Because Hungary's Lex CEU forbids Central European University to accept new students after January 1, 2019, CEU is forced to announce today that it will launch all USA -accredited degree programs in Vienna in September 2019, says the university in its press release.
The university, which serves about 1,400 worldwide students, has made a decision to move its USA -accredited degree programs from Hungary to neighbouring Austria next September after meeting with ongoing resistance from the Orban regime, said Ignatieff, the school's president and rector since 2016.
"This forced move is a blow to academic freedom, which is a fundamental right, and all the more troubling given that Hungary is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union member state", she said.
CEU's Hungary campus was established in 1991 by George Soros, a Democratic U.S. billionaire.
The bill's adoption, seen by critics as a blow against academic freedom, was cited in a recent scathing EU report on Hungary that prompted the European Parliament to launch unprecedented so-called "Article 7" legal action against Budapest in September.
Ignatieff said while CEU had "a pretty good (legal) case" at those courts, he would not speculate about their outcomes. In the statement, Ignatieff called the forced removal "a flagrant violation of academic freedom", adding, "It is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary".
Michael Ignatieff, rector of the Central European University gestures during a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, on December 3, 2018.
CEU is a graduate institution accredited in the United States and Hungary with 1,200 masters and doctoral students in the humanities, social sciences, business, law, and cognitive and network science. But the Central European University and the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban failed to agree.
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.
Orban's government has conducted massive billboard and media campaigns against Soros blaming him for Europe's migrant crisis, a charge that Soros denies.
Hungary's new law requires foreign-accredited universities to provide education services in their home countries and bans them from awarding Hungarian diplomas without an agreement between Budapest and the country of accreditation.
But the Hungarian government had made it clear it had no intention of signing the agreement that it negotiated over a year ago with the State of NY, which would ensure CEUs operations continued in Budapest for the long term, CEU said.
The CEU, however, plans to keep its Budapest campus and those students who have already enrolled there will be able to complete their studies.