Central European University
|Latin: Universitas Europae Centralis|
Central European University (CEU) is a graduate-level, English-language university accredited in the U.S. and Hungary and located in Budapest. The university offers degrees in the social sciences, law, public policy, business management, environmental science, and mathematics.
CEU has more than 1500 students from 100 countries and 300 faculty members from more than 30 countries. CEU was founded by philanthropist George Soros, who has provided an endowment of US$880 million, making the university one of the wealthiest in Europe. It is considered as one of the most prestigious universities in Central Europe for social sciences and humanities.
CEU has two schools, including the School of Public Policy and CEU Business School, 13 academic departments, and 17 research centers.
- 1 History
- 2 Legal basis
- 3 Controversy
- 4 Departments and programs
- 5 Student support
- 6 CEU Library and OSA
- 7 Rankings
- 8 Summer University
- 9 CEU Press
- 10 Notable faculty
- 11 Notable alumni
- 12 Residence Center
- 13 Notes
- 14 External links
CEU evolved from a series of lectures held at the IUC in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia). In the Spring of 1989, as historical change was gathering momentum in the region the need for a new, independent, international university was being considered. The minutes of the gathering held in April 1989 records a discussion among scholars such as Rudolf Andorka, Péter Hanák, Márton Tardos, István Teplán, Tibor Vámos and Miklós Vásárhelyi from Budapest, William Newton-Smith and Kathleen Wilkes from Oxford, Jan Havranek, Michal Illner and Jiří Kořalka from Prague, Krzysztof Michalski and Włodzimierz Siwiński from Warsaw.
The University was founded in 1991 in response to the fall of the Socialist Bloc. The founding vision was to create a university dedicated to examining the contemporary challenges of "open societies" and democratization. The initial aim was to create a Western-modeled yet distinctly Central European institution that would foster inter-regional cooperation and educate a new corps of regional leaders to help usher in democratic transitions across the region. It was originally located in Prague, but because of "political and financial conflict between its founder and [the] Czech government," represented by Vaclav Klaus, it was moved to Budapest.
In its second decade, CEU broadened its focus from regional to global, with a special emphasis on democracy promotion and human rights around the world. It has since developed a distinct academic approach, combining regional studies with an international perspective, emphasizing comparative and interdisciplinary research in order to generate new scholarship and policy initiatives, and to promote good governance and the rule of law. CEU has extended its outreach and financial aid programs to certain areas of the developing world.
CEU began the region's first master's degree programs in gender studies and environmental sciences. The CEU Center for Media, Data and Society is the leading center of research on media, communication, and information policy in the region.
On 14 October 2007 George Soros stepped down as Chairman of CEU Board. Leon Botstein (President of Bard College, New York), who had previously served as the Vice-Chair of the Board, was elected as new Chairman for a two-year term. George Soros is a Life-CEU Trustee and serves as Honorary Chairman of the Board.
On 1 August 2009 Rector Yehuda Elkana was succeeded by human rights leader and legal scholar John Shattuck. On May 5, 2016, it was announced that Michael Ignatieff would succeed Shattuck, becoming the fifth president and rector of the university.
CEU is organized as an American-style institution, governed by a Board of Trustees, with a charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, for and on behalf of the New York State Education Department. In the United States, CEU is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In Hungary, CEU is officially recognized as a privately maintained and operated university. The university was accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee in 2004.
Amendment to Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education in the Hungarian Parliament (2017)
The announcement and CEU's initial reactions
On 28 March 2017, Hungarian Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, also responsible for education, submitted a bill to Parliament to amend Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education. The bill aims to introduce new regulations for foreign-operating universities, several of which affect CEU. Notably, such universities could only operate if the Hungarian government has an agreement with the university's other country of operation (concerning CEU, the agreement is between the State of New York and the city of Budapest). In addition, universities operating outside of the European Union should have a campus in their other country of operation, where comparable degree programs would be offered (currently not the case for CEU). Furthermore, both existing and new non-EU academic staff would be required to apply for working permits. This requirement is seen by critics as placing CEU at a particular disadvantage, given that it relies largely on non-EU faculty. Finally, the law would also prohibit both the American and Hungarian entities from sharing the same name.
CEU issued a statement expressing its opposition to the bill, noting that "these amendments [to Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education] would make it impossible for the University to continue its operations as an institution of higher education in Budapest, CEU's home for 25 years", and that "CEU is in full conformity with Hungarian law."
The same day, the Hungarian news website Origo.hu, considered pro-government by The Budapest Beacon, published an article asserting that CEU, to which it referred as "Soros University" (George Soros being its founder and main benefactor, and also known an opponent of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party), operated unlawfully in Hungary, citing regulatory infractions. The article also referred to a report prepared by Hungary's Educational Authority, which revealed that 28 universities, including CEU, where being investigated for operating unlawfully in Hungary. CEU issued a statement in response to the article, claiming the allegations of cheating and regulatory infractions constitued defamations and libel, and threatened to sue the website if the article was not corrected.
On 29 March 2017, Michael Ignatieff, the President and Rector of CEU and Pro-Rector for Hungarian Affairs Zsolt Enyedi and Pro-Rector for Social Sciences and Humanities Éva Fodor held a press conference. Ignatieff said, among other things, that "the legislation tabled by the Hungarian government relating to higher education is targeted and discriminatory, attacks the CEU, and is an unacceptable assault on our academic freedom", and "the academic freedom of Hungarian higher education in general". Later, Ignatieff and Enyedi met Secretary of State for Education László Palkovics. CEU issued a statement thereafter, calling "for the government to withdraw this legislation and enter into negotiations to find a solution.”
On 31 March 2017, Viktor Orbán stated in an interview to public radio that the future of "Soros University" (referring to George Soros, founder and main benefactor of CEU) depended on US-Hungarian talks. He said that CEU was "cheating" by awarding both Hungarian and American degrees, despite not operating abroad. This was a breach of Hungarian regulations, which gave an unfair advantage to CEU. In response to those claims, CEU issued a statement rejecting the suggestion that it was cheating and in breach of Hungarian regulations. Indeed, according to CEU, no laws in effect required universities such as CEU to also operate in their countries of origin.
Expressions of support for CEU
On the same day, the United States government released a statement expressing concern about the proposed legislation, which would "negatively affect or even lead to the closure of Central European University (CEU) in Budapest", and urging the Hungarian government not to take "any legislative action that would compromise CEU's operations or independence."
Hungary's ombudsman for educational rights Lajos Aary-Tamas called the amendment to the Higher Education Law "discriminatory against CEU", and said that during his 17 years in office he had never received any complaint about CEU's legal status. Hungarian EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Tibor Navracsics, and former President of Hungary László Sólyom also expressed support.
Academics and academic institutions from Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Romania, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries have expressed support for CEU. CEU itself has started a campaign of support, with the slogans #aCEUvalvagyok in Hungarian and #IstandwithCEU in English. The campaign uses social media to call on supporters to express their solidarity to CEU and write to Hungarian representatives.
On 2 April 2017, a protest was held in the form of a walk from Budapest's Corvinus University to Parliament, passing by Eötvös Loránd University and CEU. The demonstration brought together thousands of protesters according to Reuters, with protest speeches held by both CEU and foreign academics and activists, and was broadcast live on Facebook by Hír TV.
In the wake of the new Hungarian legislation, the Czech minister of Finance Andrej Babiš proposed the CEU be move to Prague, Czech Republic, offering particular buildings in the centre of the city that the university might use.
Legal action by CEU and acceleration of the legislative procedure
On 3 April 2017, CEU submitted a legal memorandum to the Hungarian Parliament, raising substantial issues about the legality and constitutionality of the proposed amendment to Act CCIV of 2011 on national higher education, and pledged to continue to contest this law using all available legal means in Hungary and in the EU.
On the same day, the Hungarian parliament decide to debate and vote on the draft bill the following day, after a request by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, also head of the Christian Democrats, the junior party in the government coalition. Semjén said his request was justified by "government interests to pass the law early."
Commentators have interpreted the proposed bill as the continuation of Orbán's government campaign against liberalism and foreign-funded NGOs. Indeed, Orbán has stated that he wants Hungary to abandon liberal democracy and become an "illiberal state". This has resulted in the declaration by vice chairman of Fidesz Szilard Nemeth that civil society groups with funding from Soros should be "swept out" of Hungary. Among other things, Soros' Open Society Foundations in Hungary have supported Roma populations, pushed for the protection of gay rights, and helped asylum seekers seek legal help. Soros has also funded corruption watchdog Transparency International and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. Orbán has repeatedly criticized Soros in strong terms for trying to influence Hungarian politics, accusing him, for instance, of stoking a refugee wave to weaken Europe. Critics of Orbán note that he himself owes his career in part to Soros' support: he received a scholarship from the Soros Foundation to study political science at Pembroke College, Oxford, and other prominent members of his party (Fidesz) have been financially supported by Soros.
Pro-government business weekly Figyelő wrote in February 2017, almost two months before the proposed legal bill, that CEU might soon be targeted by the government. According to Figyelő, Orbán met secretly with Soros in the summer of 2016, promising him that the government would not take steps to interfere with the university’s operations. However, major changes in the global political landscape might have made the government willing to risk such an attack on the university, an attack it may not have dared prior to the election of US President Donald Trump. Later, the spokesman for George Soros, Michael Vachon denied that such a meeting between Mr Soros and Mr Orbán ever took place. 
Departments and programs
- Business School
- Cognitive Science
- Environmental Sciences and Policy
- Gender Studies
- International Relations
- Legal Studies
- Mathematics and its Applications
- Medieval Studies
- Nationalism Studies
- Political Science
- School of Public Policy
- Sociology and Social Anthropology
One-year master’s degree programs
- MA programs: Central European History; Economic and Legal Studies; Gender Studies; Human Rights; International Relations; Medieval Studies; Nationalism Studies; Philosophy; Political Science; Public Policy; Sociology and Social Anthropology
- MS program: Environmental Sciences and Policy
- LLM programs: Comparative Constitutional Law; Economic and Legal Studies; Human Rights; International Business Law
- Business programs: Full-Time Master's of Business Administration (MBA); Part-Time Executive MBA (22-month weekend program); IMM Global Executive MBA (20-month modular program)
• MSc Program: IT Management (Business School )
Two-year master’s degree programs
- MA programs: critical gender studies; economic policy in global markets; environmental sciences, policy and management (MESPOM, Erasmus Mundus); economics; historical studies; philosophy; political science; public policy (Erasmus Mundus program), sociology and social anthropology; women's and gender studies (GEMMA, Erasmus Mundus); women's and gender history (MATILDA, Erasmus program)
- MSc program: applied mathematics
- MPA program: public policy
- Business programs: Executive MBA (International Master's in Management)
- PhD in: cognitive science; comparative gender studies; comparative history of central, southeastern and eastern Europe; economics; environmental sciences and policy; mathematics and its applications; medieval studies; philosophy; political science; sociology and social anthropology; network science
- Doctor of Juridical Sciences (SJD)
CEU offers a wide range of financial aid packages to the majority of its students. CEU rewards financial aid primarily on the basis of academic merit. Decisions on aid may take into account priorities connected to the university mission as well as documented financial need.
In addition to its financial aid, CEU rewards academic excellence of its current students through various research grants and achievement awards. Additionally, different schools or departments within the University offer scholarship schemes suitable for their candidates.
CEU Library and OSA
The CEU Library has a comprehensive on-site and digital collections in the social sciences and humanities. The library contains more than 255,000 documents in various formats and includes access to a range of academic databases.
The Open Society Archives at CEU (OSA) is a Cold War research facility, holding over 7,500 linear meters of material, 11,000 hours of audiovisual recordings and 12 terabytes of data related to communist-era political, social, economic and cultural life. OSA’s collection includes an extensive archive of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty transcripts and reports, along with a large collection of underground samizdat literature and materials from Central and Eastern Europe under communism. The archive also houses a growing collection of documents and audiovisual materials on international human rights and war crimes.
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 placed CEU among the world's top 100 universities in the social sciences category.
All programs of Central European University are highly competitive. The university is placed 29th worldwide in the field of politics and international studies, and among the top 51-100 worldwide in philosophy by the 2015 QS World University Rankings. The University also ranks among the top 51-100 worldwide on the 2015 QS Subject Rankings for sociology. It also places for history (101-150), economics (151-200) and legal studies (151-200). Additionally, despite its small size and young programs (fewer than a hundred students), the Economics department of the university has recently ranked eighth in Europe by the ERC (European Research Council), based on research excellence.
The CEU Business School offers the thirteenth best MBA program in Europe, according to the QS TOPMBA survey 2012. In this survey, CEU Business School is consistently placed among the twenty best business schools in Europe.
CEU's Department of Legal Studies was ranked first in Central Europe by the Czech newspaper, Lidové noviny. The survey included Austrian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak universities.
A recent report prepared by the Magyar Rektori Konferencia stated that CEU faculty has the highest number of international publications per capita (recorded in the Web of Science) among Hungarian universities. The same applies to the amount research support grants received in the framework of EU’s Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. In the recent round of the European Research Council Starting Investigator Grant – the most prestigious grant for young researchers in Europe – Central-East European countries received a total of eight grants. Of the three that came to Hungary (the highest number of among C/EE countries), two were awarded to CEU faculty.
Central European University is not present in general world university rankings, for it is only a postgraduate institution and lacks undergraduate programs of study.
CEU’s Summer University is an academic program for young scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Since 1996, CEU’s Summer University has involved 269 Hungarian faculty members and 516 Hungarian participants. Tuition was waived for all but 3% of the Hungarian participants, most of whom were junior academics (graduate students, faculty, and researchers) who received guidance on their research, ideas for developing their own courses, exposure to a variety of teaching methodologies, and access to international and academic and professional networks.
CEU Press is the largest English-language publisher in Central and Eastern Europe. Since its founding in 1993, it has played an important role in publishing books on the economic, social, and political transformation of the region, including titles by Hungarians or on Hungarian themes. Four of its top-10 best-selling books worldwide are related to Hungary.
- Shlomo Avineri, Political Science
- Aziz Al-Azmeh, Oriental Studies
- Albert-László Barabási, Network theory
- Aharon Barak, Law, Former President of the Supreme Court of Israel
- Gareth Evans (politician), School of Public Policy
- Péter Balázs, International Relations, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary
- Lajos Bokros, Public Policy, former Minister of Finance of Hungary
- András Bozóki, Political Science, former Minister of Culture of Hungary
- Cole Durham, Law
- Yehuda Elkana, History of Science
- Allen Feldman, Cultural Anthropology
- Patrick J. Geary, History
- Ernest Gellner, Philosophy and Social Anthropology
- Herbert Gintis, Economics
- Gabriel Gorodetsky, Russian Studies
- Elemér Hankiss, Sociology
- Donald L. Horowitz, Law and Political Science
- Zoltán Illés, Department of Environmental sciences and Policy, Environmental State Secretary in the government of Viktor Orbán
- Don Kalb, Sociology and Social Anthropology
- János Kis, Political Philosophy
- János Kornai, Economics
- Friedrich Kratochwil, (visiting faculty 2012) International Law International Relations
- Will Kymlicka, Political Theory
- Michael Lissack, (visiting faculty) Business Administration, Public Policy
- Anton Pelinka, Political Science
- Istvan Perczel, Medieval Studies
- Steven Plaut, Economics, Political Science and International Relations
- Howard Robinson, Philosophy
- Jacek Rostowski, Economy, Minister of Finance of Poland
- Michael Roes, Philosophy and Anthropology
- Tibor Várady, Law
- Susanne Baer (visiting professor), on 11 November 2010 elected to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
- Ugo Pagano, Economics
- Anna Brzezińska, Polish author
- Ruxandra Cesereanu, Romanian poet, essayist, short story writer, novelist and literary critic
- Srđan Cvijić, Serbian political scientist
- Darko Angelov, Macedonian Diplomat, Ambassador to Hungary
- Dušan Pavlović, Serbian political economist and politician
- József Berényi, Chairman of the Party of the Hungarian Coalition
- Lívia Járóka, Hungarian Romani politician, Member of the European Parliament
- Romaniţa Iordache, Romanian Human rights activist
- Jasna Koteska, Macedonian author and psychoanalyst
- Monica Macovei, Minister of Justice of Romania
- Sorin Ionita, Research Director of the Romanian Academic Society
- Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia
- Andrei Oişteanu, Romanian historian and ethnologist
- Mailis Reps, former Estonian Minister of Education and Research
- Tivadar Magyari, Vice-Rector, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
- Ilgar Mammadov, political activist in Azerbaijan, blogger
- Rashadat Akhundov, political activist in Azerbaijan
- Igor Fedyukin, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Russia
- Dylan Mohan Gray, award-winning filmmaker
- Federigo Argentieri, political science professor
- Ilir Dugoolli, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to Norway
Modern accommodation facilities available at CEU Residence Center are one of the many advantages of studying at CEU. The Residence Center features comfortable, furnished, air-conditioned, non-smoking single rooms for approximately 400 graduate students. Each room has a private bathroom. Rooms are furnished with bed, desk and chair, wardrobe, bookshelves. Free internet connections are available in the rooms through LAN cable. The residence center housing is automatically offered to CEU top students.
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