Threatened Central European University to open Vienna campus

New outpost does not undermine commitment to remain in Budapest, institution insists

March 14, 2018
Vienna skyline

The Central European University is in talks to open a branch campus in Vienna amid continuing uncertainty over its future in Budapest.

Since March last year, the university’s future in Hungary has been imperilled by government legislation, which academics see as a politically motivated attack on its liberal democratic mission. The law imposed a range of restrictions on overseas universities operating in Hungary, including the need to maintain a campus in their home country.

In October, the CEU signed a memorandum of understanding with Bard College that would see the CEU deliver “educational activities” in New York, creating what the university called “the basis for an agreement” with Viktor Orbán’s government.

However, the Hungarian government is yet to sign up to the agreement, having extended the deadline for compliance with the new law until 2019.

In its latest announcement, the CEU insists that it is committed to staying in Budapest but reveals that it is in negotiations to open a campus in the Austrian capital.

Michael Ignatieff, CEU’s president, said that establishing an outpost in Vienna “will give CEU’s faculty and students exciting new opportunities”.

But he added: “Even as we develop a CEU Vienna, Budapest will remain our home base. We are committed to resolving our long-term future in Budapest.”

The memorandum of understanding with the city of Vienna would commit the CEU to a 99-year lease, “making for a long-term commitment to the city”, according a statement from the university.

“As the largest German-speaking university city, close to CEU’s home base in Budapest, Vienna offers ideal conditions for a new site”, it said.

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