With the dismantling of the welfare state, nation states have gradually retreated from providing social protection and educational services across Europe. While in Western Europe market actors have been increasingly involved, in Hungary, following the 2010 victory of the right-wing populist coalition, a characteristically different mode of governing has been unfolding. State officials and key decision makers have publicly and repeatedly confirmed the alliance of the church and the state, and ‘historical churches’ have been strongly incentivized to take a greater part in public education provision with generous state subsidies. As a consequence, independent church school networks have taken shape alongside state schools, and the churches have been developing their own education policies, administration and governing rationale. My project focuses on the changing institutional landscape of public education and the novel role played by the churches as education policy-making actors both at the national and regional level. I am especially interested in how these immense changes affect social segregation processes, and reshape local power relations and access to public services in disadvantaged regions.