- 29 Oct 2018 11:00 AM
- Hungary Matters
Ignatieff said a Hungarian examination had found that their expectations had been met. Further, as far as the CEU’s accreditation in the United States is concerned, the university has met its obligations, he added.
A few weeks ago, however, the American ambassador signalled that the Hungarian government does not want to sign the related international convention, he added.
The rector said the CEU wanted to comply with Hungarian laws and remain in Budapest. Last week, the university’s leadership met Hungarian officials but they failed to reach a satisfactory outcome.
The CEU would welcome further talks but wants its academic freedom as a US institution operating in Hungary to be recognised, the rector said, adding that the US Congress also underlined the importance of the CEU remaining in Hungary.
Ignatieff said the Vienna campus has been preparing to open for several months. This will go ahead even if the CEU can retain its freedoms in Hungary, he said.
The US embassy said in a statement that the US ambassador to Hungary is working to resolve the issue of the Central European University’s status in Hungary.
Ambassador David Cornstein said: “CEU remains a priority for the U.S. Government and has overwhelming bipartisan support in the United States.”
“I understand CEU’s position -- prolonged uncertainty is not sustainable for an academic institution. However, a solution is still possible. There is a small window to resolve this, but it needs to happen fast. I am working with both parties to continue the negotiations and find an acceptable resolution before December 1,” the statement added.
The opposition Socialist Party said the CEU had been subjected to political persecution and its departure from Hungary would be a loss to the country and its higher education system.
The Socialists called on the government to respect the law and recognise an interstate agreement tied to the university’s operations. The CEU’s announcement is due to a political attack rather than professional necessity, deputy group leader István Hiller told a press conference.
Vilnius, he noted, has expressed willingness to join Vienna in hosting the university if it is forced to leave Hungary.
Hiller, a former education minister, said the ruling parties had decided to amend the education law in spring 2017, and everybody who understood Hungary’s higher education system and legislation knew that the move was aimed at curtailing the CEU.
An agreement between the CEU and Bard College in New York State meets Hungary’s higher education law in every way, yet the Hungarian government refuses to sign it, he said.