CEU Open Letter in Response to Figyelo Article

February 3, 2017

Budapest, February 2, 2017 - Today CEU releases an open letter to the editor-in-chief of Figyelo in response to the article titled “Can the Soros School Stay?”

Dear Editor-in-Chief,

We write to you today in response to the article published in your magazine, entitled “Can the Soros School Stay?” Parts of the article give a misleading perspective.

For 25 years, CEU has been a proud part of the Hungarian higher education system. Many of our degree programs are accredited by the Hungarian authorities. The Rector receives his/her rectorship from the President of Hungary. Hungarian students represent the largest national group among our students, at 20%, and we are proud of our international student body from 117 countries. Contrary to the article’s statement, a full 40% of our faculty are Hungarian, many of whom were attracted back to Hungary from abroad by the prospect of a teaching and research position at CEU.

We employ almost 700 Hungarian citizens altogether. CEU spends nearly 10 billion Hungarian forint on employment and non-employment expenditures in Hungary each year, including taxes, social security, and health care contributions, and purchasing goods and services from Hungarian suppliers.

Budapest has been good to us, and we think we have been good to Budapest. This beautiful city is the only home we ever want to have.

We are not an NGO. We are not a political platform. We are a university, proud of our teaching and research. We have our 14,000 graduates in business, government, international organizations, and academia around the world. We collaborate with other fine Hungarian institutions such as the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, ELTE, Corvinus and others.

It is false to claim that we take research funds away from other institutions. While CEU’s researchers are indeed successful in obtaining European Union grants, 95% is an exaggeration, and these are funds that otherwise would go to other countries. The teaching and research activities conducted at CEU do not displace state universities from any market, they actually contribute to the research and education capacity of the nation. In addition, we consistently seek research collaboration with Hungarian partners, also when using our own funding for research.

We are proud of our OLIve program, which provides education for lawfully admitted refugees in Hungary. This program enables students to access higher education and the year-round program is conducted in cooperation with two other European universities: the University of Vienna and the University of East London.

We have a longstanding association with Open Society Foundation. However, we have no connection whatsoever to OSF’s funding decisions, and focus exclusively and independently on our own higher education activities.

The university was founded by George Soros and we take pride in our association with a Hungarian patriot. Nevertheless, we maintain the independence appropriate to a great university.

The article implies that the government is considering steps against CEU. On the contrary, for more than 25 years, we have had professional working relationships with every Hungarian government, including the current administration; we expect to maintain these good relations in the future.

Sincerely,

Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector, CEU