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.

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