EERA concerns on Hungarian plans to abolish Gender Studies

Letter to Hungarian Minister of Human Capacities

Berlin, 21.09.2018

Dear Dr. Kásler Miklós,

EERA, the European Educational Research Association, a European umbrella association of national learned societies in the field of education, is extremely concerned about the Hungarian government’s proposed law to abolish accredited MA programs in gender studies in Hungary. According to The Hungarian Journal, “the part of the amendment which concerns gender studies provides no explanation whatsoever. Two universities are concerned: Hungary’s biggest state-funded university ELTE, and the Central European University. If the amendment becomes official, it will mean that nobody can attend gender studies courses in Hungary and get a degree in the subject.”

As a professional education association for Europe, we are deeply concerned at these proposed actions and protest this proposal. Our Hungarian colleagues are well established as experts in gender studies internationally, have contributed to the scientific discipline and have an excellent reputation in the field. We feel that it would be detrimental to Hungary not to allow them to continue to develop the discipline.

Gender Studies is considered critical to many of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the world. The insights it produces are essential to the advancement of science and the improvement of society. It develops important perspectives on human wellbeing, equality, identity, difference, and diversity. Its findings are recognized and used within many other scientific disciplines, from medicine, law, political sciences, economics, sociology to cultural, literary studies and history. The interdisciplinary approach and the plurality of theoretical perspectives and methodologies it draws upon and develops fuel unique studies and insights which would not be available without the work of gender studies scholars. There is a global need for graduates with the skills and expertise to tackle global and local challenges in this way. The discipline is needed for societies to progress and for the rights and dignity of citizens to be secured. This field is both intellectually and politically crucial, across Europe and within Hungary.

This State intervention undermines the autonomy and academic freedom of universities: this right has been supported by UNESCO since 1997 and is a principle that democratic nations should adhere to.  We ask that the Minister of Human Capacities refuse this amendment regarding Gender Studies and ask that the European Union, of which Hungary is a member nation, to condemn this action as a violation of its principles. We also call upon our own academic institutions to condemn this action.

Yours sincerely,

Prof Dr Joe O’Hara

President of EERA,
European Educational Research Association

EERA Constitution

Please note, as EERA is organised as a German eingetragener Verein, the German version of the constitution is legally binding.