On April 4th, the Hungarian Parliament passed the controversial amendment to the Hungarian Law on Higher Education. Its main target is clearly the Central European University (CEU), founded in 1991 by the billionaire and philanthropist George Soros. If the law were to come into effect, the CEU would not be permitted to accept any new students from January 2018 onwards. At present, more than 1,400 students from around 100 countries attend the CEU.
In an open letter to Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Leibniz President Matthias Kleiner expresses his concern for the German-Hungarian scientific relations.
Dear Prime Minister Orbán,
dear Minister Balog,
The recently proposed amendments to the Hungarian Law on Higher Education are subject of grave concern to the Leibniz Association and its respective research institutions, particularly with regard to the future of Hungarian-German scientific and academic relations. One of Germany's foremost research institutions, the Leibniz Association with its 91 member institutes maintains a network of multi-directional substantial ties with partner institutions in neighbouring Eastern Europe, which is reflected particularly in the Leibniz research cluster „Eastern Europe“, a group of hitherto 24 members, among them two institutes with a central research focus on Hungary.
The Central European University is a highly respected and profoundly valuable partner for those Leibniz Institutes, such as our renowned Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies in Regensburg, the Herder Institute for Historical Research on Eastern Europe - Institute of the Leibniz Association in Marburg, The Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe in Leipzig as well as the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, all of which are engaged in a regular and close exchange with the representative Hungarian institutions and centres of higher education in Germany such as the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena.
Thanks to its outstanding reputation, the Central European University is one of the vital contact points for academic initiatives based in or focused on Hungary. However, the prospective amendment would endanger the continued existence of this highly reputable institution, thereby jeopardizing this integral component of the Hungarian-German scientific collaboration.
Thus, respectfully, I urge you to reconsider the terms of the proposed legislation with a view to its effects on the prospective positioning of Hungarian sciences in the European context — not least to avert lasting damage from the academic relations between Hungary and Germany which are so essential for the Leibniz Association and in my own personal view — and, instead, to foster the existing ties and productive collaboration between our two scientific communities.
President Leibniz Association
Tel.: +49 30 / 20 60 49 – 42
Mobil: +49 172 / 8433549
Christoph Herbort-von Loeper
Tel.: +49 30 / 20 60 49 - 48
Mobil: +49 174 / 310 81 74