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'Unprecedented' Move Against School Founded by Soros

Central European University says it's been forced out of Hungary, the first school in EU to be booted
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2018 8:33 AM CST
In this April 9, 2017, file photo, demonstrators hold posters as they protest against the efforts to close Central European University.   (Janos Marjai/MTI via AP, file)
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(Newser) – Central European University is said to be the best graduate school in Hungary, but it just became the first university to get kicked out of an EU nation. The Washington Post calls it "one of the surest signals to date of autocracy's return to the country," and it's apparently tied to the ongoing "grudge match" between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, who founded the CEU. The school has been a target since at least spring 2017, when Hungary pushed through legislation that mandated foreign schools establish academic programs in their home countries. CEU set up a program at New York's Bard College, but Hungary refuses to recognize it. "Arbitrary eviction of a reputable university is a flagrant violation of academic freedom," CEU announced. "It is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary."

Orban has long gone after the liberal Soros, a feud that escalated in 2015 after the Orban-led right-wing government took issue with Soros calling for the humane treatment of refugees, per the Guardian. BuzzFeed also paints the development as a "defeat for the Trump administration," as US officials had lobbied to keep the school where it is, and Trump has tried to curry favor with Orban rather than isolating him, as previous US presidents had done. Al Jazeera notes the university had set a Dec. 1 deadline for a deal to be struck with Hungary and that its decision to leave wasn't by choice. "CEU has been forced out," says the school's president, Michael Ignatieff, per Euronews. "This is unprecedented." The university will relocate to Vienna. (Facebook admits it conducted opposition research on Soros.)

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