Education & Family

New York governor says progress in Hungary university talks

protest Budapest Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Street protests in Budapest called for the university to be protected

New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, says his talks with Hungarian authorities over a threatened university are making "good progress".

The Central European University in Budapest has become the centre of a symbolic, international stand-off.

The university says Hungary's government has been trying to force its closure and undermine academic freedom.

The university has accreditation in New York, and Mr Cuomo has been hosting negotiations.

"We look forward to a speedy resolution that safeguards the integrity of CEU and its vital educational mission," said a statement from Mr Cuomo after a meeting with Hungarian government representatives.

Street protests

The fate of the university in Budapest has embroiled Hungary's prime minister, other European leaders, the European Parliament, international university heads and the US government.

It has been seen as a battle between Western, liberal values and more authoritarian, nationalist attitudes - and the threat to the university's future prompted street protests in Budapest.

University president Michael Ignatieff said that this was a "line in the sand" and would be the first time since World War Two that a European democracy had forced a university to close.

"That's what makes it unprecedented. That's what makes it shocking," Mr Ignatieff told the BBC last month.

"We're a free institution, and this is about a drive to control."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The dispute over the university has now moved to talks in New York

But Hungary's government has said that is being misrepresented and that the university is seeking privileges not available to other Hungarian universities.

Adding to the controversy is that the university was founded by the liberal philanthropist George Soros - who has been heavily criticised by Hungary's government.

The university is accredited in both Hungary and in New York state in the United States - and Mr Cuomo had said that he would hold talks with Hungary's government with the aim of keeping the university open.

Hungary's leader, Viktor Orban, had been a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump before he was elected.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The dispute has been by protesters as a symbol of moving away from the West

But the US government has strongly backed the CEU university, accusing Hungary's government of imposing "discriminatory, onerous requirements on US-accredited institutions in Hungary", which, it says, "threatens academic freedom and independence".

The US has urged the Hungarian government to engage directly in talks with the CEU university.

The Hungarian government says that all institutions with overseas links will have to comply with university regulations - but it remained open to the talks with US authorities.

The university, responding to the talks in New York, said: "CEU is not a participant in the negotiations, but we hope they lead to a solution that enables CEU to remain in Budapest as a free institution."

Related Topics

More on this story