Canadians should be concerned democracy is under threat in Hungary: Ignatieff

Students gather in front of Central European University in Budapest

Students gather in front of Central European University in Budapest

"The departure of these US -accredited programs from Hungary will be a loss for the CEU community, for the United States, and for Hungary", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Ignatieff said fears for CEU's future in Hungary emerged past year during Orban's re-election campaign in which the four-time prime minister frequently levied attacks at the Hungarian-born Soros.

One new rule, for instance, required CEU to prove it had a campus in place in the U.S. Ignatieff said the school established educational programs with New York's Bard College to comply with the rule. Study at accredited USA programs will begin next year. In the statement, Ignatieff called the forced removal "a flagrant violation of academic freedom", adding, "It is a dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary".

"The departure of these US-accredited programmes from Hungary will be a loss for the CEU community, for the United States, and for Hungary", Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the State Department, said in a statement.

Orban's critics say the legal changes deliberately targeted CEU, which is reguarly ranked as the top university in Hungary.

According to the Post, Orban has accused Soros of encouraging immigration into Europe, which Soros has denied, according to Reuters.

Earlier this year, Open Society Foundations, Soros' main funding network, was also forced to leave Hungary.

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The university said it would retain "accreditation as a Hungarian university and. continue teaching and research activity in Budapest as long as possible".

The move is widely seen as part of a wider campaign waged by Budapest in recent years against Soros, 88, who Orban says is orchestrating migration flows.

The CEU has been locked in a legal battle with PM Viktor Orban's anti-immigrant government for months, with its status up in the air following the implementation of a higher-education law which stipulates that a foreign university can only operate in Hungary if it offers courses in its home country as well.

The CEU, however, plans to keep its Budapest campus and those students who have already enrolled there will be able to complete their studies.

University officials said they jumped through the required hoops, opening a satellite campus in NY and signing an global agreement - but Hungary never finalized the deal it negotiated.

Hungarians comprise about 20 percent of the 1,320 students admitted to CEU for the 2018 to 2019 academic year.

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