Hungary’s populist government is stopping universities from offering courses in gender studies, saying there is no need for graduates in the labor market and they take taxpayer money away from other programs.
The move, announced this week, comes after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government won a comfortable majority in April after an election focused primarily on immigration. Since then his Fidesz Party has been implementing key parts of its election manifesto.
In a statement, Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said that there is “no demonstrable demand for graduates of ‘social gender studies’ in the Hungarian labor market.
“There is no economic rationale for studies such as these, and so we have reason to presume that it was not created in response to labor market needs, and equally not to furnish students with skills that can be readily and directly converted on the labor market,” he said. It is also questionable to what extent studies with admittedly such low student numbers are economical and sustainable.”
Hungary’s HVG said that it would only affect two of the country’s universities, but also that such courses had been in the government’s crosshairs for a while.
Critics of the nationalist government say that Orban has been engaging in authoritarian tactics and this move is likely only to fuel such claims.
But Kovacs, the government spokesman, said that such programs “take valuable resources away from other programs, and deteriorate the economic stability of universities.”
“State universities operated from public funds must take this into consideration as the purpose of these higher education institutions is to meet genuine social and labour market needs,” he said.
Earlier this year, his government implemented a “Stop Soros” package aimed at Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.
The package includes a law that makes it illegal for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to organize illegal immigration into the country. Such activities can range from financial support to the distribution and preparation of information and pamphlets.
Soros’ Open Society Foundation has moved its Budapest offices to Berlin shortly after the election amid what it described as a “repressive political and legal environment.”