Orban Drives Out Central European University
The Central European University (CEU) announced on Tuesday evening that Hungary’s government has submitted a draft bill for amendments to higher education which will make it impossible for the institution to function in Budapest. CEU headquarters have been based in Budapest for the last 25 years, reported AP and BTA.
Under the amendments, submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, foreign universities must have a campus in both Hungary and their own country. Higher education institutions will have to comply with the new requirements by February 15, 2018.
Besides, the amendments revoke the right of the university to appoint professors from countries outside the EU without a working visa and require that CEU change its name. At the moment, CEU operates only in the Hungarian capital; it has around 1,400 students, while professors and staff come from over 131 countries.
“The university will gain zero educational benefits from opening a campus in the state of New York and it will suffer unnecessary losses of financial and human resources,” read the announcement of the institution which claims that the legislation proposed is “targeted directly against CEU and, therefore, it is discriminatory and unacceptable”. CEU calls for the amendments to be rejected.
In his statement, Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of CEU, states that the shutting down of the higher-education institution founded by George Soros “will harm Hungary’s academic life and will have a negative effect on the relations of Hungary’s government” with its neighbours, EU members and the USA
The government insists that its purpose is only to uphold the law and make sure that everyone upholds it.
“The legal amendments are for everybody, so CEU has to respect these,” explained the spokesperson of the Hungarian government Zoltán Kovács, cited by Reuters.
Ignatieff stated that he has offered the government negotiations on finding a satisfactory resolution which will allow CEU to continue operating in Budapest.
“We will energetically defend our achievements against anyone who is trying to vilify our work in the eyes of the Hungarian people,” said the rector.
CEU was founded in 1991, while Open Society has operated in the country since the beginning of the transition. Scholarships for several politicians from the ruling party Fidesz have been financed via Soros’ organisation.
Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban has also received a scholarship from Soros but is lately very critical of the philanthropist of Hungarian origin whom he accuses of wanting to influence Hungary’s policy and of supporting mass migration towards Europe.
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