Rektor på Universitet i Oslo, skriver at den akademiske frihet er under angrep i Ungarn. Foto: Skjalg Bøhmer Vold
Rektor på Universitet i Oslo, skriver at den akademiske frihet er under angrep i Ungarn. Foto: Skjalg Bøhmer Vold

Ungarsk toppuniversitet trues av ny lov 

Et høyprofilert universitet i Ungarn trues av ny lov. Lovutkastet skal diskuteres mandag 3. april og er et angrep på akademisk frihet, skriver rektor ved Universitetet i Oslo, Ole Petter Ottersen (also in english).

Publisert   Sist oppdatert

(In the bottom you will find an english version of this article.)

The Central European University (CEU) i Budapest ble grunnlagt i 1991 for å støtte regionen i overgangen fra kommunistdiktatur til demokrati. På kort tid har CEU utviklet seg til et høyprofilert universitet som har fått innflytelse langt utover Ungarns grenser. Men nå foreligger det et forslag til en ny lov som – hvis vedtatt  - kan medføre at universitetet kastes ut av landet. Det nye lovutkastet er et angrep på akademisk frihet.  

(Foto: ceu)

Så vidt jeg forstår, skal lovutkastet diskuteres allerede mandag denne uken og en avstemning kan skje snart deretter. Myndighetene bør få klar beskjed om at denne loven bryter med de prinsippene som har ligget til grunn for det europeiske samarbeidet over de siste tiårene. Universiteter må ikke ses på som del av en  ubehagelig opposisjon, men som arnesteder for de kritiske røstene som må få komme til orde for at institusjoner og stat skal kunne holde nødvendig kvalitet og integritet. Å angripe universiteter og høyere utdanning er å rive teppet vekk under nasjonens og regionens fremtid.

Men nå foreligger det et forslag til en ny lov som – hvis vedtatt  - kan medføre at universitetet kastes ut av landet. 

Ole Petter Ottersen
Rektor, UiO

Myndighetene hevder at CEUs aktiviteter i Ungarn er ulovlig. Ifølge The Guardian  hevdes det  samme for 27 andre universiteter med tilknytning til utlandet, inklusive Edinburgh Napier, CECOS London College, Anglia Ruskin University og Universities of Middlesex, Buckingham, Hertfordshire, and Newport in Wales. Nå foreslås det altså at lovverket skjerpes.

Situasjonen som er oppstått, beskrives godt på CEUs hjemmeside:

«Central European University (CEU) expresses its opposition to proposed amendments to Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education, tabled in Hungarian Parliament today. After careful legal study, CEU has concluded that these amendments 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. CEU is in full conformity with Hungarian law. The proposed legislation targets CEU directly and is therefore discriminatory and unacceptable. CEU calls on the government to scrap the legislation and enter into dialogue to find a solution that allows CEU to continue in Budapest as a free and independent international graduate university.»

På hjemmesiden  finner  vi også et sitat av CEUs rektor Michael Ignatieff: «Any legislative change that would force CEU to cease operation in Budapest would damage Hungarian academic life and negatively impact the government of Hungary’s relations with its neighbors, its EU partners and with the United States.»

Det som nå skjer i Ungarn, er dessverre ikke unikt. Myndighetene i Russland har nylig inndratt lisensen for the European University in St Petersburg. Og situasjonen i Tyrkia fortsetter å bekymre. I mange land er akademisk frihet under angrep. I alle land må vi nå la våre stemmer høres til forsvar for denne friheten som er så avgjørende for tillit og samarbeid over landegrensene og for utviklingen av et liberalt Europa.

(According to a newsmessage CEUs hompage media in Hungary reports, as many as 10,000 people gathered to march peacefully to support academic freedom sunday 2. april from Fovam ter, home of Corvinus University, past Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), to CEU on Nador utca and to Kossuth ter in front of Parliament. Photo: CEU

Hungarian university threatened by new law

The Central European University (CEU) in Budapest was founded in 1991 to support the transition from communist dictatorship to democracy, not only in Hungary but in the region at large. The CEU quickly developed into a high-profile university that enjoys influence far beyond Hungary’s borders. But now there is a proposal for a new law that - if approved - may cause the university to be thrown out of the country. The new draft law is an attack on academic freedom.

As far as I understand, the law will be discussed already on Monday this week and a decision will probably be made soon thereafter. The Hungarian authorities should be told that this law violates the principles that have been the basis for European co-operation over the past decades. Universities must not be seen as part of an unwelcome opposition, but as hotbeds for the critical voices that are required to maintain the quality and integrity of institutions and state. To attack universities and higher education is to pull the rug from under the nation’s and the region’s future.

The Hungarian authorities claim that CEU’s activities in Hungary are illegal. According to The Guardian the same claim is made for 27 other universities with ties to other countries, including Edinburgh Napier, CECO London College, Anglia Ruskin University and universities of Middlesex, Buckingham, Hertfordshire, and Newport in Wales.

The situation that has arisen is well described on CEU’s website:

Central European University (CEU) expresses its opposition to proposed amendments to Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education, tabled in Hungarian Parliament today. After careful legal study, CEU has concluded that these amendments 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. CEU is in full conformity with Hungarian law. The proposed legislation targets CEU directly and is therefore discriminatory and unacceptable. CEU calls on the government to scrap the legislation and enter into dialogue to find a solution that allows CEU to continue in Budapest as a free and independent international graduate university.

On the CEU home page, we also find a quote of CEU’s principal Michael Ignatieff:

«Any legislative change that would force CEU to cease operation in Budapest would damage Hungarian academic life and negatively impact the government of Hungary’s relations with its neighbors, its EU partners and with the United States.»

Sadly, what is happening in Hungary is not unique. Russian authorities recently revoked the license of the European University in St Petersburg. And the situation in Turkey continues to worry. In many countries, academic freedom is under attack. In all countries - including our own - we must let our voices be heard in defense of this freedom that is so vital for trust and cooperation across borders and for the further development of Europe.