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Controversy over Central European University

March 30th, 2017

As the Education Agency claims it has detected irregularities in the functioning of 28 foreign owned universities in Hungary and the Minister of Human Resources has tabled a bill to tighten their regulation, a left-wing commentator believes the real target is Central European University, founded and mostly funded by Hungarian-born investment tycoon George Soros.

The Education Agency, a department of the Ministry of Human Resources released a communique listing a long series of irregularities it detected in the operation of 28 universities owned by foreign-based institutions which issue degrees in Hungary. The Central European University is not mentioned by name in the press release. Origo.hu reports however that irregularities have been found in its operations as well. Michael Ignatieff, the Rector of CEU denied the charges.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Human Resources tabled an amendment to the Higher Education Act whereby universities based in non-EU member countries can only operate in Hungary on the basis of bilateral intergovernmental agreements. Universities not complying with the new rules by February next year, cannot admit new students from September 2018, although those already enrolled may finish their studies.

In a first comment on the issue, András Jámbor fulminates against the bill in Kettős Mérce. The left-wing commentator contends that CEU is Hungary’s best university and is assessed in international rankings far higher than the rest. He praises the University founded by George Soros as an institution offering Hungarian (postgraduate) students internationally competitive knowledge and degrees, and well-paid jobs to Hungarian academics. Jámbor is convinced that the new legislation aims to close down CEU and suspects what he calls ‘power considerations’ behind the move.

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