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Nov 07, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Consider the CEU’s so-called “campus” in New York

Hungary just needs to sign the agreement, say the liberal critics. The CEU has gone to great lengths to fulfill everything they were required to do under Hungary’s Law on Higher Education. “Academic freedom” must be preserved!

CEU

That view, unfortunately, does not grasp the full picture.

For any reasonable observer who is still capable of hearing the facts on CEU in Hungary, those arguments are hard to stomach when you consider the details and the CEU’s so-called “campus” in New York.

First, let’s recall a couple of details. The Hungarian law on higher education applies equally to all universities offering accredited higher education in Hungary.

The law says that if you’re handing out diplomas in Hungary with an accreditation in your home country or your home state – New York, for example – then you should in fact be doing something that resembles higher education in New York. Is that unreasonable? No, it isn’t.

Well, CEU was doing nothing even close to university education in New York, prior to these amendments to the Hungarian law. Instead they operated as a sort of “offshore” university, handing out diplomas somehow accredited in the State of New York.

Other US universities complied with the law and have a signed agreement with the government of Hungary. McDaniel College in Maryland, for example, had no problem.

But CEU? The university erected something like a Potemkin campus at the Soros-funded Bard College. The CEU “campus” in New York consists of one, wooden house in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York that shares office space with something called the Center for Civic-Engagement. The CEU has only one academic program accredited by the State of New York, something called “analysis of inequalities”. 

A reasonable person might consider those facts and wonder whether that genuinely meets the requirements. 

Meanwhile, the registered Hungarian affiliate of CEU, the Közép-europai Egyetem, the one that is accredited in Hungary, has not missed a day of classes.

But if you were to believe CEU leadership and the liberal, mainstream media, then you would fret that academic freedom is in jeopardy in Hungary.