British Academy urged gov’t to drop legislation before passed

History

Professor Ash Amin, Foreign Secretary and Vice President of the British Academy, wrote a letter to Hungarian Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog to express the academy’s “deep concern at the imminent disruption to the outstanding work of the Central European University,” before the so-called “lex CEU” legislation was passed on Tuesday. The letter was made public today.

As part of the letter dated 31 March, Professor Amin of the British Academy, the United Kingdomʼs national academy for the humanities and the social sciences, urged that “significant concerted discussion and open consultation” should have taken place as soon as possible with the CEU and the Hungarian academic community before the proposed legislative changes went forward.

“The flourishing of the Central European University in Hungary has been an exceptional success story for Hungarian and international academia and one which we would very much regret if it came to an end. The legislative proposals that have been put forward jeopardize the ability of the Central European University to continue to flourish within Hungary and with knock-on effects we fear for the strong collaboration researchers from outside Hungary would wish to enjoy with our Hungarian counterparts,” the letter argued.

The full letter and publication is available at the British Academy’s news site.

Thousands of protesters hit the streets once again Tuesday in support of CEU, demonstrating against legislation passed earlier in the day by the Hungarian Parliament modifying the law on higher education, which threatens to make CEUʼs continued operation impossible, according to Hungarian online news portal index.hu. 

The Central European University has condemned Parliament’s passage of amendments to the law on higher education, claiming the legislation threatens academic freedom and vowing to contest its legality. The U.S. Embassy expressed disappointment with respect to the passing of the law, which has also been strongly condemned by academics around the world.

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