October 17, 2003

Plans to privatise Hungary's universities and higher education colleges have raised fears of job losses and a narrowing of the range of subjects on offer.

The country's Trade Union of Higher Education Employees argues that the proposals would put academic jobs at risk and may herald the introduction of student tuition fees.

The Ministry of Education wants to give universities the right to transform themselves into non-profit-making organisations with a mix of state and private funding. This would mean transferring lecturers, researchers and professional employees, such as librarians, from the public to the private sector.

Bela Mang, deputy state secretary at the Ministry of Education, dismissed reports that 80 per cent of degree subjects would cease to exist, but said many would "merge".

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