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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Red tape chokes Hungarian Oriental Studies

Hungarians are a funny sort. Whereas most normal languages express things with particles, agglutination is a national sport. We have our surnames in front. When the post-communist world was trying to pick up the pieces amidst chaos, Hungary was the wonderchild of Eastern Europe. When the neo-European countries were booming, we suddenly discovered that the economy is about to collapse. Then we have an unusual knack for screwing up things that work and pumping money into things that don't and never will, to wit, soccer.

So it was high time for the glorious red tape to choke some of the good things still left in the country. This year the all-powerful Hungarian Accreditation Committee decided that studies concerning about half of the planet is totally useless beyond a BA. Kind of ironic for a nation of less than ten million. Thus, beginning from next year the following disciplines will not offer MA courses at ELTE University: Indian Studies, Chinese Studies, Mongolian Studies, Korean Studies, and Japanese Studies (Tibetan was successfully wiped out earlier).

Well, fine and dandy, a small country can't afford such 'luxuries'. Never you mind that Tibetan studies should be on the list of national treasures since it was sort of invented by a Hungarian. To hell with India and China which happen to be on the way to becoming superpowers of this century. Japan is going down anyway. Mongolian? Oh well, 50 years of spearheading research should not bother us.

Surprise, surprise, however: Turkic studies, Arabic studies, Hebrew studies, Assirian studies, Iranian studies, and Altaic studies (in Szeged) passed. I'm not saying that they don't deserve it, they are just as valuable as all the above if not more. Surely, it's only a fortunate coincidence.

I think that members of the accreditation committe deserve our thanks and appreciation for taking this burden off the country's shoulders. I'm sure that the process was long and exhausting, hence I would be glad to pay them a long vacation to discover some of the more obscure parts of Xinjiang Uighur. One way tickets will suffice.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous H.I. said...

Shocking news. Is this irreversible? Is
there a plan for concerted efforts to
marshal international protests?

The link to the Hungarian Accreditation Committee seems to be broken.

7:37 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

Thanks for reporting that link. Fixed.

I don't know. Maybe they can try again next year. The situation is _in theory_ administrative (not enough people to teach, not enough classes to offer, not allowed over a certain number of hours, etc.)

Sorry for the outspoken entry everyone. I'm furious.

8:12 pm  
Anonymous Abhinanda said...

In brief, the situation is as follows:
1. the univ. is reluctant to employ more academic staff or to upgrade the staff members, even if they have a PhD (lack of money)
2. the AC has laid down certain criteria for establishing an MA course: only one who has a PhD AND who is at least a senior lecturer (assistant professor) can be in charge of subjects offered as part of the MA course, AND one person can only be in charge of a limited number of subjects
3. it is practically impossible for small departments not to exceed the subject / teacher limit
4. the AC rejects their application.

11:22 pm  
Blogger sdv said...

Fundraising?

2:34 am  
Anonymous abhinanda said...

Have done fundraising, as a result the Indian government established the Tagore Research Fellowship at the Dept. of Indo-European Studies (teaching Indology). BUT, as I've said, one has to have a PhD AND has to be at least an adjunktus (H) ( = senior lecturer GB, assistant professor US, Juniorprofessor (?) D) to be in charge of a subject. And that is more expensive to fund. Ah yes, AND he or she must have at least 5 years teaching experience. Indian companies are not interested in funding Indology. But if you have any concrete suggestions…

3:29 pm  
Blogger PDSz said...

maybe SD meant fundraising for their vacation from absurdistan to uighuristan?

7:37 pm  
Blogger sdv said...

I wrote a polite email (to: titkarsag@mab.hu) to express my shock at their decision, but I guess they will not care. I do note they have an "International Advisory Board" whose members are listed, so they need to be made aware of and be embarrassed about the enormity of their misjudgment. They seem to have enough money for pointless [[sightseeing excursions]] conferences in Wellington, New Zealand.

1:50 am  
Blogger Romokon said...

van élet az eltén túl. remélem...

10:14 pm  

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