Hungary: university legislation dispute spills out onto the streets

Hungary’s right-wing government says it will not backtrack on a new draft law staff at a foreign-funded university in Budapest say will force it out of the country.

The Central European University (CEU) was set up by American philanthropist George Soros, a billionaire who has a tense relationship with Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

The proposed bill would tighten regulations on non-European Union institutions issuing diplomas in Hungary. The CEU claims to be directly targeted.

“You can’t run a free university anywhere in Europe unless it has the freedom to teach, the freedom to hire, the freedom to choose the students. And this bill imposes government restrictions on all of those,” said CEU President and Rector, Michael Ignatieff.

It is the latest in a series of problems plaguing western-style institutions in parts of eastern Europe.

But Hungarian authorities say the situation has been blown out of proportion.

Janos Lazar, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office told euronews:

“It is all just hysteria. Moreover it’s sometimes political hysteria in our point of view. Foreign universities cannot mislead their students, they cannot abuse their situation, and if they are operating in Hungary, they have to do it according to Hungarian laws.”

Students say they will continue to call for the draft legislation to be revoked, as our correspondent in Budapest, Andrea Hajagos, reported:

“The stand at the university initially started on social media, but some people also decided to organise a demonstration for Saturday, which will be here at the CEU buildings.”

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