World’s leading economists ask Hungary to withdraw anti-CEU legislation

More than 150 prominent European and American economists, including Presidents of European Economic Associations and more than a dozen Nobel Prize Laureates, have signed an open letter asking Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government to withdraw legislation that would force Central European University to shut down in Budapest.

Superstars of economics ask Hungary “respectfully but in the strongest possible terms" to withdraw bill

The crème de la crème of the world’s most renowned economists are among those who signed the petition, including 14 Nobel Prize Laureates and several recipients of the John Bates Clark Medal.

The letter written to Réka Szemerkényi, Ambassador of Hungary to United States, Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacities of Hungary and László Palkovics, Minister of State for Education, Ministry of Human Capacities, is as follows:

“Dear Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi, Dear Minister Zoltán Balog, Dear State Minister of Education László Palkovics,

“We have learned with concern about proposed legislation that would make it impossible or impracticable for the Central European University to continue its operations in Budapest.

“We would like to express our admiration for Central European University, which is a leading university in the region, and is well integrated in the broader system of Hungarian and European higher education.

“We have learned a tremendous amount from, and cooperated productively with, researchers from CEU. We have been fortunate to meet many students who received postgraduate degrees at CEU, after obtaining a world-class basic education in Hungarian -- and other Central and Eastern European -- public universities. CEU’s integration in and cooperation with other academic institutions in the region is fundamental to the success of Hungary.

“It would be a sad outcome for the training of students from the region, for academic research in Hungary, and for our own cooperation with Hungarian academics, if the proposed legislation came into force. We therefore ask, respectfully but in the strongest possible terms, that your government withdraw this legislation.


Below are only a few names of those who signed the open letter. Most of them are the stars of the academic world, others’ works are in every basic textbook on economics or comprise the main material in the field of advanced economics. We’re talking about academics at the world’s top higher education establishments, including Standford, Yale, Berkeley, MIT and Cambridge.

Click here for the full and impressive list of names.

  • Daron Acemoglu, John Bates Clark Medal recipient,
  • Philippe Aghion, President of the European Economic Association,
  • George A. Akerlof, Nobel Laureate,
  • Susan Athey, John Bates Clark Medal recipient, Stanford University;
  • Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate,
  • Peter Diamond, Nobel Laureate,
  • Esther Duflo, John Bates Clark Medal recipient,
  • Matthew Gentzkow, John Bates Clark Medal recipient,
  • Lars Hansen, Nobel Laureate,
  • Oliver Hart, Nobel Laureate,
  • Tim Besley, President of the International Economic Association,
  • Bengt Holmström, Nobel Laureate,
  • Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate,
  • Roger Myerson, Nobel Laureate,
  • A. Michael Spence, Nobel Laureate,
  • Edward C. Prescott, Nobel Laureate,
  • Alvin E. Roth, Nobel Laureate, President of the American Economic Association,
  • Emmanuel Saez, John Bates Clark Medal recipient,
  • Thomas J. Sargent, Nobel Laureate,
  • Robert J. Shiller, Nobel Laureate,
  • Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate.

CEU cheats, cannot stand above the law, Orbán says

Nobody stands above the law in Hungary - not even if they are a billionaire, and this institution must also abide by the law

, Orbán said in a radio interviewon Friday, adding that

"fraud is fraud, no matter who commits it

[...] the 'Soros-university’, which awards foreign degrees, has itself admitted that it does not run courses abroad, and this is against Hungarian regulations".CEU President and Rector, Michael Ignatieff said CEU utterly rejects the Prime Minister of Hungary's false allegations that CEU is "cheating."

"Contrary to the Prime Minister's statement, there is no current Hungarian law that requires universities to have operations in their home countries in order to award degrees in Hungary.

"CEU is accredited to award Hungarian and U.S. degrees. We have been lawful partners in Hungarian higher education for 25 years and any statement to the contrary is false."

Hungary’s Education Authority confirms 17 CEU programs conform to local law

Meanwhile, there was some confusion about a statement released by Hungary’s Educational Authority that CEU New York meets conditions for operations in Hungary under the current National Higher Education Act.

CEU clarified in a press release that this refers to its submission of 17 programs for examination by the Educational Authority.

The audit of all CEU programs currently underway, which is not yet complete, also examines the conditions set out by Article 76 (1) of Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education, and CEU expects the Authority to conclude that the University conforms to all current legislation.

The notification states:

“CEU NY is a higher education institution recognized according to the internal law of the United States of America and holds a right to issue degrees, therefore it complies with," the Hungarian Center for Equivalency and Information of the Educational Authority said in a letter to the Higher Education Registration Department of the Educational Authority which was received formally by CEU. Article 76 (1) of the Act provides the conditions under which a foreign institution can deliver programs in Hungary.

The letter also confirms that “Central European University holds a state accreditation issued by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the State of New York, therefore, it is a higher education institution recognized according to the laws of the United States of America.

“The programs as well as the degrees issued in these programs provided by the institution on the territory of Hungary are equivalent to state-recognized higher education programs (diplomas)."


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