Tag Archives: Hungary

Facts on CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY, Hungary

August 3rd, 2018

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The Central European University in Budapest has been the subject of an intense battle in Hungary. CreditDaniel Vegel/Central European University

The Central European University (CEU) has been at cross hairs with the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since last year, when Hungary passed a law that imposes stringent conditions to license foreign universities.

The new law requires CEU to open a branch in its “home state” of New York alongside its campus in Budapest. It also requires CEU to secure a bilateral agreement of support from the U.S. government.

The law was met with criticism from universities around the world, the United States and the executive arm of the European Union. Mass protests filled the streets of Budapest, the Hungarian capital. Critics said the law was aimed at CEU and specifically at its founder, the Hungarian-born George Soros who has spent millions backing organizations that promote liberal democracy and open borders in Europe.

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A 2017 protest rally to support Central European University as Viktor Orbán visited Tbilisi, Georgia. Photograph Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA

CEU prides itself on the diversity of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures examining such subjects as emerging democracies, transitional economies, media freedom, nationalism, human rights, and the rule of law. The University is often seen as a bastion of liberalism, where thousands of students from across central Europe and the former Soviet Union have a received education in English over the past two decades.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a Fidesz party rally in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on April 6, 2018. LASZLO BALOGH/GETTY IMAGES

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Mr. George Soros. Source: CEU website

Mr. Orbán, who himself was among the recipients of scholarships from foundations sponsored by the financier George Soros during the transition to democracy, now holds a very strong anti-immigration position and has accused Mr. Soros “of plotting to destabilize the continent by allowing millions of migrants to settle in Europe.” Source: The New York Times.

Mr. Orbán has championed the concept of “illiberal democracy” as part of his political platform. After winning re-election, declared: “The age of liberal democracy is over.”

In early May, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) – an international grant-making network also founded by Mr. Soros – announced it would close the Budapest office from which it has disbursed more than €400-million ($605-million) for democratic and civil initiatives over 34 years. Source: The Globe and Mail

Let us take a look at the origins of CEU and an overview of its programs:

History of CEU and its founder, George Soros

According to the information provided by the University’s website, “in 1989, a group of visionary intellectuals—most of them prominent members of the anti-totalitarian democratic opposition—conceptualized an international university that would help facilitate the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Among them was George Soros, the Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist, who founded Central European University two years later.” The generous endowment given to CEU by Mr. Soros today stands at 500 million euros, or about $610 million making it one of the most successful and revered centers for social sciences in Hungary and eastern Europe.

The CEU website continues, “Soros championed the project because he understood that open societies can flourish only with people in positions of responsibility who are educated to promote them. His vision was to recruit professors and students from around the world to build a unique institution, one that would train future generations of scholars, professionals, politicians, and civil society leaders to contribute to building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and adhere to the rule of law.”

In 1991, starting with a little over than 100 students from 20 countries, CEI held its first classes in Prague. In 1993, the University relocated to Budapest.

CEU’s Accreditation

In the United States, CEU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In Hungary, CEU is officially recognized as a privately maintained and operated university. The university was accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee in 2004.

CEU’s Membership

CEU is an active member of the European University Association and of the Council of Graduate Schools in the US.

CEU Schools and Departments

CEU has 13 departments, two schools, and 17 research centers that focus on the social sciences, humanities, business, law, and public policy.

Central European University is a graduate-level university offering a wide range of degree programs at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. It has 370 faculty and approximately 1,400 students from more than 130 countries.

For a list of degree programs offered at CEU that are accredited by the Hungarian Accreditation Committee and registered by the Educational Authority, click here.

CEU’s Worldwide Rankings

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 placed CEU among the world’s top 100 universities in the social sciences category.

According to the 2015 QS World University Rankings, the university is placed 29th worldwide in the field of politics and international studies, among the top 51-100 worldwide in philosophy, and among the top 51-100 worldwide for sociology.

The Economics department of the university has recently ranked eighth in Europe by the ERC (European Research Council), based on research excellence.

On the 2012 QS TOPMBA survey, the CEU Business School is ranked thirteenth as best MBA program in Europe.

And, according to a study published by German newspaper Die Zeit, the CEU Department of Political Science is among the top 5 political science departments in Europe.

English as the Medium of Instruction

The language of instruction for all master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs offered by Central European University is English. Candidates whose first language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting standardized English language test scores.

Latest News on CEU’s Status

On April 9, 2018, CEU announced  that it had signed an agreement with the City of Vienna to open a new satellite campus there.

CEU has since set up a U.S. site at Bard College in New York State. A Hungarian delegation inspected the New York campus in March 2018.

CEU is still waiting for its agreement with New York to be signed by the Hungarian government, prolonging a period of uncertainty over the Budapest operation.

If CEU is pushed out of Budapest, the university could move to neighboring Austria and make Vienna its new home.

As of the posting of this blog, CEU students and staff are unsure of what the future holds. The university’s fate remains up in the air.

Links to additional sources:

https://courses.ceu.edu/programs

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39493758

https://www.bbc.com/news/education-43300785

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-michael-ignatieff-fights-for-central-european-universitys-future-amid/

https://sciencebusiness.net/news/central-european-university-talks-open-campus-vienna

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/central-european-university-ready-to-move-out-of-hungary

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Why is Central European University under attack by the Hungarian government?

April 14th, 2017

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Demonstrators at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest protesting legislation that would force the closure of Central European University, April 9, 2017. (Photo Credit: The Nation – MTI via AP/Jano Marja)

If you haven’t heard already, on Tuesday, April 4 2017, the Hungarian National Assembly fast-tracked and passed an amendment to a higher education bill that threatens the closing of the Central European University (CEU), a leading university in Europe. According to a report in The New York Times: “The new law requires, among other things, that foreign-accredited universities provide higher education services in their own countries — meaning the United States in the case of Central European University.” CEU has until January 1, 2018 to comply with these new requirements.

CEU, located in Budapest, is accredited in the United States and Hungary and offers degrees in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy, business management, environmental sciences, and mathematics. CEU attracts students from over 100 countries from around the globe and is revered for its programs in social sciences and humanities.  According to The Times Higher Education, CEU was founded in 1991 as an English-language university by “a group of visionary intellectuals – most of them prominent members of the anti-totalitarian democratic opposition.”

Members of the European Commission of EU’s executive body are investigating this new law imposed by the Hungarian government and questioning is legality. There have also been massive student protests in Hungary who see the government’s heavy handedness as a clampdown on free expression and in retaliation against Mr. George Soros, a financier who sits on CEU’s board. Mr. Soros, according to some observers is seen as an influential global threat by Hungary’s conservative nationalist government.  Even the U.S. has expressed concern and criticized the Hungarian government’s higher education bill and its impact on CEU.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is unmoved by the criticism and the protests. Mr. Orban’s party is convinced that George Soros is behind the shaping of CEU’s institutional philosophy of inclusion which encourages migration while the Hungarian government opposes it vehemently. Mr. Orban wants to stop migration while he sees Mr. Soros as an advocate of migration who will use money and his political capital to weaken and destabilize governments, such as Hungary, who oppose his philosophy. Mr. Orban has coined the term “Illiberal democracy” by turning liberals into the enemy and arguing that majority rule is more important than minority rights.

With such deeply rooted dislike for liberalism, George Soros, and migration which translates into international students, the future of the Central European University in Hungary looks rather bleak.

Sources:

https://www.oneyoungworld.com/blog/trouble-hungary-central-european-university

https://www.google.com/?trackid=sp-006#q=Central+European+University

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/central-european-university#ranking-dataset/1089

https://www.thenation.com/article/central-european-university-under/

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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25 Interesting Facts About Hungary

May 15th, 2014

Several years ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Budapest to attend the EAIE Conference. The Soviet Union had recently collapsed and its satellite states and neighboring countries, such as Hungary, had abandoned their socialist regimes and embracing democracy and western European trends. Hungary was one of the first communist-era countries to oppose the Soviet regime during the Cold War, notably with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In 1989, Hungary was the first communist-block country to open its borders with Western Europe.

Budapest, from what I’ve been told by relatives living in Vienna, was always a fun destination to visit for a weekend even during its communist period. Many Austrians would travel to Budapest for day trips to visit its farmer’s markets, shop, and dine at its restaurants and cafes where prices were low and quality exceptional. I was staying, along with several other EAIE conference attendees, at the famous Hotel Gellért across the Danube, known for its spa and hot springs.

Here are a few interesting facts about this old country with a very rich history:

1. Hungary is a land-locked country in Central Europe sharing its borders with Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The population of Hungary is 9,919,128.

2. Its capital city is Budapest with a population of 1.709 million (2011).
hungary

3. Hungary was once part of the Celtic world, then the Roman Empire. Following the fall of Rome, the Huns settled in the plains of Pannonia and gave their name to Hungary.

4. Founded in 897, Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe (before France and Germany became separate entities, and before the unification of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.)

5. Around 1000 CE, the Kingdom of Hungary was one of the largest states in Europe, bigger than France. Later, it became one of the two “eagle heads” of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

6. Hungarian language is known as Magyar and is the direct descendent of the language spoken by the Huns. It is not an Indo-European language and has only two related languages in Europe (Finnish and Estonian).

7. Around two-thirds of the Hungarian people are Roman Catholic, about a quarter are Calvinist. The rest of the population is either belongs to the Lutheran, Jewish, Greek Orthodox.

8. The country fell under communist rule following World War II.

9. The 1986 Hungarian Grand Prix was the first Formula One race to take place behind the Iron Curtain.

10. Communism in Hungary ended 1989 and the country became a parliamentary republic. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU five years later.

11. Inventions by Hungarians in Hungary include the noiseless match (by János Irinyi), Rubik’s cube (by Erno Rubik), and the krypton electric bulb (Imre Bródy).
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Erno Rubik

12. Remember, earlier I’d mentioned the spa and the hot springs at the Hotel Gellért? Hungary has one of the most important thermal spring cultures in Europe. The country boasts no less than 1,500 spas, typically featuring Roman, Greek and Turkish architecture.
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Gellért Hotel

Gellertspa
Spa at the Hotel Gellért

13. Hungary has a long tradition of classical music with famous composers like Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Franz Liszt.

14. As of 2007, 13 Hungarians had received a Nobel Prize (this is more than Japan, China, India, Australia or Spain) in every category except peace.

15. Spends 4.9% of GDP (2010) on Education.

16. Literacy of total population is 99%.

17. Hungarians won gold medals at every summer Olympics except Antwerp 1920 and Los Angeles 1984 when they did not compete.

18. According to 2013 OECD figures: “As in other Eastern European countries, upper secondary attainment in Hungary is traditionally high (82% for 25-64-year-olds, compared with an OECD average of 75%). This applies across all age groups: 87% of 25-34 year-olds and 75% of 55-64 year-olds hold an upper secondary qualification against an OECD average of 82% and 64%, respectively.

19. Hungary has, together with Sweden and the US, the lowest completion rate at tertiary level among OECD countries: in 2011, only 53% of students graduated from the program they entered, in comparison with the OECD average of 68%.

20. Basic education lasts for eight years divided into two stages of four years each. Secondary education is provided in academic secondary schools (gimnázium) or vocational secondary schools (szakközépiskola).

21. Hungarian higher education has a dual system with colleges and universities. Some colleges are associated with universities and operate as college faculties within universities. A university can also offer college level courses. The duration of training at college level is minimum 3 years, maximum 4 years; the duration of education at university level is minimum 4 years, maximum 5 years (with the exception of medical universities where it is 6 years). According to the binary pattern, colleges and universities grant Főiskolai Oklevél (College-level Degree) and universities grant Egyetemi Oklevél (University-level Degree). Universities organize three-year PhD courses, specialized further education courses (with a normal duration of one to three years) and various continuous education courses.

22. The University of Pécs, the oldest university of Hungary, was founded in 1367.
PecsUniversity
University of Pécs

23. Hungary is also reputed to host cultural events like Sziget Festival or Budapest Spring Festival. The Sziget Festival is the Hungarian for “Island” and is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on Óbudai-sziget (“Old Buda Island”), a leafy 108-hectare (266-acre) island on the Danube. The Budapest Spring Festival is one of the country’s oldest festivals and takes place each year in March and attract artists and musicians from around the world.
Sziget
Sziget Festival, Budapest

Budapest Spring Festival
Budapest Spring Festival

24. Did you know there are cowboys in Hungary? I was happily surprised to be taken to a ranch where cowboys, or csikos as they are called in the region showed off their prowess on horseback. Horsemanship in Hungary has a long history, going back to the Magyars, the first Hungarians. They rode from central Asia to settle in present day Hungary. The tradition is best seen on the Great Plain (Puszta), a vast flat plain reminiscent of the American Old West. 
Hungarian_horse

25. And no post on Hungary is complete, without mention of its famously delicious and flavorful Gulyásleves (gulyás is herdsman, leves is soup in Hungarian); a Hungarian soup, made of beef, vegetables, ground paprika and other spices. It originates from a dish cooked by the cattlemen (gulyás also means herdsman) who tended their herds in the Great Hungarian Plain, known as the Alföld or Puszta in Hungarian. Egészségedre (enjoy)!
soup

Sources:
http://www.ymtvacations.com/travel-blog/hungarian-cowboys-a-rich-cultural-traditions
http://eugo.gov.hu/key-facts-about-hungary/history
http://www.oecd.org/edu/Hungary_EAG2013%20Country%20Note.pdf
http://www.nefmi.gov.hu/letolt/english/education_in_hungary_080805.pdf
http://www.euroeducation.net/prof/hungarco.htm

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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