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Hungarian Students Hold New Protest Against Tuition Fees

Hungarian university students continued protests against government plans to introduce tuition fees and cut state-subsidized places at colleges.

About 1,000 students packed the main hall of Technical University in Budapest, demanding Prime Minister Viktor Orban explain his reversal after previously opposing tuition fees, according to webcasts by Index news website today.

Orban, who as opposition leader organized a successful referendum in 2008 to cancel tuition fees, now plans to cut funding to public universities. He is under pressure to cut spending and keep the budget deficit within 3 percent of economic output to avert losing European Union funding.

The Cabinet has confirmed media reports that it wants to cut state-subsidized places at universities to 10,480 next year from 27,250. Students want the government to scrap its plan and are concerned that the new rules are discriminatory against poorer students, said David Kis, a representative of a student union, according to Index.

The economy is in its second recession in four years and the government has relied on extraordinary company taxes and spending cuts to plug budget holes as investments dropped.

The government needs to end discriminatory, opaque and unpredictable policies, which are contributing record-low investments and a lack of growth, one of the biggest company lobby groups, the Joint Venture Association, said yesterday.

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