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Legislation has been introduced in Hungary’s National Assembly (Országgyűlés) that specifically targets Central European University, one of the most prestigious universities in Central and Eastern Europe.
CEU is a private university “dedicated to socially and morally responsible intellectual inquiry.” It is accredited in both Hungary and the United States, and recognized through a specific Hungarian law in its name, and funded independently by a founding endowment, philanthropic gifts, foundation grants, partnerships, tuition income and research grants. CEU is highly ranked, and annually serves approx. 1500 students from over 100 countries.
Concerns about a “potential foreign influence” have led the populist Orbán government to target CEU. The proposed amendments to the Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education, which have been introduced into parliament on March 28, 2017, specifically aim to:
- prohibit Central European University from operating under its present name as-is, unless its changes the name of its Hungarian entity;
- impose work permit vetting by the Hungarian government on non-EU faculty;
- prevent CEU from issuing US degrees to its students through its Hungarian entity even though Hungary and the US are both OECD members;
- require CEU to open a campus in the state of New York.
The official response from CEU describes the legislation as purposefully “discriminatory and unacceptable” and argues that the amendments will make the university’s continued operation as a “free and independent international graduate university” impossible.
We, scholars, students and supporters of free and unbiased scientific research and education call on the Hungarian National Assembly to drop the proposed legislation and to enter negotiations with the leadership of CEU that will ultimately allow this prestigious university to remain a proud contributor to scientific discourse in Hungary.