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Hungary passes bill targeting Soros "University"

Hungary passes bill targeting Soros

Hungary's president on Monday signed a law that sets new requirements for foreign universities and could force out Central European University, one of Hungary's top global schools founded by USA financier George Soros.

However, street protests in Budapest against the closure of the CEU were "the first really major expression of discontent in Hungary since [Hungarian prime minister Viktor] Orbán's rule began, and it's come from the universities and it's come from the academic community, with huge support worldwide for the CEU", Ms Wilson said.

Some of the requirements, such as carrying out teaching activities in their home countries, are seen specifically targeting the Central European University (CEU), which was set up by Soros in 1991.

Some 70,000 people are attending a Budapest rally in support of a local university founded by American billionaire George Soros that is seen as a target for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's illiberal policies.

The law also calls for bilateral agreements between Hungary and the home countries of universities from outside the European Union on how to manage the institutions.

The Hungarian government's efforts to shut down a university in Budapest drew a sharp rebuke from the EU's commissioner for justice. CEU only has a campus in Budapest.

Speaking in Brussels after talks with Commission officials, Hungary's State Secretary for Education Laszlo Palkovics said his government did not want to close down any university and sought only to protect students against unverified institutions issuing fake diplomas. The law, which was rushed through parliament in less than a week, would require the CEU to change its name and open a campus in the US.

The bill, a modification of legislation from 2011, "does not infringe (rights of) freedom of learning or of teaching" enshrined in Hungary's constitution, Ader said in a statement published by state news agency MTI.

CEU, which is accredited in NY state as well as Hungary, has said both rules were prohibitive as costs would be too steep and Washington had no jurisdiction over it.

The response has been huge - with leading academic institutions in Hungary and around the world, as well as governments, politicians and individuals condemning the moves by the Hungarian government.

On April 10, Hungarian President Janos Ader signed legislation that could force CEU from the country.

Yee said "the United States does not engage in such agreements about. how universities are going to be run in foreign countries".

The CEU has vowed to fight the legislation. Government media mouthpieces have bombarded the public with false messages describing nongovernment groups (NGOs) as paid foreign agents that support irregular immigration and endanger Hungary.

The bill still has to be signed into law by President Janos Ader.