Hungarian government forces CEU to suspend refugee programme

Institution obliged to yield to new government legislation on refugees and asylum seekers

August 29, 2018
Source: istock

Government pressure has forced the Central European University in Budapest to suspend its educational programmes for registered refugees and asylum seekers.

The move hits a programme called the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve), and also forces the CEU to stop administering its European Union-funded Marie Curie Research Grant on migration policy in central and southern Europe.

The CEU has long been a target of Viktor Orbán’s populist right-wing and anti-immigrant government in Hungary, which also recently moved to shut down gender studies in the country. The university’s decision to teach refugees, CEU president Michael Ignatieff has suggested, may have been a major factor in the hostility it has attracted.

The institution had been compelled to suspend OLIve, according to a spokesperson, “in response to Hungarian legislation in respect of refugees and immigration which came into effect on 24 August. CEU’s action follows advice from our tax advisers in respect of potential liability for a 25 per cent levy on our immigration-related programmes.”

The spokesperson stressed that the OLIve programmes had provided training only for “persons legally admitted to Hungary” and that the CEU was consulting lawyers with a view to finding ways “to continue this work in the future”.

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