George Soros’s Open Society University Network: “The power to transform global higher education”

January 24, 2020

George Soros has announced a new university network, with CEU as a founding partner, to better prepare students for current and future global challenges. He is endowing the network with one billion dollars ($1 billion) and asking other philanthropists to contribute.

Addressing an audience in Davos, Switzerland, CEU Founder and philanthropist George Soros stated that humanity's "best hope lies in access to an education that reinforces the autonomy of the individual by cultivating critical thinking and emphasizing academic freedom." Adding that--some 30 years previously--he had set up "an educational institution that does exactly that," Mr Soros pointed out that the mission of Central European University is to advance the values of the open society. He praised CEU as one of the hundred best graduate universities in the world in the social sciences and also one of the most international universities.

The Open Society University Network (OSUN) will operate throughout the world, integrating teaching and research across higher education institutions worldwide, and offering simultaneously taught courses and joint degree programs. The Network aims to reach those students who need it the most, and to promote the values of open society – including free expression and diversity of beliefs.

Bringing students and faculty from different countries together with in-person and online discussions, OSUN will seek to promote rigorous education and reach institutions in need of international partners. This is to include neglected populations, such as refugees, incarcerated people, the Roma and other displaced groups.

OSUN, with the help of its allies, is ready to launch a major "scholars at risk" program, merging a large number politically endangered scholars into this new global network.
Already, OSUN is connecting institutions of higher learning, holding networked courses that unite students and faculty from several universities located in different parts of the world in the classroom, sharing faculty, and conducting joint research projects in which people from many universities collaborate.

Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of Central European University said: "George Soros' magnificent gift has the potential to transform global higher education in defense of open society. CEU is deeply proud to be a founding member of OSUN and will work hard with all of our partners to make the network a reality that changes the lives of students and faculty around the world. "

Central European University and Bard College form the core of the new network. They will partner with Arizona State University, a world leader in distance learning, and other institutions around the globe, such as the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan and BRAC University in Bangladesh. Each institution in the network will of course maintain its own academic and institutional autonomy and independence.

Leon Botstein, Chair of CEU's Board of Trustees and President of Bard College has been named as the first Chancellor of OSUN.