The protesters took to the streets both to defend the CEU and protest against attempts by the government to pressure human rights and environmental groups which support refugees.
The government passed amendments to the Higher Education Act last week which would make it impossible for the CEU to continue working in Budapest – 26 years after it was set up by Hungarian-born billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros.
Image source Flickr
The Hungarian government opposes the liberal outlook of both the university and many non-governmental organizations.
The CEU has vowed to fight the legislation. The English-speaking university is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world in eight disciplines.
Viktor Orban recently claimed Hungary was “under siege” from asylum seekers.
However, the prime minister won a scholarship sponsored by George Soros to study at Oxford University and the pair were allies in the days immediately following the fall of communism in 1989.
The Central European University was founded to “resuscitate and revive intellectual freedom” in parts of Europe that had endured the “horrific ideologies” of communism and fascism. It occupies a building that began as an aristocrat’s palace before becoming state-owned offices for a planned socialist economy.
The university has 1,440 students – 335 from Hungary and the rest from 107 other countries and presents itself as a champion of free speech, with links to universities in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
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