungary has one of the most right-wing leaning parliament and government in Europe, which makes it a timely case-study for exploring the ‘right turn’ in the national higher education policy. The study examines the measures undertaken by the Hungarian government in the past five years in a number of areas, including the governance of higher education, the mobility of staff and students, and the financing of higher education institutions. The aim of this study is to depict whether right-wing politics can represent a continuation of the previously established principles of the European Higher Education Area or if there are larger transformations ahead.