Daniel Zeichner MP and Alex Mayer, MEP for the Eastern Region, have joined the campaign against efforts by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, to close Central European University (CEU) which enjoys close links with the University of Cambridge.
Mr Orbán’s government has tabled legislation – due to come into effect next February – that would require all foreign universities in Hungary to have a physical campus in their home countries. CEU is accredited in New York but has only one campus, in Budapest.
More than 100 economists, including 14 Nobel Laureates, signed an open letter opposing government plans to make it impossible for the CEU to operate in Hungary. Current and former Regius Professors of History at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford also penned an open letter against the proposed legislation.
The intervention from Daniel Zeichner and Alex Mayer comes as Cambridge this year celebrates thirty years since it twinned with the city of Szeged in southern Hungary – a city whose mayor is a vocal opponent of Mr Orbán.
Daniel Zeichner said: “Central European University stands for academic freedom and liberty of expression. The proposed legislation would make it virtually impossible for CEU – a centre of academic excellence in the region – to operate in Budapest, threatening liberal values of democracy which are being built in a country which long suffered from tyranny.”
Alex Mayer MEP added: “I am deeply concerned by the Hungarian government's attack on academic freedom. They have listed a number of European universities that they say are acting unlawfully in their country including Anglia Ruskin, while their proposed amendment to the National Higher Education Act would make it impossible for Central European University in Budapest to continue to operate. CEU is an important research university, in receipt of substantial EU research funding, and has strong links to the University of Cambridge. I have formally written to the European Commission asking that they urgently investigate this situation.”