ECREA is deeply concerned about mounting pressures on autonomy of universities in Hungary. On 12 October, 2018, the Hungarian government removed Gender Studies from the list of accredited Master Programs in Hungary. As announced in its official outlet, the National Gazette (Magyar Kozlony) it remains now as an empty line #15 in the registry. This move followed an earlier announcement of a proposed government decree to stop offering accredited Gender Studies programmes, citing budgetary limitations and lack of labour market demand for graduates as main justifications for the proposed closure.
Two universities in Hungary providing Gender Studies programs are affected directly: the state-funded Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) and the Central European University (CEU). At ELTE, the Hungarian public university's Master Program will have to close completely, after the cohort of current students graduate. All of Central European University's programs in gender studies (1 year, 2 year MA) have United States accreditation and will operate normally. CEU will however lose Hungarian accreditation on the 2-year MAs which will influence the European wide GEMMA and Matilda Erasmus Mundus Gender Studies Master Programs.
At the same time, a new study program "Economics of Family Policy and Public Policies for Human Development" planned for Corvinus University was registered without accreditation. This university is expected to become nationalized by the Hungarian government. Previously, such a course on “family studies” was mentioned by then-minister Zoltán Balog as a “properly scientific degree” to counter Gender Studies. Other prominent members of the ruling Fidesz party, including the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, have also voiced their opposition to the notion of social construction of gender.
ECREA recognizes that the mischaracterizing and questioning of the academic legitimacy of Gender Studies is not only a populist political gesture but also an anti-educational, anti-scientific, anti-democratic, anti-constitutional and anti-equality move. Through anti-genderism attacks on intellectual freedom, Gender Studies scholars are dismissed as ideologists rather than scientists. We are concerned about our colleagues based in Hungary and their contribution to European and international networks, educational and research projects as well as publishing. This not only affects the established discipline of Gender Studies at the intersections of humanities and social sciences, but also seeks to undermine the important contributions feminist theory and methodology have made to the fields of communication and media research in Europe and beyond. Gender, (and its intersectional relations with race, ethnicity, migration, sexuality, among others) is a key analytic lens for the ECREA Sections of Gender & Communication; Diaspora, Migration and the Media and International and Intercultural Communication, and is prominently on the agendas of other Sections, Temporary Working Groups and Networks.
The removal of accreditation for Gender Studies programs is regretfully merely one of the Hungarian governments’ direct attacks on academic freedom, which include mounting pressure against CEU and a 25% tax on any "external funding for activities regarding migrants", which includes educational programmes for migrants.
ECREA stands in solidarity with colleagues based in Hungary, who are experiencing infringements on their academic autonomy by the Hungarian government. ECREA also calls upon Minister of Human Capacities Dr Miklós Kásler to revise the decision and restore accreditation to the two Gender Studies programmes in question.