Hungary Bans Gender Studies At Universities ⋆
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Hungary Bans Gender Studies At Universities

The Hungarian government has banned gender studies programs due to a lack of jobs for graduates it claims.

Earlier last week, Hungarian universities were given 24 hours by the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) and the Ministry of Justice (IM) to respond to a proposed amendment which announced no gender studies courses could be launched in the future.

The Central European University’s Department of Gender Studies Homepage.

In an official statement, the Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said that such programs “take valuable resources away from other programs, and deteriorate the economic stability of universities.” He argued, “There is no economic rationale for studies such as these.” A degree in the field does not “furnish students with skills that can be readily and directly converted on the labor market,” he said.

Hungary’s two foremost universities are affected: the largest state-funded university, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (ELTE), and the Central European University (CEU) which is funded by George Soros. The ruling in effect means that nobody can get a degree in gender studies in Hungary, let alone attend courses. As the CEU offers both Hungarian and American degrees, the amendment does not affect the latter of the two.

Political activist and business magnate, George Soros.

Additionally, the gender studies masters program, the ministry argues, takes away resources from other courses and detrimentally affects the economic stability of universities. Members of the Hungarian government have been criticising gender studies courses stating that it is an ideology, as opposed to a science.

Signaling the minor demand for gender studies among Hungarian students and employers, Kovacs acknowledged government resources should not be wasted on supposedly impractical university programs. “State universities operated from public funds must take these factors into consideration since the purpose of these institutions of higher education is to meet genuine social and labor market needs,” he explained.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left).

The number of students affected by the ban is extremely small, with only 11 applicants admitted at ELTE and 2 at CEU for the subject. In fact, the maximum number of students that ELTE can admit in any given year is 18. Those enrolled this coming academic year will be the last batch to take this program in the Central European country. Kovas cited these low numbers as one of the reasons for the decision stating that it is “questionable to what extent studies with admittedly such low student numbers are economical and sustainable.”

EMMI reiterated that there was absolutely no interest for gender studies in the country’s job market and that the course itself is economically irrational. Therefore, they believe it is not offered to give students useful knowledge, but rather to serve other interests.

The move comes after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government won a comfortable majority in the country’s April elections. Since then his Fidesz Party has been implementing key parts of its election policies much to the chagrin of its detractors.

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