The Central European University (CEU) offers no post-graduate courses at Bard College (BC) in the United States, daily Magyar Idők said on Thursday citing an audio recording that features the head of the college’s education department.
Hungary tightened rules governing the operations of foreign universities in the country last year, requiring foreign colleges and universities in Hungary to operate on the basis of an interstate agreement and to run a campus in the country in which they are based.
CEU, which is based in Budapest but accredited by the State of New York, complained that it was targeted by the amended legislation because it has no campus in the United States. In the autumn, CEU said it signed a memorandum of understanding with BC to provide educational activities in New York.
In the audio recording Director of Graduate Admissions at BC Janet Stetson told a student making an inquiry about CEU training courses at BC that CEU offered no master degree courses at BC or any other form of training in the US.
Under what Stetson qualified as very loose cooperation, BA students at Bard College spend half a year or a full one at the CEU as partial transfer students, and can only complete their studies and get their BA degree after returning to the US.
All BC courses linked to the CEU are offered only at the CEU and not in the US, the paper said citing the audio recording with Stetson. What CEU offers at BC are not post-graduate courses, it added.
Magyar Idők called this important because whereas post-graduate courses did offer a second degree, partial transfer students were not eligible for a recognised certificate.
CEU deputy rector Zsolt Enyedi told the paper that the Advanced Certificate Program offered by the CEU represented a form of post-graduate training and only students holding a CEU or BC degree who are still enrolled in one of the two universities were eligible for the programme.
Magyar Hírlap commented that the two conditions were difficult to meet simultaneously because a student would only be eligible to apply for a CEU course in the US if he or she is already enrolled in a post-grad course.
Enyedi also told the paper that it was not Stetson but Vice President for Academic Affairs Jonathan Becker who was in charge of the programme.
He added that CEU launched another programme in New York from September, by converting an international affairs MA programme previously only available in Budapest to a Budapest-New York programme. This is not a joint programme with BC because the CEU provides all the necessary conditions for it, he said.
Magyar Idők said that based on the above information, CEU falsely claimed that it had launched educational activities in the US and it still did not meet the requirements of the Hungarian law.
The paper cited government spokesman Zoltán Kovács as saying that information revealed about the agreement between the CEU and Bard College show that
the CEU failed to fulfil the criteria that all other international higher education institutions operating in Hungary met, namely that they offer educational activities in their home country and have a campus there.
CEU responded by refuting what it said was a series of “inaccuracies” published by Magyar Idok.
The university said in a statement that the academic programme it had launched with Bard College fulfilled the Hungarian higher education legislation requirement to conduct educational activity in its home country.
“The US authority regulating educational activity, the New York State Education Department, has repeatedly confirmed its registration and approval of this program in the state in direct correspondence to the Hungarian authorities, and CEU has released this information publicly on more than one occasion,” CEU said.
It quoted CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff as saying that “this is a malicious attempt not only to discredit CEU but to discredit the American regulators who have repeatedly confirmed that we conduct educational activities in the US”.
“This campaign of disinformation needs to stop. CEU complied over a year ago. It is the Hungarian government that is making a solution impossible,” the rector said.