Hungary in talks with US officials on higher education law amendment
In a letter sent to Betsy DeVos, the US secretary of education, Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog welcomed DeVos’s acknowledgment of the Hungarian higher education law.
In her letter, dated June 15, Secretary DeVos expressed appreciation for the information Balog had provided her regarding the amendment of the law and the status of Budapest’s Central European University (CEU). She also took note of the other higher education institutions with US ties that might be affected by the amendment.
“Education is primarily a state and local responsibility in the United States,” the secretary wrote in her letter. “The U.S. higher education institutions engaged in higher education activities in Hungary were all chartered or authorized by a competent state-level authority and are accredited by a U.S.-based accreditor recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.” Regarding the stipulation in the amendment requiring that an interstate agreement be signed before foreign universities may award degrees in Hungary, DeVos wrote that the feasibility of such agreements needed to be discussed with state-level authorities.
In his reply on Wednesday, Balog welcomed the secretary’s acknowledgement of the changes in Hungarian regulations and said that Hungarian officials have already taken up contact with the states of Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. “We hope that the negotiating parties will come to a mutually satisfying resolution concerning this complex legal issue”, he said.
Hungary tightened rules governing the operations of foreign universities in the country in April. The amendment, seen by many as tailored as an attack on the CEU funded by US financier George Soros, stipulates that to issue degrees in Hungary, foreign-registered universities have to undertake education in their home countries or have an interstate agreement sanctioning their activities in Hungary. The government initiated talks on the issue with the US in April.