20 Nobel Laureates, Other Leading Academics Urge Hungarian Government to Withdraw Tabled Legislation Targeting Central European University

PRESS RELEASE UPDATE: Budapest, April 3 -- Now over 500 prominent U.S. and European academics, including 20 Nobel Laureates have signed an open letter in support of Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Attached below is a live document that will be updated as more academics add their support. Two of the Nobel Laureates are cognitive scientists. The letter from academics in that field is available here. Every day the list of supporters is growing. The full lists of governments, academic institutions and individuals are accessible here and here

Budapest, March 31 -- Over 150 prominent U.S. and European academics, including 14 Nobel Laureates, have signed an open letter in support of Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government is seeking new legislation that endangers the academic freedom of the University. In addition to the Nobel Laureate signatories, other prominent academics including seven winners of the John Bates Clark Medal, the presidents of the European, American and the International Economic Associations, editors and former editors of leading academic journals signed the letter. Representatives from CEU and other organizations are available for interviews (see below). A full list of signatories is attached.

The academics ask, “in the strongest possible terms,” that the government withdraw the new tabled legislation. They express their admiration for CEU, and emphasize that they “have learned a tremendous amount from, and cooperated productively with, researchers from CEU.” They also point to the many students who received postgraduate degrees at CEU after obtaining a world-class education in Central and Eastern European public universities. They believe that the integration of CEU into the broader system of higher education in Hungary is essential for the success of the country.

The text of letter follows:

We have learned with concern about proposed legislation that would make it impossible or impracticable for the Central European University to continue its operations in Budapest.

We would like to express our admiration for Central European University, which is a leading university in the region, and is well integrated in the broader system of Hungarian and European higher education. We have learned a tremendous amount from, and cooperated productively with, researchers from CEU. We have been fortunate to meet many students who received postgraduate degrees at CEU, after obtaining a world-class basic education in Hungarian -- and other Central and Eastern European -- public universities. CEU’s integration in and cooperation with other academic institutions in the region is fundamental to the success of Hungary.

It would be a sad outcome for the training of students from the region, for academic research in Hungary, and for our own cooperation with Hungarian academics, if the proposed legislation came into force. We therefore ask, respectfully but in the strongest possible terms, that your government withdraw this legislation.”

Notes to editors

Central European University brings together students and faculty from over 100 countries for graduate study in an extraordinarily international, interdisciplinary atmosphere that encourages open debate and the exchange of ideas. Established in 1991 by American-Hungarian financier and philanthropist George Soros and other intellectuals from the region, CEU remains true to its original mission, to prepare future leaders to build and support open and democratic societies that respect human rights and the rule of law. Accredited in both the U.S. and Hungary, the University offers English-language graduate degree programs in the social sciences and humanities, business and economics, environmental sciences and policy, law, network science, cognitive science and mathematics. It draws on the research tradition of great American universities as well as the most valuable intellectual legacies of Central Europe. Distinctive for the integrated approach it brings to teaching, research and public service, CEU also emphasizes comparative and interdisciplinary coursework and engages in collaborative research projects to create new knowledge and to help solve complex societal problems.

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. The Prize in Economic Sciences is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden, according to the same principles as for the Nobel Prizes that have been awarded since 1901.

John Bates Clark Medal One of the most prestigious and eagerly anticipated American Economic Association awards, the John Bates Clark Medal is awarded annually each April (formerly biennially from 1947-2009) to that American economist under the age of forty who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge. The Bates Clark medal brings notable professional benefits and several winners have gone on to become Nobel Laureates.

Available for Interviews:

CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff; CEU Pro-Rector for Hungarian Affairs. Zsolt Enyedi; Nobel Laureate Alvin E. Roth, Stanford University; Professor Philippe Aghion, London School of Economics


COLLEEN SHARKEY | International Media Relations Manager

E-mail: sharkeyc@ceu.edu

Phone: +36 1 327-3000 x 2321

Mobile: +36 30 916 2273 

For Michael Ignatieff and Zsolt Enyedi contact Colleen Sharkey at CEU 

For Alvin Roth contact Stanford University

For Philippe Aghion contact LSE

For academics at UCL contact their press office

For academics at Princeton, contact their press office