US State Department urges Orbán’s government to suspend implementation of higher education law
Washington, DC, April 12 (MTI) – The United States Department of State is urging the Hungarian government to suspend implementation of an amended law on higher education, acting spokesman Mark Toner said at a press briefing in Washington, DC on Monday, local time.
He said the US government is “very concerned” about the legislation which was passed by Hungary’s parliament last week and signed into law by the president this week. The US Department of State believes it threatens the continued operations of Central European University, Toner said.
“So we’re urging the [Hungarian government] to suspend implementation of the law. We want to see a review and discussion in order to address any concerns through dialogue with the university itself and other affected institutions going forward,” he added.
He described CEU as “a leading academic institution” and “an important conduit for intellectual and cultural exchanges between Hungary and the United States”.
“And frankly, it’s at the center of freethinking and research. The legislation, we believe, can also similarly threaten the operations of other American universities with degree programs in Hungary, so it goes beyond just Central European University,” he said.
The law stipulates that foreign universities operating in Hungary must also pursue educational activities in their country of origin and an intergovernmental contract should be signed to regulate their operations.
Critics of the law say that its aim was to make the operation of CEU, founded by US financier George Soros, impossible. The US charge d’affaires in Budapest had previously expressed concerns about the amendment proposal before it was passed by parliament.
State secretary for education László Palkovics said on Brussels on Tuesday that the government had no intention of closing down CEU and the amended law on higher education only served to resolve certain issues.