Central European University (CEU) and the City of Vienna have confirmed that they are negotiating a deal that would enable CEU to open a satellite campus site in Vienna, complementing its home campus in Budapest and its American site at Bard College in New York State. As the largest German-speaking university city close to CEU’s home base in Budapest, Vienna offers ideal conditions for a new site. The Otto Wagner area of the Austrian capital is a potential location. The deal could see CEU and Vienna conclude a 99-year lease, making for a long-term commitment to the city.
“Vienna is a global hub for universities, companies and international organizations. Establishing a campus there will give CEU’s faculty and students exciting new opportunities. We look forward to working with the city and the Austrian government to make a CEU Vienna a reality,” said CEU president and rector Michael Ignatieff. “Even as we develop a CEU Vienna, Budapest will remain our home base. We are committed to resolving our long-term future in Budapest through the New York State-Government of Hungary draft agreement. We hope that the Hungarian government will sign and ratify it as soon as possible.”
“For Vienna as a university city, cooperation with the CEU offers the opportunity of the century,” said Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl. “CEU is a symbol of the awakening in the central and eastern European EU member states, and with its social and humanities focus would complement the Viennese university landscape well.”
Central European University is a graduate institution, offering US and Hungarian accredited Master’s and doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities, business and economics, environmental sciences and policy, law, network science, cognitive science and mathematics. CEU’s graduates, who now number nearly 15,000, come from over 100 countries. Founded in 1991 and endowed by George Soros, its mission is to promote critical inquiry, world-class research and intensive teaching that promotes the values of an open society: free politics, free institutions and free minds.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a fierce critic of CEU, going so far last April as to threaten its continued presence in Hungary. He backed down – and withdrew a proposed law that could have closed the university – only after intense local and international pressure forced him to do so. He has since criticised Hungarian academics for defending CEU, saying that: “it is still not clear why, rather than seeking to ensure that their universities should also have the rights enjoyed by the CEU, representatives of Hungarian academia, scholars and professors at Hungarian universities are instead arguing for George Soros to keep his privileges.”