The senate and leadership of Budapest’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) announced their resignation, saying the foundation set to take over the university on Tuesday under a government decree had deprived them of “all essential powers”.
The outgoing officials said “any appearance of the leadership’s independence can only be maintained by making unacceptable compromises”. They vowed not to take up any position at the helm of the university “until its autonomy is restored”.
László Upor and Eszter Novák, both outgoing deputy rectors of the university, said the university’s leadership was being forced to operate “without any relevant information or real options” at their disposal during the transition period. Among other issues, they complained of not receiving any official notification of changes in the regulations of the SZFE’s operating body, and said their own proposals on key areas of supervision and management had been rejected out of hand, Novak said. Autonomy is key in an effective cooperation, and the recently re-written statutes of the SZFE exclude that, they said. Gábor Németh, the rector’s advisor, said the new documents curb the university’s independence in leadership and organisational issues, in finance, economy, as well as in staffing. Academic and educational freedom are also in danger, he said.
The Innovation and Technology Ministry announced in June that the SZFE’s operations will be taken over by a foundation from Sept. 1, in line with a broader scheme under way to place certain universities under the authority of semi-private foundations. Attila Vidnyánszky, the director of the National Theatre, has been appointed to head the institution’s supervisory board, sparking protests from many teachers and students.