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CEU committed to stay in Budapest

The Central European University is committed to staying in Hungary, and urges the Hungarian government to withdraw its proposed legislation about foreign universities that would make operating here impossible for CEU, rector Michael Ignatieff said at a press conference today.

“We will never close this university, we have no other home than Budapest. Budapest has been good to us and we have been good to Budapest,” Ignatieff emphasized. “This university is not going to close in any circumstances… we are so committed to teaching and research,” he added. “The legislation must be withdrawn.” 

Ignatieff also noted that although the legislation seems to be targeted against the CEU, it is also an “assault” on academic freedom not only in Hungary, but on an international level. “I want to make it clear for the national and international press that the legislation is targeted and discriminatory to the CEU and is an assault to academic freedom in Hungary in general,” Ignatieff said.

The rector stressed that CEU “is and always has been in full compliance with Hungarian law… we are scrupulous about our obedience and any other comment is defamatory”. This is most probably a reference to a report in government-friendly online news source today that claimed CEU operates unlawfully, also openly accusing the institution of “clear fraud” by offering educational courses that have not been registered. 

CEU officials are reportedly scheduled to hold talks with László Palkovics, state secretary responsible for higher education, soon. Ignatieff stressed that the legislation must be swept off the table in order to efficiently negotiate on the matter, which the university is committed to doing. “We are open to the discussion with the government. We are willing to work with the government any time,” Ignatieff said.

CEU has been part of Hungarian academic life for 25 years, and is proud of the progress made here. Ignatieff pinpointed that CEU has Hungarian partner universities, therefore any attack on CEU is an attack to the whole Hungarian academic scene.