Mr. Zoltán Balog
Minister of Human Capacities
1054 Budapest, Akadémia utca 3.
We, the Executive Board of the Swedish Association of Media and Communication Research (FSMK), are writing to express solidarity with Central European University and express concern at proposed legislative changes to CEU’s status in Hungary. These changes, while formulated in ostensibly neutral terms, will affect only one university and it is difficult to interpret the proposed changes in any other way than as an attack on the academic freedom and general operations of the CEU.
The CEU is a world-renowned institution of teaching and research – not least in our own field, media and communication research – and as such a Hungarian national treasure. In international rankings, some of CEU’s departments are rated among the top 50 in the world. CEU also makes Hungary a regional leader in winning highly competitive European Research Council grants. Several of CEU’s faculty has won prestigious awards in their disciplines.
The students and faculty of CEU come from all over the world (students from over 100 countries and faculty from over 30 at last count) and as such is a center of learning that the Hungarian nation and the city of Budapest can take great pride in. CEU hosts many world-leading scholars and have among its alumni scholars, authors and leading politicians from many European countries. The CEU is a leading and active participant in international scholarly exchanges and cooperation programs and counts among its partner institutions many of the world’s foremost universities. Such international scholarly cooperation is at the heart of what the principle of academic freedom is set to protect: the free and open exchange of ideas across national borders. We also note that in its entire history of operation, the CEU has been in full compliance with Hungarian law.
As such, the CEU is a valued member of the international academic community and its presence in Hungary has added to the reputation of Hungarian academic life on the international stage. On a personal note, I the undersigned (Professor Henrik Örnebring), have previously worked (as the Swedish representative) on a CEU-led European comparative research project, and I know first-hand the commitment to academic excellence and international cooperation that characterizes all of CEU. The government’s proposed legislation would severely compromise and threaten precisely these commitments to excellence and international scholarly cooperation, and endanger the future of CEU as a Hungarian and Budapest-based institution.
We respectfully urge the government to withdraw the proposed legislation and enter consultation with CEU, bearing in mind the damage such legislation might do to Hungary’s well-founded international academic reputation, and to its relationships with its European partners.
Professor Henrik Örnebring, Karlstad University,
For the members of the Executive Board of the
Swedish Association of Media and Communication Research (Chair)
Dr Ylva Ekström, Uppsala University (Vice-Chair)
Dr Mattias Ekman, Örebro University (Secretary)
Dr Michael Forsman, Södertörn University (Vice-Secretary)
Dr Ulrika Sjöberg, Malmö University (Treasurer)
Dr Merja Ellefson, Umeå University (Communication Officer)
Dr Ernesto Abalo, Jönköping University
Dr Linus Andersson, Halmstad University
Dr Maria Edström, Göteborg University
Dr Camilla Hermansson, Luleå Technical University
Dr Helena Sandberg, Lund University
Tindra Thor (PhD student representative), Stockholm University
Fredrik Norén (PhD student representative), Umeå University