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Soros-funded university is 'forced out' of Hungary as repression grows

Soros-funded university is 'forced out' of Hungary as repression grows

BUDAPEST - Hungary's Central European University founded by George Soros said on Monday that it would enroll new students for its U.S. degrees in Vienna from September 2019 after the government failed to ratify a deal to ensure its continued operation.

U.S. State Department said on Monday it was disappointed that Central European University (CEU) could not continue its U.S. -accredited programs in Hungary.

"In the case of the CEU we are being forced out of the country", said Liviu Matei, the CEU's pro-rector, at a press conference.

The eviction is a violation of academic freedom, the university president said.

The move is widely seen as part of a wider campaign waged by Budapest in recent years against Soros, 88, who Orban says is orchestrating migration flows.

Michael Ignatieff, rector of the Central European University gestures during a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, on December 3, 2018.

For almost three decades CEU has been a gateway to the West for thousands of students from ex-communist eastern Europe, offering US-accredited degree programmes in an academic climate that celebrates free thought. It is Central Europes most successful applicant for competitive European Union research grant funding, with more than €19 million awarded for the 2018-26 period.

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Guy Verhofstadt, the liberal leader in the European Parliament and a former Belgian prime minister, said Orban should feel "shame", adding that it was the first time since Oslo University was forced to close by Norway's Nazi German occupiers in 1943 that a European university had been shut down.

The EU's executive commission previous year referred Hungary to court in the CEU case, saying that amendments Hungary made to its higher education law - some of which clearly targeted CEU - were counter to academic freedom and other EU rights.

According to the Post, Orban has accused Soros of encouraging immigration into Europe, which Soros has denied, according to Reuters.

A university backed by billionaire philanthropist George Soros is being "forced out" of Hungary as the country's government refused to sign an agreement allowing it to stay.

CEU, founded in Budapest in 1991, says it has complied with all the new regulations set by Orban's government, which has refused to sign off on an already agreed document with the State of NY that would allow CEU to stay. Enrolled students will complete their studies in Budapest.

Mr. Ignatieff said he believes the university has a legal basis to continue to operate in Hungary, but it's not clear what stance the Hungarian government will take.