Signatures are rapidly being collected in university circles in Hungary for a petition to save the proposed 1996 international exhibition, intended to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the arrival of the Magyars.
The exhibition was scheduled to take place on a site in Buda, close to the Technical University.
Fundraising for the rehabilitation of the site, a run-down industrial plot, was to be raised by the sale of public bonds. When the exhibition closed, the site would be converted to a new campus.
Higher education facilities in Budapest are very cramped, and the site seemed a godsend to academics. It was expected that Budapest's premier higher education establishment, the Eotvocs Lorand University, in cramped quarters on the Pest side of the river, would be a beneficiary.
But plans for the exhibition ran into financial difficulties, and, after prolonged political hassles, the government decided to cancel. The announcement was accompanied by assurances that this would not affect plans for a new campus.
Funding of higher education is in disarray. Plans to introduce tuition fees had to be ditched at the last moment, since no safety-net had been devised for students in conditions of financial hardship.
The government pledge to complete the Buda campus even without the exhibition carried no commitment to a date. Saving the exhibition may yet save the university campus.