World

George Soros-backed university ‘forced out’ of Hungary

George Soros-backed university ‘forced out’ of Hungary

Central European University - run by former Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff - has confirmed it will move its USA -accredited degree programs from the Hungarian capital of Budapest to Vienna as of September 2019 after Hungary's government refused to sign an agreement allowing it to stay.

The institution's president and rector Michael Ignatieff called it an "unprecedented" act against an American university by a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and against a European university by a member of the European Union.

Founded by the Hungarian-born Soros in 1991 and chartered in the U.S. state of NY, the CEU says it was the target of a law passed April 2017 that placed tough requirements on foreign universities. "We're being driven out of Hungary by a government that is consolidating single-party rule", he said. Mr. Ignatieff said all new students will attend classes in Vienna, but he hopes to maintain a Budapest campus.

The move is permanent, Ignatieff noted, and CEU, founded by investor George Soros, will not be a "university in exile".

The political machinations that have recently forced an American university to cease operations in Hungary should serve as a warning about the growing global threat of authoritarian regimes, current school president and former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday. "We can not operate legally in Hungary as a free USA accredited institution".

The European Court of Justice has not held a hearing, despite the Lex CEU law violating European laws, Ignatieff added, on a "dark day for academic freedom". But the Central European University and the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban failed to agree.




CEU's legal status has been in limbo for more than a year since changes to a higher education law that meant a foreign-registered university could no longer operate in Hungary unless it also provided courses in its home country.

According to the Post, Orban has accused Soros of encouraging immigration into Europe, which Soros has denied, according to Reuters. Current students, though, can finish their studies at the Budapest campus.

But he said the Orban government would not accept CEU's moves and ultimately refused to sign an agreement necessary to let it continue as a USA -accredited institution in Budapest.

But a government spokesperson has called the American site "a Potemkin campus" that fails to satisfy the new rules and has refused to sign an agreement with the United States of America authorities that would let CEU continue to operate.

Hungary's government dismissed the university's move on Monday as a "Soros-style bluff".