Budapest debut marks return of German study

July 5, 2002

The first German-language university in central Europe for 57 years is to open in Budapest in the autumn. The region has lacked such an institution since the German half of Prague's Charles University was closed in 1945.

The Andrássy Gyula Deutschsprachige Universität runs counter to a worldwide trend of increased English use in higher education.

Named for Gyula Andrássy, an Austro-Hungarian diplomat who promoted the idea of central European cooperation, the university is being funded by the Hungarian government, with help from Europe's German-speaking countries and regions.

It will offer American-style masters degrees in international relations, central European studies and comparative law. Knowledge of a second language - English, French or Spanish - will be required.

Erich Kussbach, the university's vice-rector, said that the idea was to create "young academics fit for Europe". He emphasised the importance of German to Europe, especially to central Europe. "It is fair to say that after English, German will remain the second-most important foreign language in the region," he said.

Both the German Foreign Office and the German Academic Exchange Programme (DAAD) have reportedly pledged their support. Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg have each promised to give €250,000 (£162,000) over the next five years. A Bavarian firm has promised €100,000-€150,000 for books and Austria has also promised to help. Professor Kussbach said that the university was also in discussion with the Swiss University of St Gallen.

The university has space for some 75 students in its first year. About half will be Hungarian, while the other half will come from throughout the region.

While it is unique to the region, Andr ssy is far from the only new German university. An Egyptian-German university is under construction and a German-Syrian university is being planned.

Budapest is already home to the Central European University, the English-language institution that was founded by financier George Soros.

But Professor Kussbach said he did not view the CEU as competition. Istvan Teplan, CEU's executive vice-president, said that the university would look to Andr ssy as a partner school.

But he also added that he expected English-language instruction to remain a big draw: "If you look at the younger generations, I think most are interested in English."

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