Soros-backed university in Hungary confirms move to Vienna
05 December, 2018, 19:27 | Author: Myra Gill
Returning students will finish their studies in Budapest, while new enrolments on CEU's US-accredited degree programs will begin their studies in Vienna in September 2019.
Michael Ignatieff, the CEU president, described the move as a "dark day for freedom in Hungary" and said that it was "unprecedented that a U.S. institution has been driven out of a country that is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally".
"The departure of these US-accredited programmes from Hungary will be a loss for the CEU community, for the United States, and for Hungary", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
However it is the institution's US-accredited masters programmes which have done most to attract students from over 100 countries to the CEU, which has always been regarded by the nationalist Orban as a hostile bastion of liberalism.
"Despite our consternation at being forced to leave Budapest, we are excited to offer our students the opportunity to study in another great central European city", he said.
The Budapest school's ousting marks another step toward autocracy in Hungary and the region.
For almost three decades CEU has been a gateway to the West for thousands of students from ex-communist eastern Europe, offering US -accredited degree programmes in an academic climate that celebrates free thought. In a statement, the The Central European University said it took the decision after a law enacted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government forbade it from accepting new students in January 2019.
Ignatieff said while CEU had "a pretty good (legal) case" at those courts, he would not speculate about their outcomes. "It is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary", CEU's statement added. It is Central Europes most successful applicant for competitive European Union research grant funding, with more than 19 million awarded for the 2018-26 period.
In October the university set a deadline of December 1 for Orban's government to come to an agreement to allow it to continue to operate its US-accredited courses but no solution was reached. Orban accuses Soros of encouraging mass immigration into Europe, a charge the philanthropist denies.
A university funded by George Soros has warned of the "beginning of repression in Hungary" after being "forced out" of the country by the government.
The university said it would retain "accreditation as a Hungarian university and ... continue teaching and research activity in Budapest as long as possible".
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