Hungarian president ratifies controversial Act on higher education

BUDAPEST-- Hungarian President Janos Ader on Monday ratified the controversial Act on higher education which threatens to close the Central European University (CEU) founded by Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros.

This comes a day after a large mass demonstration urged him to refuse to sign the regulation.

"The new bill does not affect the continuity of the work in the universities accredited and recognized in Hungary," said the president in a statement published on his official website. "That is why I ratified the law on the present day," he added.

The new regulation demands an international treaty to be signed between Hungary and the home country of a foreign university that operates in Hungary. Under the rules, the foreign university operating in Hungary also needs to have accredited courses in its home country.

The new legal framework also demands that the institutions have faculties in their home country, which CEU does not have.

Several Hungarian and foreign universities, as well as world leaders and Nobel prize winners, have asked the Hungarian government to reconsider its position.

Speaking in the Parliament on Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the Hungarian government "would not close any universities, thus, it would not close the University of George Soros either."

"The government only wants to cease the privileges of some universities, and want that every regulation apply identically to the each university," he explained.

The Embassy of the United Stated expressed disappointment over the rapid adoption of the law. The American side announced it would send a delegation to Budapest to examine the situation.

"If the U.S. sends a delegation to get informed in Hungary, we will receive them and tell them everything," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told journalists on Monday.

CEU was founded in 1991 and based first in Prague and later in Budapest. It delivers both American and Hungarian diplomas. It currently has approximately 1,400 students and 370 faculty members from more than 130 countries and regions. It is viewed by the Hungarian government as a hostile stronghold of liberalism, according to reports.

Source: Philippines News Agency