Hungary passes law altering requirements for foreign universities

Hungary passes law altering requirements for foreign universities

Hungary’s president Janos Ader [BBC profile] on Monday signed legislation requiring foreign universities in Hungary to also have campuses their home country. This is an issue for schools like Central European University (CEU) [university website], which has a campus in Hungary but nowhere else, even though it states that the university has a dual US-Hungary identity. The school, financed by the Hungarian-born campaigner for “open society” George Soros, may have to move out of the country. The legislation is criticized for allegedly targeting foreign universities [Reuters report] in Hungary as a part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s [official website] campaign pledge to protect national interests against “foreign meddling in Hungarian affairs.” Opponents of the legislation say that the government is forcing out important education centers in Hungary. The government has argued that it is not forcing out or closing down any schools bur rather ensuring that all schools are governed by the same set of rules without privileges.

The Hungarian National Assembly passed the law [JURIST report] early this month. The legislation requires that CEU open a campus in the US by February 15, 2018 to remain in Hungary. There have been concerns in the past over Prime Minister Orban’s views on nationalism. At the beginning of Orbán’s term, Hungary adopted a new constitution called the Fundamental Law [text, pdf], which has been criticized for neglecting international human rights standards and fast-tracking political procedures in a manner that jeopardizes the country’s separation of powers. Furthermore, there has been concern over the administration’s human rights views with the International Federation for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch [JURIST reports] addressing Hungary’s laws and practices regarding human rights.