Home > Uncategorized > From “non-tuition” to no tuition in Hungary?

From “non-tuition” to no tuition in Hungary?

December 15, 2012

By now I really don’t know what to think. Yesterday I talked about the total communication chaos created by the three chief actors in the “tuition fee drama” in Hungary. But today it seems that Viktor Orbán completely reversed himself on the issue. From one extreme to the other. A few months ago he advocated a totally self-financed higher education. Now, out of the blue, it seems that no one will have to pay who receives the minimum 240 points on the entrance examination.

Madness! That’s all I can say. Of course, I have no idea how Matolcsy’s ministry puts together a budget, but one would assume that they included income from tuition fees in their calculations. Although given the incompetence of this crew one never knows. The 2013 budget has been altered twelve times since June and, according to its critics, it  most likely will need further revisions because it overstates economic growth and inflates revenues.

According to a chart showing the mix of private and state financing of higher education in various countries, close to 80% of expenses are currently being paid by the state in Hungary. However, if we can believe Viktor Orbán, from here on Hungary will join Norway, Denmark, Finland and Belgium: the state will finance 90-100% of Hungarian higher education. So, if Matolcsy’s infamous 2013 budget doesn’t include that extra expense, the budget will be in even bigger trouble than it is now.

But there are other problems with this announcement. The catch in this “free” university education is that it comes with a hidden price tag: the personal freedom of young Hungarians. This time not only a portion of the students would be “tied to the land” but everyone. Every doctor, every nurse, every philosopher, every historian, everybody. This “serfdom” will not float in Brussels. It is against the laws of the European Union, which grant freedom of movement to all citizens of the European Union.

Pál Schmitt and Zsolt Semjén: "whose diploma cost nothing is worth nothing"

Pál Schmitt and Zsolt Semjén: “Whoever gets a diploma that costs nothing is worth nothing” / Gábor Pápai, Népszava*

I have other objections to these proposed changes. Some of them are professional, others philosophical. First, I think a reasonably set tuition fee is absolutely necessary to maintain academic excellence, especially if scholarships are awarded on the strength of individual merit. Second, I have grave objections to the entrance exams in their present form. Back when I used to receive hard copies of Rubicon, the popular history magazine, once a year I also got a list of the exam questions pertaining to history at different universities. I was truly horrified. Facts, facts, and more facts. Nothing else. What are these exams suppose to measure? How good a memory a student has and how long he can retain these facts after he crams for the entrance exams? They certainly don’t measure intelligence, logic, and the comprehension of larger issues. To fill universities with people who reach the minimum requirement of 240 points on examinations like the ones I saw does not ensure the excellence of Hungarian universities. So, the selection process itself is problematic.

Third, and this is a financial problem, higher education according to the 2013 budget will receive considerably less money from the central government. Obviously, or at least I hope it was obvious to the drafters of the budget, these new figures reflected a smaller student body due to the introduction of tuition fees. I’m pretty sure that the government was looking forward to fewer students and therefore fewer professors. A lot of  instructors were shaking in their boots already. But if the same number of students will enter college in September as before, what will happen to the financing of the universities?

On the plus side–that is, if we can take Viktor Orbán’s words at face value–at least the state will not play the role of the old communist central planning agency (Tervhivatal). As we know, central planning didn’t work and severe shortages, especially in the early years of the Soviet period, were frequent. In the earlier Orbán scheme the government would in effect decide how many people should study what. We don’t need lawyers, we need engineers. We don’t need economists, we need biologists. In democratic societies people should be free to decide what they want to do with their lives. If I want to waste my time on history no one should prevent me from doing so. And it will be my problem what to do with a B.A. in history. Moreover, no amount of state planning could have turned me into an engineer, a chemist, a mathematician, or a doctor. I had no interest in or talent for these subjects.

Moreover, the whole notion of trying to calculate a country’s future need for engineers or computer scientists is suicidal, especially if the calculations are based on a faulty image of today’s world. Viktor Orbán has this mistaken notion about a “work-based economy,” and for such an economy he envisages the need for a lot of engineers. But Hungary will never be “the country of iron and steel.” That notion pretty well died by the mid-1960s and it will never return. Hungary needs college graduates who can think logically, write clearly, can speak foreign languages, and be adaptable to change. And who love what they do!

——–

*The reference is to János Lázár’s infamous quip about those who don’t manage to become well-off beings are worth nothing.

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  1. Minusio
    December 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm | #1

    Éva: “Hungary needs college graduates who can think logically, write clearly, and be adaptable to change. And who love what they do!”

    I’d like to add to this: … and who know foreign languages. How can you be any good academically if you can’t read what is being published outside of Hungary?

  2. December 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm | #2

    Minusio :

    Éva: “Hungary needs college graduates who can think logically, write clearly, and be adaptable to change. And who love what they do!”

    I’d like to add to this: … and who know foreign languages. How can you be any good academically if you can’t read what is being published outside of Hungary?

    You’re correct, I should have added it. I will correct it.

  3. December 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm | #3

    Well said, Éva. If an education doesn’t teach you to think, what’s the point of it?

    If Dickens understood this in 1854 (Gradgrind and his ‘fact, fact, fact’), why are we still having to fight this battle nearly 160 years later?

    I was very lucky that I was at senior school in the 60s, when education underwent a revolution in the UK. Our English lessons consisted of things like analysing newspaper, TV adverts, etc. I may have come out of school with very little technical knowledge of English grammar, but I knew how to question and analyse – to think for myself.

    But all they seem to care about at school these days is cramming for exams so that the school has a good pass rate – as that is all schools are now judged on.

  4. Minusio
    December 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm | #4

    Paul: Ever heard of the UWCs? The IB? Atlantic College (founded in 1962)?

  5. December 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm | #5

    No, yes and no. But I was aware that many ‘alternative’ schools exist in the UK, we seriously considered trying to get our daughter into one. However,with the limited places available and the fees, there isn’t really much chance of less well-off people like ourselves being able to take advantage of these schools.

    As for the International Baccalaureate, this is frequently put forward over here as an alternative to our A Level exams, but I don’t really know much more about it than that. Oddly, it often seems to be fairly right-wing people proposing this, which has always put me off.

  6. December 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm | #6

    As for Orbán’s ‘serfdom clause’, it is common in the UK for students to have to agree to work for a company for a few years (usually 2 or 3) after they qualify from an apprenticeship, or graduate trainee programme, or sponsored university course, etc. No one regards this as wrong, in fact most people see it as entirely reasonable and acceptable.

    I know this isn’t exactly comparable to OV’s proposal, but I think the key point is time. The EU may even accept this limitation of the person’s right to work anywhere, if it’s only for a few years. And the people themselves would probably accept it as reasonable as a way to pay back some of the money invested in your education by the government – but, again, only if this restriction only applies for the first few years.

    Is Orbán proposing something like this? (And if so, how long is the period you have to work in Hungary?) Or is he mad enough to think he can get away with an indefinite ban on working abroad?

  7. Kirsten
    December 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm | #7

    Paul, I think this is different from working for a firm after apprenticeship. You can stay in Hungary after finishing university – unemployed. The firm would typically be able to employ you – is OV sending then also graduates on forced labour?

  8. Minusio
    December 15, 2012 at 6:20 pm | #8

    @ Paul. The UWCs are almost all scholarship only, so not for rich kids (unless they are gifted). The IB is clearly not right-wing. If you’d like to discuss this in private, Éva will give you my email address.

  9. December 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm | #9

    @Paul, As far as I know the EU already expressed great reservations. Hoffmann was already told about it about a year ago in Brussels.

  10. December 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm | #10

    Slightly OT – but I’ve found out a few things about the English student loan system tonght which may interest others.

    The interest on the loan is based on the rate of inflation, so that the outstanding loan maintains its ‘real value’. So currently interest is about 3.5% – which is coincidentally roughly the current repayment mortgage interest rate. (The interest on a commercial loan would be much higher, but you would never get a commercial loan over this sort of period – and certainly not on these terms!) For incomes above £41,000 (and while the student is studying) the interest rate is 3% + inflation (this threshold rises with inflation).

    If you move abroad you are expected to keep up the repayments. If you don’t, the Student Loans Company can try to get your repayment made by court order (i.e. directly from your employer) or they may cancel the loan and require you to pay the whole thing back as one lump sum. (I have no sources for this, but it’s often reported that this is one area where the system is breaking down, as it is proving very difficult to get money off graduates working abroad.)

    Repayments used to be up to retirement (then 65), but, as of 2007, the loan now expires 30 years after you take it out, whether you’ve repaid it or not.

    The earnings threshold before repayments are taken was set quite low at just under £16,000 a year ($26,000, €20,000, or 5.5m Ft). This is a reasonable salary for a young person without a university education, but rather low for a graduate (it is only about 25% above the legal minimum minimum wage). But recently, with the introduction of much higher tuition fees this year, the threshold has been raised to £21,000, which is a decent starting salary for a graduate. Repayments are graduated, starting at less than 1% of income and rising to 9% as income increases.

    In Scotland the whole thing was scrapped in 2007, so university education is now free there, as long as you are resident in Scotland and studying at a Scottish university. And the Welsh government pays the extra for fees over about £3,500 for Welsh students, even if they aren’t studying in Wales. (Isn’t devolution wonderful?!)

    Tuition fees have just increased to a maximum of £9,000 a year (they were much lower, at £3,375), and many universities (especially the top ones) are charging the maximum for all courses. Some universities charge a range of fees depending on the course chosen and these can be as low as £3,000 a year, but mostly they tend towards the upper end of the spectrum. Universities charging over £6,000 must have in place schemes (bursaries, etc) to attract students from lower income households.

    Maintenance grants are still available, but only where the household income is less than £25,000 a year.

    (Some – or all! – of the above may not be correct, but I have done my best. Unfortunately, everything changed at the beginning of this university year!)

    One last comment – the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that “assuming fees of £7,500, for about half of graduates, the plan is essentially a 9% graduate tax for 30 years, because they will not finish paying off the debt by the 30-year cut-off point” (quote from BBC article). So, not only does this whole complex system not cover the actual cost of university education, it actually fails to even recoup the full cost of the loans. I have no idea how much the Student Loan Company (“a non-profit making, government owned organisation”) itself costs to run, but I imagine it isn’t insignificant.

  11. gdfxx
    December 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm | #11

    In the US there are a few cases of “serfdom”. Those graduating from military academies – that are tuition free – (Westpoint and others) have the obligation to serve in the armed forces for a number of years. Also, medical school students sponsored by the armed forces – thus tuition free – also have the obligation to serve as physicians in the armed forces for a number of years. Finally, I think – but I am not sure – that there is a program for medical schools where a student signs up to work as physician in poorly served urban or rural areas for tuition free medical education.

  12. Minusio
    December 15, 2012 at 8:24 pm | #12

    @ Paul. As far as I know, continental and Anglo-Saxon tuition systems have always differed widely. This is what I found on the website of the University of Basel, Switzerland. Conversion rates are: CHF 100 are equal to EUR 83 or GBP 67 or USD 109.

    “The University of Basel charges tuition fees in accordance with its official Fees Regulations (Ordnung betreffend die Erhebung von Gebühren an der Univerität Basel).
    The current tuition fees are CHF 700.- per academic semester.

    In accordance with § 27 of the University’s official Student Administration Regulations (Studierenden-Ordnung), reduced fees of CHF 150.- apply to students who have been granted a leave of absence, medical students on their placement year, and doctoral students.

    Students are advised that there is an administrative charge of CHF 50.- for late semester registration.

    In applying for admission to the University of Basel, all applicants are charged an administrative fee of CHF 100.-. In case of late application (if approved) an additional fee of CHF 150.- is payable.

    Members of the general public registering for courses open to them are charged CHF 50.- for each weekly semester hour of tuition. Where registration amounts to fourteen hours or more, the overall charge is CHF 700.-.”

    From my times of study in the 1960s and 1970s, tuition fees have only a little more than doubled.

    Looking at those figures we are talking about totally different worlds and philosophies – and a different public sense of responsibility in educational affairs.

  13. December 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm | #13

    How exactly are they planning to enforce this serfdom clause? I think they want the student to work in Hungary (greater Hungary?) for 10 years in 20 years following graduation. So this will be a question only 15 years from now.

    So our student comes home, no border control, it’s the EU. You will need a “friendly” concerned citizen to report the student to the proper authorities (we had no shortage of these so far). Then what? What does the penal code say about this? To me it seems like a case of a garden variety loan default. So the lender can initiate a legal process to seize the assets of the borrower, but they probably have nothing because this was, in part, the reason they left Planet Hungary. Personal bankruptcy? Their credit history ruined? Will not be able to get a loan in Hungary? Muhahaha.

    Now what? Prison term? Now that would be an interesting one. For a loan default.

    Don’t let them go abroad? Dang! No borders.

    Man, this is not fair. We had this great idea and we ended up the stupidest, barbaric government in Europe (again).

  14. Minusio
    December 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm | #14

    @ Mutt. “… and we ended up the stupidest, barbaric government in Europe…”

    This all relative. First, it depends on how you define the size of Europe. Second, even in the EU there are some barbaric practices in certain fields of state activity (treatment of asylum seekers in Greece and Italy, for example).

    But the duck-dive in Hungarian governance under Orbán across the board will always be a remarkable feat.

  15. Some1
    December 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm | #15

    Magyar Nemzet published the name of HOOK members, who are enrolled in university for over five years. It is unclear where and how did they get access to the private info. Here is the cover page fro, DEC 15, 2012.
    http://instagram.com/p/TQlOMDMjzu/

  16. LwiiH
    December 16, 2012 at 2:15 am | #16

    gdfxx :
    In the US there are a few cases of “serfdom”. Those graduating from military academies – that are tuition free – (Westpoint and others) have the obligation to serve in the armed forces for a number of years. Also, medical school students sponsored by the armed forces – thus tuition free – also have the obligation to serve as physicians in the armed forces for a number of years. Finally, I think – but I am not sure – that there is a program for medical schools where a student signs up to work as physician in poorly served urban or rural areas for tuition free medical education.

    I believe it is still the case that in Canada you can join the military (conditions apply), attend Uni, and then you are obliged to remain in the military afterwards. From memory I seem to recall that medical doctors in certain programs in Ontario were obliged to work in remote areas for a year ( or two). All of these programs were in addition to loans and grants and burseries etc, meaning choice!

    I maybe wrong but doesn’t this seems to be part of a trend? OV and crew looks to what other countries are doing, twist it into something draconian and then present it as; everyone else is doing it?

  17. Pibroch
    December 16, 2012 at 5:48 am | #17

    Eva – I am wondering if you know whether the European Court of Justice has ever ruled on the conflict between the fundamental freedom of movement and the duty to fulfill contractual obligations. I know of several countries where the state or a company funds a student’s education in return for X years of work, and as far as I know, this is entirely legal.
    I personally know a Romanian-born Hungarian doctor who did not qualify for state-funded education in Hungary, so she worked out an arrangement whereby she worked for the Hungarian state medical system for three years in return for her education.
    It seems to me like the freedom of movement should not compromise contracts that require the contractor to remain in a certain place for a certain amount of time. As a Hungarian taxpayer, I object to the principle of paying for a doctor’s education just so that they can leave the country once they have finished their studies. As a relatively poor nation, we should not be financing staff training for US hospitals.
    In other cases, i.e. historians and philosophers, I have no objections to them leaving. God knows we are not suffering from a lack of good philosophers (go to the local borozo on a Sunday morning to check out some of the finest.)

  18. LwiiH
    December 16, 2012 at 7:26 am | #18

    Pibroch :
    Eva – I am wondering if you know whether the European Court of Justice has ever ruled on the conflict between the fundamental freedom of movement and the duty to fulfill contractual obligations. I know of several countries where the state or a company funds a student’s education in return for X years of work, and as far as I know, this is entirely legal.
    I personally know a Romanian-born Hungarian doctor who did not qualify for state-funded education in Hungary, so she worked out an arrangement whereby she worked for the Hungarian state medical system for three years in return for her education.
    It seems to me like the freedom of movement should not compromise contracts that require the contractor to remain in a certain place for a certain amount of time. As a Hungarian taxpayer, I object to the principle of paying for a doctor’s education just so that they can leave the country once they have finished their studies. As a relatively poor nation, we should not be financing staff training for US hospitals.
    In other cases, i.e. historians and philosophers, I have no objections to them leaving. God knows we are not suffering from a lack of good philosophers (go to the local borozo on a Sunday morning to check out some of the finest.)

    But such contracts shouldn’t make you an indentured servant. As for training doctors for other countries… believe it or not, it’s my belief that Hungarians would prefer to stay in Hungary but working conditions here are so uncompetitive that the lure to leave is too big. In fact it becomes fiscally irresponsible to ignore the vast differences in conditions and it becomes professionally limiting to remain in environments that are chronically under funded. As for training for other countries, both Debrecen and Szeged make a pretty penny training many foreigners and believe it or not, I know a few that *actually* decided to stay here! One we know returned to Libya for a short time to offer assistance to opposition forces.

  19. December 16, 2012 at 8:06 am | #19

    “believe it or not, it’s my belief that Hungarians would prefer to stay in Hungary”

    I have rarely met a Hungarian who wanted to leave Hungary, and those who did only ever meant it to be for a few years. Hungarians seemed to be ‘tied’ to their country far more than other nations. Here in semi-rural Kent we have thousands of people from all over Europe, especially from those countries who joined the EU recently, so I have had plenty of opportunity to chat to them about coming here and what they want for their future. Almost without exceptions, the Poles, Czecks, Bulgarians, etc have chosen to move here, start families and stay here, but the Hungarians would nearly all like to go home.

    But of course many are now ‘trapped’ here, having got used to higher incomes and a different standard of living, it’s very difficult for them to go back. Some have been here long enough to start families and those children are now starting school, and many of those kids are growing up very English (it always amazes me that not all immigrants teach their children their mother tongue, but it is surprisingly common – it’s terribly sad that they will never be able to talk to their grandparents).

    And, more recently, I’ve started to hear Hungarians say that they’d like to go back, but, “with the state the country’s in” there’s no point at the moment.

  20. December 16, 2012 at 8:18 am | #20

    As for doctors, etc leaving the country where they were trained to work abroad, my conscience pricks horribly.

    Our health service simply wouldn’t function without doctors, nurses, etc imported from other countries. Our doctor is Dutch, the locum we saw when the kids were last ill was from Lithuania, our dentist is Greek (and the previous one was Turkish), the last time I went to the optician I was seen by two Asians (one first and one second generation immigrants), and when I was in hospital a few year ago, although the surgeon was British, all his juniors were foreign (Australia, Greece and Morocco, if memory serves), and every single nurse that looked after me was a first or second generation immigrant (one was from Zimbabwe, and if you think Hungary’s got problems, you should talk to someone who still has family in Zimbabwe).

    How can I justify this? I can’t. We should be training enough doctors and nurses to staff our own health service properly, and all these people coming over here to look after us should be at home helping people who need them far more than we do. But I guess this is the logical conclusion of the free market economy – people move to where they can get the most money.

    Much as with the great free trade debates of the 19th century – it sounds good, almost idealistic, but the end result is that the rich countries do well out of it and the poor countries lose even more.

  21. December 16, 2012 at 8:40 am | #21

    Entirely OT (my apologies) – my wife watches MTV on the computer and was in a complete panic yesterday when it stopped working (no soap operas while she is cooking – no MTV at Christmas and Szilvester!). Apparently the site was updated a day or so ago and when she opened it yesterday she couldn’t get any videos or live streams to work. She got a message saying that it needed Silverlight to be downloaded, so she followed the instructions and still nothing worked.

    So this morning I have been trying to get something to work where I can’t understand 99% of what it says on the screen! I eventually succeeded, but I’m not really sure how. If anyone else has been through all this in the last few days, or knows anything about the MTV site upgrade, I would welcome your thoughts.

    The first thing I discovered was that the MTV download had given us version 1 of Silverlight – the current version is 5!! So I updated Silverlight, but this made no difference (rebooting also made no difference). Then I tried to go back to the original situation by uninstalling Silverlight, expecting the MTV site to then give me the same message my wife had had. But, of course it didn’t!

    Then, whilst trying to get my wife to explain EXACTLY what she had done (and why!), the MTV site suddenly started to work again. Years ago, when I was in IT support, we used to say keep your hand on the computer at all time, then when it mysteriously starts to work you can claim it was something you did, but I am at a loss to explain any of this. The only thing I can see that’s changed is that videos and live streams are now running in Windows Media Player, whereas they used to use Flash, but what this has to do with Silverlight is beyond me (especially as Silverlight is just a poor man’s Flash Player anyway).

    Some images on the MTV site still aren’t displaying, so I suspect this indicates that their upgrade has been a bit botched. So maybe this is the explanation – it wasn’t anything we’d done, they’d screwed up at their end? I still don’t understand the ‘download Silverlight’ message though…

  22. December 16, 2012 at 9:08 am | #22
  23. Some1
    December 16, 2012 at 9:11 am | #23

    So, apparently Orban bypassed all his ministers and MPs and all the representatives of any student organization to sit down with a group of students who asked him to meet with them. How well fitting. WHy does he need his whole government at all, when he decides who is he listening to, and as we know it goes what he is saying. My favourite part about this that until now all his MPs were kept saying that there will be no tuition, and this is not tuition that will come out. Hoffman was very firm on that this is the right thing. I cannot wait for Wednesday when the NEW Orban idea will make it to the parliament for “debate”. I hope Hoffman will say something, because I really want to hear it. I also hope that hog will follow up with the same MPs who were adamant about how great the original idea was, and there were no tuition.
    If you missed the original report, it is here:
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121211_Jo_hir_a_diakoknak_nincs_tandij_es_nem_is
    For this who do not speak Hungarian
    Will be a tuition? Is there a tuition?
    tuition = tandij (sounds like “tondy”)
    yes = igen (sounds like “eegen”),
    no = nem.
    isn’t = nincs (sound like “ninch”)

    I guess after all, those fools should resign now, as Orban clearly says that the original idea was a tuition.

  24. Eco
    December 16, 2012 at 9:21 am | #24

    You need to wait for the laws (and even then the rules are subject to amendment at any time, I guess the corporate tax act was amended some seven times this year). The bills tend to change until the very last moment. It is simply premature to analiye ideas thrown in.

    Even with Fulbright, noone takes seriously the return clause (there is no way to follow people). But this being Hungary, you can always arrange a local Hungarian minimal salary formal “job” with a friend’s limited liability company, perhaps you even pay the social security etc. if that is what it takes.

    But the issue is rather that the government has absolutely no idea about the university education — how to increase quality, introduce efficiency, change the moral issues (like oral exams) etc. etc. They only deal with it as a budgetary issue, how to save or not save money in this sector.

    The most fundamental policy problem of the government is again on display — they being lawyers deal with things like the “constitutional triangle” (how to build Kossuth square so that the three branches of government are all represented on the square — so that supreme court judges looking out of their window sare constatntly reminded where they get their budget and how is the really powerful figure in the system), the consruction of the “Közszolgálati Egyetem” (for the securuity services, as Orbán is obsessed with the secret services, uses them in every position he can) etc. But what about environmental issues, health care, kinderagerten education, culture, industry, jobs, agriculture, infrastructure — nothing at all, complete nihil (only ways to extract or save some money). This is not governing.

  25. Some1
    December 16, 2012 at 9:34 am | #25

    According to HVG, the meeting on Saturday was between Orban and the members of Fidelitas or Young Fidesz members. I guess that Orban refused to meet with anyone else is a slap in the face for any student organization that were trying to meet with Orban. This step is also reinforces the concept that only those’ opinion matters who are faithful to Fidesz. I would love to know if any of the youngsters Orban meet with did participated in any of the student walks? I am sure Orban did not bent backward just because this particular group but because the overall pressure. Still it seems that members of Fidelitas already have a huge advantage over the regular citizens. (Does anyone has any flashback regarding KISZ that Orban was member of under Kadar?) So, i guess it is never too late for Orban to recycle the ideas from the cursed Kadar regime. (Although Orban actually admitted that his only problem wit that at regime was the “management” not the concept. So, there you have it.)

  26. December 16, 2012 at 9:45 am | #26

    The mysterious students who on short notice “invited” Orbán to meet with them turned out to be members of Fidelitas, the youth branch of Fidesz!!!!

  27. Minusio
    December 16, 2012 at 10:27 am | #27

    @ Paul OT/MTV. My girlfriend also couldn’t get MTV yesterday but told me only now when I asked her after reading your post. I’ll see if I can get it to work with VLC as I did before on a smart tv when it also said use silverlight (which didn’t make a difference).

  28. wolfi
    December 16, 2012 at 10:40 am | #28

    This whole thing is crazy (as usual in these Fidesz times …) and we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of it.

    Just two remarks/examples about how this is handled in the rest of the EU:

    Austria introduced a kind of tuition fee but that was reversed by the courts – now it’s back in force, but only at some universities and only for foreigners from outside the EU – EU students have to be treated the same way as Austrians.

    In Germany you could make a contract with the armed forces (don’t know if in these times it’s still possible, because the forces have been drastically reduced in number) where the military paid for your studying (including a nice stipend!) and you had to work for them as a doctor for a few years afterwards which gave you a good experience so these people had no problems getting a job later …

    Also generally employers can make contracts that employees have to stay with them after they’ve been paid for studying something – but again there are strict limits for how long this kind of service may last, depending on how much money was invested.

  29. Minusio
    December 16, 2012 at 10:51 am | #29

    @ Paul OT/MTV /ctd. We can get MTV live via the Internet perfectly well. But all PCs and laptops here have been set to open video and audio content with VLC. But I guess that yesterday they just didn’t have their act together. It also says that they are not broadcasting everything via the Internet (as my girlfriend translated for me).

  30. December 16, 2012 at 11:31 am | #30

    Minusio :
    @ Paul OT/MTV /ctd. We can get MTV live via the Internet perfectly well. But all PCs and laptops here have been set to open video and audio content with VLC. But I guess that yesterday they just didn’t have their act together. It also says that they are not broadcasting everything via the Internet (as my girlfriend translated for me).

    I think the stream doesn’t start thats why the black screen.

    By the way I just watched the MTV news at noon. The half of the 3 minute block was news from the US. Sandy Hook and John Kerry’s nomination. The Hungarian block was the computer trouble at the borders and the police looking for drunk drivers. Then the weather forecast closed the interesting stream of news. Bandwidth wasted.

  31. December 16, 2012 at 11:41 am | #31

    Pibroch :
    As a Hungarian taxpayer, I object to the principle of paying for a doctor’s education just so that they can leave the country once they have finished their studies. As a relatively poor nation, we should not be financing staff training for US hospitals.

    Right. How about their parents? They contributed to the society for 40 years just to see this government forcing their children to work for peanuts. If you don’t want to educate their children pay back the same money to their parents.

    “Please God. Let the neighbors cow die too …” – Hungary’s motto

  32. December 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm | #32

    Off topic but there is a very interesting article about “national Christianity” in Hungary in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung: http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/feuilleton/kunst_architektur/eine-pilgerreise-auf-den-spuren-des-magyarischen-christentums-1.17879874#

    those of you who know Hungarian it was translated in today’s Galamus.

  33. Spectator
    December 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm | #33

    Minusio :
    @ Mutt. “… and we ended up the stupidest, barbaric government in Europe…”
    This all relative. First, it depends on how you define the size of Europe. Second, even in
    the EU there are some barbaric practices in certain fields of state activity (treatment of asylum seekers in Greece and Italy, for example).

    Actually, I don’t think, that the definition is negotiable – it’s geography, you know…
    By the other hand, what Mutt may have meant is the government’s relation to culture – as is – and that IS barbarian, – by contemporary standards definitely is.

    Regarding the subject:
    Already in the late sixties – early seventies, there was a working model of company sponsored scholarship, which actually worked, as I recall.
    Normally bigger companies went after talented high-school graduates and offered to pay their tuition fees if they sign up at least for five years – it worked for both parties then.
    (One of my nephew’s got his degree this way, that’s why I so well informed)

    If you look at itfrom a practical point of view, it’s one of the best solutions, but, than again, you have to have some kind of commercially applicable interest – nothing like “media” or such, but nevertheless, it served well for quite a lot of people.

    Well, those were the commmunist times, so there must have been something wrong with this solution, probably that’s why it has been thrown away… Isn’t it?

  34. Minusio
    December 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm | #34

    @ Éva OT: This very insightful and alerting NZZ article was widely discussed in Dr. Michael Piesskalla’s Hungarian Voice ["Antisemitismus: Offener Brief an Ádám Fischer"; 6. Dezember 2012], not approvingly, as you can imagine. Several posters also doubted the identity of Kai Kimmich. One poster who calls himself Peter Herche wrote”: “Als Ethnologin, die sich Kimmich oder gar Kai Kimmich nennt, ungarisch spricht und sich hinter “sakralen Kulissen” verschanzt hat, kommt nur die “wissenschaftliche” Hochstaplerin Magdolna Marsovszky in Frage.”

    Who is Magdolna Marsovszky?

    Interestingly, Hungarian Voice tolerates Marco Schicker’s (Pester Lloyd) very critical remarks about Piesskalla’s way of harping on petty points, insisting on form over content, relativising clearly horrendous facts and showing a mentality of keeping the lid on everything. His post (one of 70!) is under M.S. Worth reading!

  35. Minusio
    December 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm | #35

    @ Spectator. You seem to know more than everybody else about the definition of Europe. For de Gaulle it extended all the way to the Ural mountains, and most historians have dealt with the western part of Russia within a European context. If Mutt meant the EU when he wrote ‘Europe”, I tend to agree with him, but commonly Belarus is also included in Europe and that is more barbaric than Hungary, you know. I would also include the Ukraine.

    Nobody doubts that there are working models for scholarships with strings attached elsewhere. The educational policy of the Orbán regime is going off on another tangent. But you may not have noticed yet.

  36. December 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm | #36

    Ok, the barbaric was a bit debatable adjective I admit … Let’s hold the comparison with Belarus until after the 2014 elections.

    On the other hand the “stupid” doesn’t seem to be far fetched. There are traces intelligence present in the Hungarian government, no doubt. It’s hard to detect, but it’s there, like radiation during solar flares. For instance, as many already pointed out here, the idea of financially contributing to your higher education in a country with limited financial means is not a bad idea. It’s the way these guys are trying to do it, that’s what’s mind blowing. The Orban government is like a restaurant where you have perfect, fresh and appetizing ingredients but the chefs instead of spending time to cook you meals just put everything into a giant blender and serve up the swill to the pigs.

    Whatever they touch turns into unorthodox gold (crap).

  37. Spectator
    December 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm | #37

    @Minusio
    I rather stick to usually accepted definitions and have no intention to guess, what Mutt might have- or have not in mind. As I gather he is quite capable to define a geographic area, no doubts from my side.
    However, regarding to the ‘barbarian’ attitude of the present Hungarian government I have no problem with Mutt’s definition. Furthermore, in this respect I find rather irrelevant, wether or not Belarus has two point eight percent more – or less – barbarism, I would prefer, if this question wouldn’t have any reason to turn up, but – unfortunately – it has.

    Actually I belong to those picky bastards, who wouldn’ even consider acceptable something bad, just because there is something what even worse, you know.
    Orbanistan IS barbarian – in my definition is!

  38. December 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm | #38

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Off topic but there is a very interesting article about “national Christianity” in Hungary in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung: http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/feuilleton/kunst_architektur/eine-pilgerreise-auf-den-spuren-des-magyarischen-christentums-1.17879874#
    those of you who know Hungarian it was translated in today’s Galamus.

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or Ramadan … as long as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our savior.”

    - Martin Short on the SNL yesterday

  39. Minusio
    December 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm | #39

    @ Mutt. Absolutely hilarious!

  40. wolfi
    December 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm | #40

    Maybe not totally OT:

    This I found today as a comment on the Newtown school massacre:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/mike-huckabee-school-shooting_n_2303792.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HP%2Fmedia+%28Media+on+The+Huffington+Post%29

    This creature (sorry, Christian …) wanted to become POTUS!

    “We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised … when all hell breaks loose.”

  41. December 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm | #41

    wolfi :
    This creature (sorry, Christian …) wanted to become POTUS!

    You either agree with my views or there will be a tsunami/murder/infectious disease next months … What a moron. There is always lower.

  42. Julie
    December 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm | #42

    There’s a secondary gag in the cartoon Eva posted. The “Crtl+c” and “Ctrl+v” on their shirts are the keyboard shortcuts for “copy” and “paste,” respectively.

  43. LwiiH
    December 17, 2012 at 4:58 am | #43

    Paul :
    Entirely OT (my apologies) – my wife watches MTV on the computer and was in a complete panic yesterday when it stopped working (no soap operas while she is cooking – no MTV at Christmas and Szilvester!). Apparently the site was updated a day or so ago and when she opened it yesterday she couldn’t get any videos or live streams to work. She got a message saying that it needed Silverlight to be downloaded, so she followed the instructions and still nothing worked.

    Extremely OT with some relevance to the MS deals signed by OV and Gyurcsany.

    SilverLight never really caught on and it’s now a dead technology. As is Flash I might add. Both as it has been usurped by HTML5. Why anyone would “upgrade” to it is a mystery to me. In fact, the governments buying into the whole MS world including the education deal that Gyurcsany signed was a complete mystery to me. Public institutions supported by public funding should favor software infrastructure that best benefits that same public. This is what the Brazilian government did. Brazil now has what is considered the best health care infrastructure in the world. It was all built on open source software. This software that has gone on to benefit Brazil in many other aspects as to how government and businesses work. In fact, Brazilian public policy coupled with the enormity of the heath care admin problem resulted in a number of companies changing from closed to open source policies. If they wanted in on the “game”, what they offered needed to be OSS. The ripple effect of the enormity of the Brazilian health care problem couple with public policy has greatly benefitted everyone outside of Brazil as well. I could cite the B2B infrastructure that Holland built as another example. Yet here in Hungary, to interact with OPEC/NAV electronically we were forced to MS technologies. A couple of years ago when Romania and Hungary were getting visits from Balmer and crew I spoke to a group of Hungarian students. My message to them was; the desktop is an engineering tool that escaped from the lab and now it’s being pushed back into the lab. As it becomes less relevant so to does the technology needed to support it. To this end, the last numbers I saw showed MS share plummeting to some where just north of 60% and there is no indication that this deal with Nokia is going to reverse this tide. So MS will remained tied to a platform that is become less and less relevant. Even Apple will not be able to hold off the shear numbers of Vendors working with the OSS equivalent to iOS, Android/Delvik. And even Android is a fork of an even larger OSS project, OpenJDK. There isn’t anything you do today that doesn’t touch a part of that project. And the creation of OpenJDK was in no small way, influenced by Brazilian public policy.

  44. Jano
    December 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm | #44

    Wolfi: This creature (sorry, Christian …) wanted to become POTUS!

    Oh dear, out of some weird mazochism I started to read comments all around on this animal’s comment… and I thought reading Hungarian comments are the bottom of everything… We have a fair share of primitive idiots, but at least this level of religious lunacy is marginal. Don’t get me wrong, we have our KDNP, but FoxNews community was a whole new level for me…

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