As of this past September, students who choose to attend a university in Hungary’s state-funded system must sign a contract requiring them to work two years in the country for every year of their studies. If they break this contract by seeking work outside the country, they must pay back their tuition, which, while affordable by American standards, is quite expensive for most citizens. Since the passage of the law, students have been demonstrating against it; one group has been holding a sit-in at a Budapest university since Monday.
What’s the Big Idea?
Government minister Zoltan Balog says it’s all about fighting brain drain: “How can it be that we are training several hundreds of doctors every year — which costs the taxpayers a whole lot of money — who after graduation immediately go to Norway, to Sweden, to England?” Yet the contracts may be in conflict with European Union law, which allows freedom of movement of labor. Politics may also affect the contracts’ status: Next year’s parliamentary election could bring in a more student-friendly majority party.