Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes Stand in Relation to Students’ Reclassification Procedure

Budapest Business School (BGE) violated the principle of the rule of law and caused an impropriety related to the right to a fair procedure of the students concerned when upon modifying the internal regulations of the institution pertaining to reclassification based on the new educational requirements, it disregarded the transitional provisions of the National Higher Education Act (“Nftv.”) that provide guarantee, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded. Dr. Ákos Kozma asked the rector of BGE to ensure that the internal documents of the institution fully regulate the reclassification of students in accordance with the legal regulations in force.

Objecting to the unlawfulness of the reclassification practice of Budapest Business School (BGE), the president of the National Conference of Students’ Councils (HÖOK) submitted a petition to the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. In his view, BGE had applied the criteria for reclassification from education with a state-funded scholarship to self-funded education without taking into consideration the ascending system.

The basic idea of the ascending system is that the new criteria may not be applied to those who established their student status prior to the system’s introduction; the application of the new criteria would only be allowed if the student explicitly opted for the stricter requirements.

In his report on Case No. AJB-933/2020, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights concluded that upon modifying the internal regulations of the institution pertaining to reclassification based on the new educational requirements, BGE disregarded the transitional provisions of the National Higher Education Act (“Nftv.”) that provide guarantee, and by this omission, it violated the principle of the rule of law and caused an impropriety related to the right to a fair procedure of the students concerned. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights noted that the elaboration of institutional regulations is further complicated by the fact that the provisions of Section 116(8) of the Nftv. have been modified as many as five times since 1 September 2015; moreover, the educational requirements forming the basis of reclassification have been moved into Section 116(8) of the Nftv. as of 1 September 2016. In other words, the legislator must have sensed the uncertainty in the application of the law, and as a result, it aggregated the educational requirements and the rules for their application. The Ombudsman also pointed out that there is a contradiction between the statement made by the HÖOK and the information provided by the rector, especially in respect of the number of students affected by reclassification, which, however, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights is not in a position to resolve, due to his lack of investigative or other formal means of evidence available in police or court proceedings.

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights called on the rector of BGE to ensure that the internal documents of the institution fully regulate the reclassification of students in accordance with the legal regulations in force and in respect of the guarantees provided for them by the rule of law, thus especially of the principle of the ascending system, so that these requirements would be unequivocal and predictable for the students.

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-933/2020.