These days it seems easier for leaders to make bold decisions; decisions that go completely against what we as international educators assume to be well-accepted realities. Not so long ago it was hard to imagine this new reality where bold decisions increasingly force us to make a choice to stay silent or speak out.
The EAIE and the international higher education community currently have the opportunity to speak out about the recently proposed legislative changes in Hungary, which are targeting the well-respected Central European University in Budapest. This institution, committed to promoting academic freedom, has as its core mission:
“Central European University is a graduate institution of advanced research and teaching, dedicated to socially and morally responsible intellectual inquiry. CEU’s distinctive educational program builds on the research tradition of the great American universities; on the most valuable Central European intellectual traditions; on the international diversity of its faculty and students; on its commitment to social service; and on its own history of academic and policy achievements in transforming the closed communist inheritance. CEU is committed to promoting the values of open society and self-reflective critical thinking.
[…] CEU is a new model for international education, a center for study of contemporary economic, social and political challenges, and a source of support for building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity.”
These values are essential to CEU’s existence and are at the heart of what most of us believe is key to the work we do as international educators.
The value of international education
Our mission as the European Association for International Education (EAIE) is to foster developments in international higher education. We believe that international education and exchange deepens appreciation of human society and is essential to the prosperity of societies and individuals alike. We support institutions that are committed to these ideals.
We express our deep concern regarding the developments in Hungary. Central European University is an excellent example of an internationalised university. It has added a lot of value both to the Hungarian higher education sector and to the European Higher Education Area more broadly. To endanger this progress would be a serious mistake.
We cannot neglect an act that is not only an attack on an individual or a specific institution, but that is actually aimed at the heart of everything the international higher education community stands for. There is currently a petition urging the Hungarian government to withdraw the proposed legislation that would make it impossible for Central European University – and possibly other international institutions – to continue operations within the country. We invite EAIE members to join the EAIE Board in expressing their support for CEU by signing this petition.
Photo credit: CEU / Daniel Vegel