If Hungary’s government fails to remove legal obstacles to its academic freedom, the Central European University in Budapest has warned it will move most of its teaching to Vienna.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has targeted the CEU’s liberal founder, George Soros. But the government says it does not want the US-registered university to go.
According to the BBC, however, sources say the government has failed to honour a deal on the CEU continuing to issue American-accredited degrees. Now, the CEU wants a response by 1 December.
“If the government thinks it can get rid of us that easily, it is mistaken,” Rector Michael Ignatieff told the BBC.
With the backing of the European Commission, the US government, academics and Nobel Prize winners from around the world, CEU has 1,400 postgraduate students from more than 100 countries. It ranks high in global university league tables.
According to BBC, however, the university has become a symbol in Hungary of the battle between national populists and liberals.
Last year, Orban’s government made changes to the Higher Education Act, which critics say makes it almost impossible for the CEU to operate.
The new US ambassador to Hungary, David Cornstein, is now in contact with the Hungarian government to save the university.