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Central European University: conflict with Hungarian government continues

The Central European University (CEU) continues to receive strong support in Hungary and elsewhere in the world. On 21 May, thousands demonstrated in defense of academic freedom and university autonomy in the streets of Budapest, as well as in other Hungarian cities, and in Cambridge and Barcelona. Earlier, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences had offered to play the role of a ‘mediator’ in possible CEU negotiations with the Hungarian government. The IstandwithCEU campaign raised enormous support as well.

Despite of all these encouraging actions, the overall situation is unaltered. The government did not react to the Academy’s offer to mediate negotiations. Instead, CEU was invited to participate in a ‘professional consultation’ with an inter-ministerial working group. There, CEU representatives were told that the government did not intend to negotiate with CEU.

Under the new law, CEU’s license to operate can be withdrawn any time from 11 October 2017 onwards. After 1 January 2018, CEU can continue to teach and graduate students already enrolled, but it cannot accept new students.

One of the hopes of the CEU leadership and CEU’s supporters around the world is that the Hungarian Constitutional Court will rule that the new higher education law is unconstitutional.