George Soros’ graduate school says it is being forced out of Hungary

People stand inside the Central European University building in Budapest on Dec 3 2018

Soros-founded Budapest university 'forced to move to Vienna'

BUDAPEST - Hungary's Central European University founded by George Soros said on Monday that it would enroll new students for its United States degrees in Vienna from September 2019 after the government failed to ratify a deal to ensure its continued operation.

CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff said Monday that the university "has been forced out" of Hungary, calling it an "unprecedented" act against an American university by a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and against a European university by a member of the European Union.

CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff said Monday that the university "has been forced out".

U.S. billionaire Soros, who promotes liberal causes through his charities, has been locked in a bitter disagreement with Hungary's conservative anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying the U.S. government was "disappointed" that no agreement had been concluded between Orban's government and CEU, which has an enrollment of over 1,400 students from 118 countries, as well as almost 400 permanent or visiting faculty.

The move is widely seen as part of a wider campaign waged by Budapest in recent years against Soros, 88, who Orban says is orchestrating migration flows.

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For almost three decades CEU has been a gateway to the West for thousands of students from ex-communist eastern Europe, offering US -accredited degree programmes in an academic climate that celebrates free thought.

Arbitrary eviction of a reputable university is a flagrant violation of academic freedom, the statement of CEU says, adding that it is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary. It is Central Europes most successful applicant for competitive European Union research grant funding, with more than €19 million awarded for the 2018-26 period.

In addition, in accordance with the law of the foreign educational institution has to operate not only in Hungary but also in the country where it was established.

The CEU will keep its Budapest campus and those students who have enrolled there will be able to complete their studies.

But he said the Orban government would not accept CEU's moves and ultimately refused to sign an agreement necessary to let it continue as a USA -accredited institution in Budapest.

While the agreement for CEU to remain in Budapest has to be signed and ratified by parliament by December 31, the university set a December 1 deadline for its decision on the move to Vienna to still have time to recruit students for the 2019-2020 academic year.

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