WASHINGTON – In light of the Hungarian parliament’s recent legislative action that threatens to forcibly close the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) – Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation – led a bipartisan group of ten other senators on Wednesday in calling on the Hungarian government to take action to ensure that the University can remain in Budapest. In a letter addressed to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the group of senators expressed concern that the legislation threatens academic freedom throughout Hungary, and emphasized the important role of CEU in facilitating cultural and academic connections between the United States and Hungary.
“CEU has become one of the highest-ranked universities in Europe, bringing new opportunities and prestige to Hungarian citizens. This legislation threatens academic freedom and disregards the longstanding relationship CEU has with the Hungarian people,” wrote the senators. “Instead of shutting down academic institutions that expand bilateral relationships, we should be working to strengthen them and expand their accessibility. Ultimately, we fear that this legislation puts at risk academic institutions and academic freedom in Hungary. We encourage you to work with CEU to find a solution that ensures their continued place as an important center of higher education in Europe and a valuable link between our two countries.”
U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined Murphy in sending the letter.
The full text of the letter is available online and below:
Dear Prime Minister Orbán,
We are writing today with concern about legislation passed by the National Assembly that threatens the existence of Central European University, an accredited U.S. institution of higher learning and one of Europe’s most renowned universities. Since its founding in 1991, Central European University in Budapest has demonstrated a commitment to rigorous academic study, outstanding scholarly research, and a diverse student body. It has also played an important role in developing cultural and academic ties between Hungary and the United States through student exchanges and study abroad programs that benefit both our countries. In so doing, Central European University has become one of the highest-ranked universities in Europe, bringing new opportunities and prestige to Hungarian citizens.
As you know, the legislation includes a requirement that foreign-accredited universities operate a campus in their own countries. It includes exceptions that would apply to the other 27 international universities in Hungary, so that in the end it applies solely to CEU. This legislation threatens academic freedom and disregards the longstanding relationship Central European University has with the Hungarian people. Cooperation and exchanges in the field of education are foundational elements of the Helsinki Final Act. Instead of shutting down academic institutions that expand bilateral relationships, we should be working together to strengthen them and expand their accessibility.
Ultimately, we fear that this legislation puts at risk academic institutions and academic freedom in Hungary. The Hungarian people have long benefited from Central European University’s educational activities in your country. We encourage you to work with Central European University to find a solution that ensures their continued place as an important center of higher education in Europe and a valuable link between our two countries.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch
U.S. Senator John McCain
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz
U.S. Senator Ed Markey
U.S. Senator Cory Booker