Thousands of people took to the streets of Hungary’s capital Budapest Sunday to protest legislation that a university founded by U.S. billionaire George Soros says is aimed at shutting it down.
There is growing opposition in Hungary and abroad to a bill proposed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government that would tighten regulations on foreign universities.
Central European University, founded by Soros in 1991, says the bill is aimed at driving it out of the country, a charge the government has denied.
The proposed new rules affect universities from non-European Union countries and would ban their awarding of Hungarian diplomas without an agreement between national governments.
Such institutions also would be required to have operations in their home countries.
The future of the CEU, which does not have a U.S. campus, now “depends on talks between the governments of Hungary and the United States,” Orban said on Friday. He also said the “Soros university” was “cheating” because it can award both a Hungarian diploma and an American one, which gives it an “unfair advantage” over local institutions.
Hungarian scholars and teaching organizations, as well as more than 500 leading international academics, including 17 Nobel laureates, have come out in support of CEU, saying it is one of the preeminent centers of thought in the country.
CEU enrolls more than 1,400 students from 108 countries.