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Mar 31, 2017

PM Orbán says the 'Soros university' must comply with the law

Hungarian universities have a good reason to complain because CEU has an unfair advantage due to the unclear legal situation, PM Orban said

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said the future of the “Soros university”, aka CEU, depends on US-Hungarian intergovernmental talks.

During his regular radio interview slot on Kossuth Radio this morning, the prime minister said a recent investigation by the education office revealed that the operation of several foreign universities, including Hungarian-born US financier “George Soros’s university”, fell foul of regulations. “Even if someone is a billionaire, they cannot be above the law in Hungary … cheating is cheating, no matter who does it," PM Orbán said.

The prime minister said CEU enjoyed an unfair advantage over Hungarian universities because it can award both a Hungarian degree and an American one despite admitting that it does not operate abroad, which is against Hungarian regulations.

In response to the question about whether CEU would be able to operate in Hungary in the future, PM Orbán said this would depend on US-Hungarian talks and an agreement. No discussions have taken place with the US government on the issue, he added.

In line with the bill, an intergovernmental agreement would be necessary for any foreign university to operate in Hungary, he said.

Asked whether talks would also be held with CEU, he said all CEU must do is comply with the law. “We won’t have talks with them because they are not the US government, even if that’s what they might want to be,” he added.

Hungarian universities have a good reason to complain because CEU has an unfair advantage due to the unclear legal situation, PM Orban said. A Hungarian university can issue only one degree, a Hungarian one, yet “there is a university that operates in Hungary that issues two degrees, a Hungarian and also an American one”. This is unfair to Hungarian universities because there is competition between all universities and “it is unconceivable why we should keep our own Hungarian universities at a disadvantage” and offer unjust benefits to foreigners, PM Orban added.