CEU condemns Hungary’s new higher ed law, plans legal action

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Central European University (CEU) condemns the Hungarian Parliament’s passage of amendments to the Hungarian national law on higher education today. The new law puts at risk the academic freedom not only of CEU but of other Hungarian research and academic institutions, the university, founded by Hungarian-born financier George Soros, said in a statement on Tuesday.
CEU condemns Hungary’s new higher ed law, plans legal action
The deadlines imposed in the final form of the legislation are even more punitive than earlier versions and the requirement that foreign institutions like CEU receive authorization from US federal authorities appears not to understand the US Constitution. US law clearly gives authority for higher education to the states," CEU said in a statement.

It added that the university has operated since 2004 on just such an agreement between the Governor of the State of New York and the then Prime Minister of Hungary.

CEU also regards the new legislation as “a violation of the clear constitutional provisions in Hungary’s basic law that protect the freedom of scientific research".

We will contest the constitutionality of this legislation. In the meantime, we call on the government to enter into dialogue to see whether an agreement can be reached to resolve the issue. Such an international binding agreement must allow CEU to continue its operations in Budapest and safeguard its academic freedom

, said CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff.

In reacting to the new law, Rector Ignatieff said:

“This legislation has been rammed through Parliament in a single week following a tide of defamatory attacks on the university and its degrees. These attacks have not succeeded.

“CEU will continue its operation and maintain the continuity of its programmes in all circumstances," stressed Ignatieff at a press conference today.

“We want to remain in Budapest we have done nothing wrong, Budapest is our home," he added.

“We will challenge the constitutionality of this decision," he tweeted.




Chairman of CEU’s Board of Directors Leon Botstein said during the press conference they remain determined to serve the students and staff, adding that whatever occurs CEU is are going to continue its work, not allowing the politics of the Hungarian government to interfere with or close CEU.

Immense support for CEU

“We are deeply grateful for the support we have received from Hungarian faculty, students and institutions of learning," Ignatieff said.

A map of the network of Tweets with the hashtag #IstandwithCEU shows public opinion feels the accusations are not just against CEU, but against academic freedom and higher education in Hungary as a whole, according to Milan Janosov, a doctoral student at CEU's Center for Network Science (CNS), and CNS Director Balazs Vedres.

Click to enlarge
"We collected all the tweets containing the #IstandwithCEU hashtag, using the official Twitter API, since the #IstandwithCEU hashtag's first appearance," Janosov said in a blog post.

"Academic freedom is the most significant node connected to #IstandwithCEU, and the topic is co-mentioned with other controversial issues, such as Brexit and the current events concerning higher education in Turkey and Russia."

Based on the first 10,000 tweets with the tag, the researchers mapped a network of the most popular additional hashtags, also used in these tweets. On the visualization the size of each node (hashtag) is proportional to the number of tweets it appeared in, and the width of the edges represents the co-occurance frequency. Color encodes time, with blue tags being used the earliest, and grey tags entered the latest.

CEU also calls the government’s attention to the wave of support for CEU and for academic freedom received from noted academics in Hungary, Nobel laureates, university presidents, the U.S. Department of State, academic organizations, student groups, and ordinary citizens in Hungary and around the world

, CEU said.

It pledged to “continue to maintain the integrity and continuity of its academic programs throughout this period and assures all current and prospective students that CEU will remain in continuous operation whatever the circumstances."

A petition to the “save Central European University" was signed by more than 41,000 people from around the world.

Expressions of support for CEU and condemnation of the legislation include:
17 Nobel Prize winners and more than 500 European and American academics
Over 1,000 cognitive scientists including 2 Nobel Laureates
Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber
The United States Department of State
Lászlo Lovász, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Hungarian National Conference of Student Unions
Eötvös Loránd University
University of Szeged
University of Pécs, Faculty of Business and Economics
Andrássy University Budapest
Academia Europaea
18 Hungarian Colleges of Excellence
Duke University
The British Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities
The Regius Professors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities
Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson, recently elected to CEU’s Board of Trustees
The European Society of Cambridge University
The Canadian University Teachers Association
European University Association
Indian Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
John Shattuck, professor of practice in diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, former President of CEU (2009-2016)

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