Despite the outrage of students, professors, prominent political leaders and the entire Hungarian community of Romania in general, the merge of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureș and the Petru Maior University was finalised in September, and consequently the already unstable and never quite fully materialised multicultural aspect of the university is in more peril than ever before, as the percentage of Hungarian students and professors dropped significantly. To add insult to injury, in early 2019 the senate of the university decided to establish an English faculty, after resisting for years the idea of creating a Hungarian department, as required by the 2011 Law on Education, on the grounds that it would violate the autonomy of the university.
Regarding the issue, Hunor Kelemen, the president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR), declared that “the creation of a Hungarian department is a legitimate expectation of students and professors”, adding that “it is difficult to find an argument against it – especially now that UMFST/MOGYTTE can accommodate an English faculty.”
On top of this already untenable situation, in December, the Romanian leadership of the University decided to introduce standardized testing at the university, which sparked renewed protests among Hungarian students and professors. They argue that this decision is highly discriminatory since it basically states that students on all lines of study will be tested according to the materials and the bibliography used by Romanian professors, thus excluding all textbooks that are not available in Romanian. Moreover, changing the regulations regarding exams – or any regulations for that matter – in the middle of the academic year is highly irregular. It puts the students of the Hungarian and the English lines of study at a serious disadvantage, given that for an entire semester they have been studying from one set of books and are now expected to be tested according to a different set of materials. As a sign of protest many Hungarian professors went on to test their students at the recent exam session according to the textbooks and materials that they have been using throughout the year, but were then not allowed to introduce these grades into the electronic register.
Although the president of DAHR personally discussed the matter with the rector of the university, the situation is currently at a standstill. Hungarian students continue to protest, while the Romanian leadership of the university, the representatives of the Hungarian teaching staff, together with Romanian and Hungarian political leaders are in the process of negotiating a solution, with no results so far. Kelemen underlined that the fact that the university leadership does not allow professors to teach and evaluate students as they see fit, is a sign of mistrust. The president of the Alliance categorically declared, “this mistrust has to be addressed”.