Michael Ignatieff, president and rector of the Central European University (CEU), insisted in a statement released on Monday that the Hungarian government has forced CEU out of Hungary, claiming that “Hungarian government claims to the contrary are false and misleading.”
As of January 1, 2019, as a consequence of Hungaryʼs amended law on higher education - which came to be popularly known as “lex CEU” due to its perceived special targeting of the institution founded by Hungarian-born investor and government bête noire George Soros - the university can no longer accept new students to its U.S.-accredited and world-ranked masterʼs and doctoral programs in Budapest, says the university.
“In plain language, CEU is being expelled from the city that it has called home for more than 25 years,” the statement adds. While retaining Hungarian accreditation, it cannot operate as a U.S.-accredited institution, resulting in moving all of its U.S. degree operations to Vienna from September 2019.
“Forcing a university out of the country is an attack on higher education and a blow to academic freedom,” Ignatieff says.
Even so, a solution remains possible, the statement adds, noting that if the government wants CEU to remain in Budapest, then Prime Minister Viktor Orbán should state that CEUʼs license to operate will not be withdrawn. Government statements to the effect that CEU can remain in Budapest are “simply untrue” until this happens, the press statement concludes.