Hungary’s populist government has banned gender studies degrees citing low enrollment numbers that waste taxpayer money and because it is “an ideology not a science.”
Left-wing critics say it’s academically problematic, politically unheard of in a democratic society, and argue gender studies degrees do lead to jobs.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been called the Donald Trump of Europe, signed the decree, which went into effect Saturday, removing gender studies from a list of approved master’s programs, though students already enrolled will be grandfathered in.
“The Hungarian government is of the clear view that people are born either men or women,” Orban’s chief of staff said in August. “They lead their lives the way they think best, but beyond this, the Hungarian state does not wish to spend public funds on education in this area.”
Central European University (CEU), founded by Hungarian-American liberal billionaire George Soros and one of two universities in the country that teaches gender studies, blasted the decree as “a significant loss to the Hungarian scholarly community and for democratically-minded public policymakers.”
Eva Fodor, pro-rector for social sciences and humanities at CEU, told Fox News the decree is “atrocious” and unheard of in democratic societies.
“Whether or not you believe in the academic merit in gender studies as a field, it is a legitimate academic field, so banning it is a historic violation of academic freedom,” said Fodor, who has taught gender studies for the past 15 years.
The ban abolishes CEU’s Hungarian accredited two-year master’s program in gender studies, which has about 20 students each year, including Americans. As of Saturday, students are no longer able to enroll in the program.
Fodor said it is problematic because the program is in partnership with other countries, supported by European Union funding.
Seen as a hostile bastion of liberalism by Orban’s administration, CEU students have participated in the “Vagina Monologues” and the “Hate Speech Monologues,” describing the program as being a part of “social change.”
CEU said it will continue teaching and research in the field through its U.S.-accredited MA and Ph.D. programs.