Hungary rushed through a bill requiring foreign-accredited universities to provide higher education services in their own countries and ordered them to be approved through a “contract” between the Hungarian government and the country where they are accredited, which in CEU's case is the US.
The move has sparked major protests have been staged with observers saying the law was part of a clampdown on free expression with the Hungarian authorities viewing the global capitalist billionaire Mr Soros as the main target.
In response the Hungarian government dispatched its education minister László Palkovics to Brussels to defend the government’s action.
The Soros-funded Central European University is under threat of closure due to a new law in Hungary
He said: “The Hungarian government doesn’t want to close any university — neither Hungarian universities nor any of the universities belonging to Mr Soros.”
Mr Palkovics claimed the Hungarian government had reviewed the 28 foreign institutions in the country and “found different kinds of anomalies” in 27 of them.
He added: “We don’t want to have universities that are just issuing diplomas based on any kind of accreditation without any control.”
Protestors mass outside Hungary's parliament earlier this week
A statement from his ministry yesterday read: “We trust that Brussels will not assist the deceptive Soros campaign and will be capable of forming an objective and unbiased opinion that is free of political interests.”
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has previously called the university a “fraud” and said “in Hungary, one cannot be above the law – even if you are billionaire”.
The university also came under fire from Hungary’s top education official, Zoltan Balog, who reportedly said: “We are committed to use all legal means at our disposal to stop pseudo-civil society spy groups such as the ones funded by George Soros.”
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Migrants protest outside Budapest's Keleti Railway Station after it was closed off by police to prevent people travelling on to western Europe
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A migrant taunts Hungarian riot police as they fire tear gas and water cannon on the Serbian side of the border, near Roszke
Billionaire capitalist George Sorros
The law has come under fire from a variety of critics, including Hungary’s own member of the European Commission responsible for eduction Tibor Navracsics, who also belongs to the ruling conservative Fidesz party.
Mr Navracsics said on Sunday: “Central European University is one of the most important higher education institutions not only in Hungary, but also in the European higher education system.
“Therefore, I think it’s important that after the correction of possible irregularities, it can continue to operate in Budapest undisturbed.”
Demonstrators protest over the new education law
David Kaye, the United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, said it was “likely to violate the central precepts of academic freedom in a free society”.
Vera Jourova, the European Union’s commissioner for justice, said on Monday that, while the law seemed neutral on its face, it was clearly aimed at one university — a criticism that Mr Kaye echoed on Tuesday.
Ms Jourova said: “The law must be general, but this is a rather legalistic approach, to decrease the power and the influence of civil society” and to inhibit “political pluralism.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
A demonstration over the law is planned for later today.
However many Hungarians have supported the move as a wave of anti-EU sentiment has swept through the nation fuelled by a dislike of the bloc’s policies on immigration and asylum
Central European University’s president and rector, and a scholar of human rights, Michael Ignatieff said in a statement at the start of the week: “As I have said before, we are willing to sit down with the Hungarian government to find a solution to enable CEU to stay in Budapest and operate as we have done for 25 years.
“However, academic freedom is not negotiable. It is a principle that must form the basis of any future agreement.”