University led by Ignatieff forced to relocate out of Hungary

University led by Ignatieff forced to relocate out of Hungary

CEU said the government of Hungary had refused to listen to the representations they received from members of the US Congress, the Office of the Governor of the State of NY, the Venice Commission, members of the European Parliament, leaders of universities around the world, over two dozen Nobel Laureates, and above all, the thousands of Hungarians from all walks of life who demonstrated peacefully and called for “free universities in a free country”.

U.S. billionaire Soros, who promotes liberal causes through his charities, has been locked in a bitter disagreement with Hungary's conservative anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government.

Ignatieff told a news conference later that the CEU had received a "clear and unequivocal" welcome in Austria. "It is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary", CEU's statement added. "We're being driven out of Hungary by a government that is consolidating single-party rule", he said.

Attracting students from over 100 countries and mainly offering US-accredited masters programs, CEU has always been regarded by the nationalist Orban as a hostile bastion of liberalism. "It is now for the Court (of Justice of the European Union) to clarify this matter".

CEU's departure was reportedly the reflection of conflict between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and George Soros.

The EU's executive commission past year referred Hungary to court in the CEU case, saying that amendments Hungary made to its higher education law - some of which clearly targeted CEU - were counter to academic freedom and other EU rights.

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Orban's critics say the legal changes deliberately targeted CEU, which is reguarly ranked as the top university in Hungary. Orban accuses Soros of encouraging mass immigration into Europe, a charge the philanthropist denies.

While the agreement for CEU to remain in Budapest has to be signed and ratified by parliament by December 31, the university set a December 1 deadline for its decision on the move to Vienna to still have time to recruit students for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The university will retain accreditation and aims to continue providing opportunities for teaching and research in Budapest "as long as it's possible", the statement said.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Leon Botstein, said Vienna and the Austrian federal government had welcomed CEU "with open arms" as part of their commitment to academic freedom and research. Enrolled students will complete their studies in Budapest.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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