Orbán regime threatens to shut down Central European University

Michael Ignatieff, Central European University’s rector and a citizen of Canada, wrote a public letter to professors, students and graduates of CEU to inform them that the Orbán government intends to draft legislation that directly threatens the future of this Budapest-based, English-language institution. Mr. Ignatieff emphasized:

“The claim that we do not have program accreditation is entirely false. The claim that we have failed to meet our obligations regarding data to official public registry is also false. Our master’s and doctoral programs are accredited with the Hungarian authorities as well as by the State of New York and the University’s accreditation is overseen by the Middle States Commission, which certifies American institutions like Princeton and UPenn. More importantly than these false accusations, legislation has been proposed to the Hungarian Parliament that, after careful legal examination, would make it impossible for CEU to continue its operations as an institution of higher education in Hungary authorized to grant degrees accredited in both Hungary and the United States. As we see it, this is legislation targeted at one institution and one institution only. It is discriminatory. It strikes at the heart of what we have been doing at CEU for over two decades. We are in full conformity with Hungarian law and have been for more than two decades.”

Mr. Ignatieff then added:  “CEU is a proud Hungarian institution, a university whose freedom is in danger.”

Central European University – Budapest.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Human Capacities, told reporters that several universities are operating “illegally” in Hungary, adding that the government has detected “irregularities” in the operations of several foreign universities. “No university can stand above Hungarian laws,” declared the Ministry, adding that the government would be tightening its regulations and will make it more difficult for institutions registered outside the European Union to issue diplomas and degrees to its students in Hungary. It is abundantly clear that the Orbán government is thinking specifically of Central European University, tied to the despised and much maligned George Soros and his Open Society Foundation.

The Origo website, now firmly in the hands of the Orbán regime, quipped on Tuesday: “It remains to be seen whether after the amendment, the Soros University would be required to shut its doors.” The pro-regime Magyar Idők daily also wrote a piece in what is a coordinated attack against CEU, claiming that the university does not have proper accreditation.

A year before the next national elections, Mr. Orbán has found his next target and he will be merciless in his attacks against the most prominent English-language university in Central Europe.


  1. Avatar Judith Kopacsi says:

    So, what’s next on the list?

  2. What’s next on the list ? The burning of books ?

    • Is this a joke comment? In the EU people are arrested every day for speaking out against the Islamization of Europe, there is mob violence being waged against dissidents every week for “spreading hate” (hate = truths certain minority groups don’t like) in the US, German & French citizens are tried & fined all the time for merely trying to preserve their own civilizations & populations, as their own governments try to eliminate them through a well-financed, oligarch facilitated mass-scale invasion by 3rd World peoples. The idea of any American or Western European making a point like this in the current political climate is absurd & hypocritical to the extreme. The Western World is under the yoke of a totalitarian Cultural Marxist power structure. Tend to your own garden before you start tending Hungary’s. There’s a lot more wrong in Western Europe & America than in Hungary. A lot more.

      • Avatar Tenured Radical says:

        Yeah, that doesn’t sound creepily racist and wild-eyed conspiracy-theorist at all … oh hey, wait: Márton? Is that you? How’s that list coming? It’s been a few years.

  3. Avatar Harcz László says:

    As goeth one people, so goeth another people. Each nation consists of people with the same human nature. Putin and Orban are only scapegoats! (fall guys)

  4. If you want to study in New York or Princeton, go there. If you want to study in Budapest, do it. Why mix the two up? Is there an inferiority complex that a degree merely granted by a Hungarian university is not enough?

    • Well it’s not. And believe it or not, a regional ‘leg’ of an international university makes it easy for people from that region to get the same level of education. And get an internationally recognised degree. A Hungarian degree ‘not being enough’ in other parts of the world is not an ‘inferiority complex’ but the naked truth.

      • Instead of improving a certain institution’s prestige, you pull up the crutch of accreditation abroad, that’s already admitting defeat. Defeatist attitudes don’t prestige make.

    • Avatar Lance Potter says:

      “Mix”… what nonsense! You go to a university to study the world. Two plus two equals four the world over.

  5. I was wondering the merits or other achievements of the mentioned university, just in line line with the case quoted by Brad above. Probably the “freedom”. The European Univ in Saint-Petersburg was not even close to be “the best”.

  6. Avatar Sandor Kerekes says:

    I hope CEU, and George Soros, will be similarly merciless at the courts, in the international public fora and shall behave as private enterprise, such as it is, should behave in the face of unbridled stupidity and evil.

  7. Avatar Sennabulya Sylivester says:

    As a former student from far away Uganda I have always been proud of my studentship in CEU. Although I had traversed 17 countries already, for the first time in my life, I was exposed to the Hungarian people and their beautiful country. I am saddened by this development and appeal to him if he can, he should reverse this trend.

  8. Vladimir, in the social sciences and humanities the EU-SPB is, along with the Higher School of Economics, the only Russian institution that has a significant international reputation (obviously math and the hard sciences are different), or internationalized faculty.

    The CEU is very similar in this regard, as both were set up to focus on disciplines heavily affected my Marxist dogma (politics, economics, etc.). In fact, the latest QS rankings put the CEU at #42 in the world for politics; one can quibble with the validity and methodology of these rankings, but regardless they signal the international reputation of the university.

    Observer: these accreditations predate Hungary’s joining the EU, and gave the university the ability to have its degrees recognized elsewhere — many countries consider these things important, and having a degree recognized in multiple countries is common. And for a university attracting students from around the world, being accredited in the largest academic environment in the world (the US) is seen by many as quite important.

    The most significant question your pushback raises to me is this: for what reason does one support targeting universities? The free exchange of ideas and the idea of the university as an important component of intellectual, economic, and social development is fundamental to the European values the Orban government says it is so zealously protecting.

  9. Sad for Hungary. Move it to Vienna?

  10. CEU is an incredible institution that gave me a world-class education in the M.A. for Gender Studies program. Really sad to see this happening; it is symbolic if our own struggles here in the U.S. to keep democracy alive in the face of tyranny and fascism. Education and open ideas must prevail!

  11. Oops correction to my above comment. *of our own.

    Silly typos!

  12. There are many people in many countries all across the CEE region who have studied in CEU, be it for a longer or shorter period. While there will probably still be people in, e.g., Estonia who would come to any other Hungarian university, I am quite certain Hungarian will present a good enough language barrier to prevent most of them from coming. Also, one must admit that the other universities in Hungary are not internationally well known, so prospective students probably won’t even think about it.

    Concerning EU-SPB: well, it has certainly been unlikely to introduce its students to lists of “betrayers of the nation” (nacpredateli), as can be seen in reports from the other Russian universities these days. This, of course, is one of its quality guarantees as well as one of the reasons for closure.

  13. Avatar A. Kemal Bersay says:

    CEU is a great university. They should move to Istanbul – though there are some problems there as well, there’s always room for a high quality institution in such a large market.

  14. Democracy is dead in Hungary, now we have to bury it only! #RIPdeomocracy

  15. Hungary should just leave the EU and acknowledge they don’t deserve the EU funds anymore as they comply less and less to the EU values. I respect Orban’s and population’s choice to let democracy aside and criticise these values. But please, leave the EU! The EU won’t regret it. Not sure Hungary will not.

  16. Hi folks,
    Im an Indian with 2 finance related degrees from America. Im relocating to Budapest in the summer as a Permanent Resident of Hungary. What are the best ways to find a job in the financial services industry there? How big a barrier is language, although the language of finance globally is English.
    Thanks in advance for your inputs!

  17. Avatar Monica Gheorghiu says:

    I have studied at CEU and I am very proud for my own development which sprouted from this. The period of my life when I studied in Budapest at CEU was the best of my life in what I learnt I could be, think and achive. The whole place is beautiful, elegant, extremly professional and at international standards. I met with diversity (colleagues from Germany, Russia, Cameron, Bulgaria and so on) and learning skills for a lifetime. it alk had a great impact on my life and who I am now. Nevertheless, wuthout the scholarship i received I could have never made it. My savings in such a crypto communist country as Romania after the so called revolution (where ex political figures of the regime came to power in a most appaling way) were very little when I applied and I, very young. Those who are eager to close Universities are eager to burn books and kill intellect. For me, they are of the same kind. CEU is a world class institution and I am very proud to be its graduate. I know how hard I worked for my degree and the level of exigence I had to face. I want this institution to stay in place and continue to do a wonderful job in education for thousands of young people eager to study every year. United we stand

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