Hungary passes controversial bill targeting Central European University

Hungary passes controversial bill targeting Central European University

PanARMENIAN.Net - Hungary has passed a bill which could force an internationally respected university out the country.

The 199-seat parliament voted 123 to 38 in favour of the legislation, placing tough restrictions on foreign universities operating in Hungary.

It is the latest battle declared by the right-wing Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, against liberalism.

The main target is believed to be the Central European University (CEU) and its founder, George Soros.

The English-speaking university, which is still partly-funded by the Hungarian-born philanthropist, is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world in eight disciplines.

But the governing Fidesz party - officials from which have repeatedly referred to CEU as "the Soros university" - see it as a bastion of liberalism.

The prime minister is a known critic of liberal NGOs which are partially funded by Soros, 86, with whom he has a strained relationship.

This bill will effectively force CEU from Hungary - where it occupies prime real estate in the centre - as it requires foreign universities to have a campus both in the capital and their home countries.

CEU only has a campus in Budapest.

It also bans universities outside the EU from awarding Hungarian diplomas without an agreement between national governments - in this case, the US.

Despite this, a CEU spokesman has said: "This fight is not over. We will contest the constitutionality of this legislation and seek all available legal remedies."

CEU Rector Michael Ignatieff has previously said the bill marks "the first time that a member of the European Union dared to legislate an attack on the academic freedom of a university".

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