Why is Central European University under attack by the Hungarian government?

April 14th, 2017

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Demonstrators at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest protesting legislation that would force the closure of Central European University, April 9, 2017. (Photo Credit: The Nation – MTI via AP/Jano Marja)

If you haven’t heard already, on Tuesday, April 4 2017, the Hungarian National Assembly fast-tracked and passed an amendment to a higher education bill that threatens the closing of the Central European University (CEU), a leading university in Europe. According to a report in The New York Times: “The new law requires, among other things, that foreign-accredited universities provide higher education services in their own countries — meaning the United States in the case of Central European University.” CEU has until January 1, 2018 to comply with these new requirements.

CEU, located in Budapest, is accredited in the United States and Hungary and offers degrees in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy, business management, environmental sciences, and mathematics. CEU attracts students from over 100 countries from around the globe and is revered for its programs in social sciences and humanities.  According to The Times Higher Education, CEU was founded in 1991 as an English-language university by “a group of visionary intellectuals – most of them prominent members of the anti-totalitarian democratic opposition.”

Members of the European Commission of EU’s executive body are investigating this new law imposed by the Hungarian government and questioning is legality. There have also been massive student protests in Hungary who see the government’s heavy handedness as a clampdown on free expression and in retaliation against Mr. George Soros, a financier who sits on CEU’s board. Mr. Soros, according to some observers is seen as an influential global threat by Hungary’s conservative nationalist government.  Even the U.S. has expressed concern and criticized the Hungarian government’s higher education bill and its impact on CEU.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is unmoved by the criticism and the protests. Mr. Orban’s party is convinced that George Soros is behind the shaping of CEU’s institutional philosophy of inclusion which encourages migration while the Hungarian government opposes it vehemently. Mr. Orban wants to stop migration while he sees Mr. Soros as an advocate of migration who will use money and his political capital to weaken and destabilize governments, such as Hungary, who oppose his philosophy. Mr. Orban has coined the term “Illiberal democracy” by turning liberals into the enemy and arguing that majority rule is more important than minority rights.

With such deeply rooted dislike for liberalism, George Soros, and migration which translates into international students, the future of the Central European University in Hungary looks rather bleak.

Sources:

https://www.oneyoungworld.com/blog/trouble-hungary-central-european-university

https://www.google.com/?trackid=sp-006#q=Central+European+University

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/central-european-university#ranking-dataset/1089

https://www.thenation.com/article/central-european-university-under/

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