Dr József Bódis
Secretary of State for Education
Ministry of National Resources
21st August 2018
Dear Dr Bodis
I am writing on behalf of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies. The Association is the largest professional association of academics and scholars who are engaged in research and teaching on East Central European and Slavonic studies. Our members are drawn from a wide range of disciplines the arts, humanities and social sciences from higher educational institutions in the UK and Europe.
The proposed law of the Hungarian Government to abolish accredited MA programmes in gender studies has been met incredulity by members of the Association, regardless of their own personal research interests. Gender Studies has so long been included in postgraduate courses and consideration of gender processes integral to courses in the humanities and social sciences in leading Universities across that world, that I do not propose to mount a defense of the discipline; gender, self-evidently, belongs in the curriculum of any institution of higher learning in the 21st century. Rather than trying to abolish gender studies courses at the Central European University and Eötvös Loránd University, the Hungarian Ministry of Education should be congratulating both universities for forging a path for other institutions of higher learning in Hungary to follow. Hungary appears to have chosen to be a pariah and object of ridicule in global teaching and research. The prosed law will damage even further its reputation, which has already been compromised by its assault on the CEU.
Our thoughts are with the students, scholars and teachers who will find their legitimate pursuit of knowledge in the sphere of gender studies handicapped by this action. Our message to our colleagues in the CEU and ELTE is that BASEES will give them a warm welcome at its conferences, where they will have unconstrained opportunities to engage in critical discourse on all aspects of the theory and practice of gender relations and politics.
BASEES calls upon the Secretary State of Education to refuse this absurd amendment and, more generally, to call a halt on all state interventions in the legitimate pursuit of knowledge by scholars in Hungary.
Professor Judith Pallot
President of BASEES
University of Oxford.
Dr. Lajos Aáry-Tamás, Commissioner for Educational Rights
Mr Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky. Hungarian Ambassador