People forming a chain of protest around CEU building in Budapest | Zoltán Balogh / MTI

'Lex CEU' passed amidst international protest

April 4, 2017

The Hungarian governing parties have passed an amendment to the law on higher education, a legislation that is widely considered to target one institution in particular, the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. There has been protests against the change on the streets of Budapest as well as in international education and academic circles.

The amendment would force CEU to open a campus in New York State (where it is also accredited) and change its name; it would also eliminate a waiver that allows academic staff from non-EU nations to work at the university without a work permit.

CEU was founded by George Soros in 1991 to promote the values of open society and self-reflective critical thinking. It is considered as one of the most prestigious universities in Central Europe for social sciences and humanities.

Last December, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán declared that 2017 would be about the marginalisation of Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros and the marginalisation of the forces he represents. Thus, this rapid legislation is widely considered as one of the moves against the liberal democratic principles and values of open society.

The Hungarian government's legislation drew widepsread criticism from all over the world, including 14 Nobel Laureates, the American chargé d'affaires in Budapest, the Governor of the State of New York and even the President of Germany, among others. Hungarian government officials claim all these people were misled and do not have the sufficient information. The American and German chargés d'affaires have been called to appear in the Hungarian foreign ministry this Wednesday.


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