Hungarian breach

April 25, 1997

I HAVE not read the Romanian 1994 Education Act, but from my experience of the University of Cluj/Kolozsv r the proposed creation of a Hungarian language faculty of law within this university (THES, April 18) is not the first break with mandatory instruction in Romanian.

Currently some courses (for example, 85 in the faculty of history and philosophy, according to university figures for 1993-94) are offered in Hungarian. In history, about 25 students in each year study in Hungarian, and since 1989 there has been some recruitment of Hungarian teaching staff.

This Hungarian language provision is still inadequate, but it deserves to be encouraged rather than ignored.

The practical difficulties also should not be underestimated. The contraction of Hungarian university education after the compelled merger of the Hungarian Bolyai university with the Romanian Babes university in 1959 means that recruitment of suitably qualified Hungarian-speaking staff can be difficult.

Even some advocates of the re-creation of separate Hungarian and Romanian universities admit that this plan would be impossible without drafting in visiting lecturers from Hungary.

Suspicions of the integrity of Romanian intentions are understandable: the previous communist regime manipulated the admissions policy so that the number of Hungarian students fell below the required quotas for Hungarian language tuition, and the underlying attitudes are not easily changed.

Less understandable, and potentially as harmful, is the denial that university tuition and examination in the Hungarian language exists.

Christine Peters Queen's College Oxford

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