University students` protest in Budapest are still going on

Since the beginning of September 2020 students of the University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) and their sympathizers protested in central Budapest against changes to the way the university is governed. The protesters insist that the institution had lost its autonomy. The students and faculty believe that the ruling Orban government wants to gain control over the university.

Rectors and department leaders at the 155-year-old state-run establishment resigned when the law, passed earlier this year, switched the ownership of the university from the state to a private foundation.

Students at SZFE have drawn up a list of demands before they will allow the university to function, which include academic autonomy, the resignation of the current board, and that the state continues to fund the university.

The protest, at SZFE, has drawn shows of support from theater groups, students, actors and university faculties in Hungary and around Europe.

In the last hours of the resignation period of the resigning leadership, students learned from the press only yesterday night that a board of trustees not recognized by them had appointed two new vice-rectors to head the institution without a tender. After the farewell of their management, they held an overnight student forum, during which they voted to block the other building of the Film and Media Institute on Szentkirályi Street (the main building on Vas Street was occupied just a month ago). A guard has been set up, only citizens of the University can enter the gate.

Today the teachers of the SZFE will also turn their protest to a higher level, as they went on strike indefinitely from 8 am.

Budapest, 1st October 2020.

Matyas Benyik

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