The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion There’s more to the story of Central European University

People attend a rally for Central European University in Budapest on Nov. 24.
People attend a rally for Central European University in Budapest on Nov. 24. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

The Dec. 7 editorial “ ‘A dark day for Hungary’ ” neglected a number of important questions and details. Here’s one: If Central European University were indeed “ousted” from Hungary, as the editorial claimed, then how does it continue to operate and award degrees in Hungary through its locally registered affiliate, the Kozep-europai Egyetem? U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David B. Cornstein was precisely right when he said, “It doesn’t have anything to do with academic freedom.”

Here’s another: How can Central European University award diplomas from the United States when CEU does not deliver accredited degrees in the United States? That’s a simple and perfectly reasonable requirement under Hungary’s legislation. CEU does not operate a real campus or deliver graduate degrees at Bard College in New York, as some claim. This is why it cannot continue to operate in Hungary as some kind of “offshore university.”

And another detail the editorial overlooked: Hungary’s law has affected dozens of foreign institutions of higher education operating in Hungary. Many of them had no problem complying, including McDaniel College in Maryland.

Zoltan Kovacs, Budapest

The writer is secretary of state for international communications and relations in the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister for Hungary.