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Piecemeal Devourment: Academic Freedom in Hungary

Abstract: Using the case study of Hungary, the author provides a snapshot of how academic freedom can be curtailed in a hybrid illiberal regime. The focus includes the freedom to (i) do research, (ii) publish and disseminate research results, and (iii) teach. The Article first provides an overview of recent assaults on universities and research institutes, followed by examples of censorship in Hungary since the electoral victory of Viktor Orbán and the development of his self-identified illiberal democracy. Next, this Article assesses the harms and damages and discusses potential responses by stakeholders. This Article does not stop at providing a heart-sinking diagnosis but makes a strong case for experimenting with novel initiatives to aid scholars at risk and in peril.

Using the case study of Hungary, this Article provides an overview’ of how, according to literary sources, academic freedom can be curtailed in illiberal regimes.[2] This inquiry focuses on how efforts and pressures by the government may impede academic freedom. Although the regime is in the center of manifold and multilayered criticisms because of its disregard for rule of law requirements,[3] most of these practices are apparently acceptable in the European Union and the Council of Europe, or at least do not trigger radical political or legal reaction. Threats to academics and academic freedom in many parts of the world, such as China, Turkey or Brazil,[4] are far more extreme with their physical atrocities, incarceration, deportation, the withdrawal of travel documents.

First, it needs to be emphasized that there are a number of general features of contemporary academic life which burden academics even in the “free world” where the government does not encroach on academic freedom. Most of these coexist with the challenges provided in the focus of this assessment, affecting those living and working in illiberal regimes. Such features include the idiosyncrasies of academic capitalism,[5] or the effects of the culture war in the field of social sciences. Here, debates often turn to career-threatening battles between camps labeling dissenters as ‘woke social justice warriors for grievance studies engaged in mesearch’ on the one side, and privileged paternalistic conservatives who endorse backlashes against identity politics on the other. In this world, the population of tenured professors is dwindling and even those left are threatened by new forms of self-censorship, avoiding at all costs to be accused of “cultural appropriation.” This is intrinsically connected with debates on the “snowflake” generation’s peculiar role in the commercialized educational sector, which is a highly lucrative enterprise where students are customers and consumer satisfaction is paramount. Avoiding classroom friction with unpopular opinions is an existential necessity for adjuncts, instructors, and part-time faculty with renewable contracts who make up a majority of teaching staff.[6]

The occasional controversial use, or even as some argue, abuse[7] of harassment procedures in the #MeToo-era[8]is a serious source of concern, even if it should be seen as a necessary side effect of the long-needed shift in how gender equality, gender roles, and the contours of social interaction have changed in Western societies. This leads us to an additional point: traditional patterns of marginalization also curtail academic freedom by merely limiting access to academic resources and recognition, and thereby structurally disfavoring and inhibiting identifiable groups within the academic community.[9] As Gráinne de Búrca, Michaela Hailbronner, and Marcela Prieto Rudolphy point out,

Women within faculties, graduate departments, and colleges face sexual harassment, abuse, and even rape[10] as well as less visible but pervasive forms of gender discrimination, bias, and misogyny. . . .  On top of this, there are many other ways in which the “gender gap” manifests itself. These range from implicit bias in hiring and promotion to the gender pay gap[11] to gendered expectations and judgments in mentorship and teaching evaluations to the fact that women bear a disproportionate burden of the administrative work within universities, as well as of the domestic work at home. [12]

Despite the fact that this Article will limit its scrutiny to government-induced encroachment on academic freedom in Hungary, it hopes to serve as an opening discussion for further comparison and general observations beyond its limited scope. Academic freedom in this Article is interpreted to include the freedom to (i) do research, (ii) publish and disseminate research results, and (iii) teach.[13] Examples for encroachment are based on academic or mainstream media sources, excluding hearsay and even testimony of academic peers. This Article will first provide an overview of recent assaults on universities and research institutes, in addition to cases of censorship in Hungary in the past 10 years.[14]Following, this Article will assess the harms and damages, along with the potential stakeholder responses. The Article is triggered by experiences coming from social sciences (and legal academia in particular). Hence, its findings may not be applicable beyond social sciences or humanities. As shown below, attacks on academic freedom can target research institutes, as well as universities. In addition, cutting ties with nongovernmental organizations (“NGOs”) and human rights defenders can have a chilling effect on academic freedom.

Threats to free research

The artillery of government action is intricate. Reported limitations on academic freedom in the field of research is fourfold. First, an entire web of autonomous research institutions that cover nearly all fields of science and operated under the auspices of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were transferred to a government-controlled entity.[15] This involved 5,000 researchers in 38 institutes.[16] Second, national science and culture funds were taken over by the government. In 2020, the Ministry for Innovation and Technology unilaterally altered the list of funded grants from the National Scientific Research Committee, which is the main, and virtually only, source of basic research. Several members of the committee and the grantees protested and resigned.[17] Third, funds have been removed to an alternative network of government-dependent and government-friendly research institutes, think-tanks, and government-organized non-governmental organizations (“GONGO’s”).[18] And last, after the adoption of a new privacy law, government agencies can refuse to provide information to NGO’s and excessively charge for public data requests.[19] Ceasing cooperation with critical members of the civil sector [20] seriously threatens academic freedom because Hungary has lost important sources of data and research.

 Threats to free teaching

There are at least ten ways exhibiting how academic freedom in the field of teaching has reportedly been limited:

  1. University autonomy curtailed because presidents (Rectors) of public universities, the newly established “university consistoriums,” and the new position of the financial director (Chancellor) are to be appointed by the government: The Higher Education Act of 2011 placed “the intellectual and spiritual renewal of the nation” in its center and did not even include the word autonomy.[21]
  2. Cutting and divesting certain singled-out programs from state-funded institutions: Cutting programs, such as the Social Studies BA and certain international relations and media studies programs, restricts academic freedom. These programs continue to run on their own.[22]
  3. Blatantly denying accreditations for certain programs in public universities: A University’s right to accredit and start programs is generally curtailed, as they must receive permission from the minister if they want to start a program. Furthermore, following a pro‐government media campaign against centers of education and research specializing in gender studies, the Gender Studies MA was banned. This means that no higher education institution can issue a degree in the field of gender studies, not even in the form of tuition-paying education or at a private university. The government claimed that the content of such programs was not compatible with its view of society.[23]
  4. Denying and withdrawing accreditation for a certain, singled out institution: The Central European University (CEU), established and funded by philanthrope George Soros in 1991, and the leading university in the region, originally ran under a double accreditation system between the United States and Hungary. In 2017, the Hungarian Parliament hastily adopted an amendment to the Act of National Higher Education, forcing CEU to cease its operation in Budapest. The law required CEU to open an additional campus in the State of New York and that the Hungarian government would sign an agreement with the United States federal government. This seemed impossible because the United States federal government has no jurisdiction in states’ matters regarding higher educational issues. With great effort and in collaboration with Bard College, CEU opened a campus in New York, and the governor of New York was ready to sign an agreement with the Hungarian government, who then failed to respond. The case became famous and received a great deal of publicity, especially after an infringement procedure was launched by the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union. In October 2020, the Court found that the law was discriminatory and incompatible with EU and WTO law.[24] The case was also discussed in detail the so-called Sargentini-report, which is the proposal of the European Parliament calling on the European Council to determine the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the European Union was established. [25] The exiling of CEU triggered immense protest. CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff, a former Canadian politician and professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, called law “discriminatory political vandalism violating Hungarian academic freedom.”[26] He initiated a heroic battle for international solidarity involving countless universities, thousands of academics, including Nobel Prize winners and American senators and politicians.[27] The law also triggered one of the largest series of demonstrations in Hungary against the Orbán-government, bringing as many as 80,000 people to the streets. Most of the Hungarian universities, the Hungarian Rectors' Conference and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences declared solidarity. CEU has about 17,000 alumni, faculty from more than 40 countries, and students from more than 100. The university estimates that it contributed almost €24 million annually to the Hungarian economy, a benefit that will now go to Austria because the institution moved to Vienna in 2019.[28]
  5. The Government’s take-over of the national accreditation board: The board is in charge of quality assurance of higher education, accrediting programs, and evaluating applications for professorships. The 2011 Higher Education Act dismissed the board and determined that the president and half of its members were to be chosen by the Government, severely restricting academic freedom.[29]
  6. Privatizing universities to a government-owned foundation: A peculiar way of tampering with academic institutions is by outsourcing or selling them. The 2019 privatization of Corvinus University, a major institution, was the first example of transferring higher educational institutions to foundations owned or directed by trustworthy political allies.[30] In 2020, eight major public universities followed, including the only University of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Art and Design. The remodeled institutions, which continue to receive state funding, are governed by boards of trustees and filled by members of parliament, cabinet members (such as the Foreign, and the Justice Minister), oligarchs, and government-appointed academics and business moguls.[31]Following a large-scale resignation of faculty, students of the University of Theatre and Film Arts occupied the campus in protest of the reorganization and the newly appointed university leadership in September, 2020.[32]
  7. Nationalizing public education: The central government took over schools previously run by local governments. New legislation merged every elementary school to one single state administrative unit, where all teachers were obliged to enter the new National Teachers' Chamber. Along with taking control of appointing school directors, the status of home-schooled private students was also abolished in order to prevent the escape of dissatisfied families.[33]
  8. Centralizing public education-curricula: The Orbán-regime also adopted a mandatory, ideologically biased framework-curriculum, which only allows a 20% flexibility in terms of content. The measures abolished the textbook market and schools no longer have the opportunity to implement pedagogical strategies adjusted to their students’ abilities.[34]
  9. Distorting the academic labor market by diverting funding to directly government-operated institutions: A new institution, the National University of Public Service, was created in 2012 and merged the former Police College, the Faculty for Public Administration, and the Military Academy. Moreover, subsequent faculties were added, establishing a monopoly in training not only future officers, but also diplomats and public servants. The National University of Public Service also receives a large budget and an enormous amount of project support. The University, governed by the Prime Minister’s Office, is cut out of the higher education system and receives four times the regular financial support of students. The Hungarian National Bank also founded Pallasz Athéné University (later renamed János Neumann University), which similarly receives extensive state support.[35]
  10. And finally, firing faculty: Media and NGO sources report on the immediate termination of faculty members in connection with undesirable political conduct.[36]

Threats to free dissemination of research

There are four ways showing how academic freedom is reportedly curtailed in the dissemination and publishing of research findings. First, academic freedom is restricted by censoring academic publications. European University Institute Professor Gábor Halmai describes one of the few documented cases:

A talented young legal researcher, who happens to be a co-editor of Fundamentum, a Hungarian language human rights quarterly I established back in 1997, wrote a scientific article based on empirical studies about the partisan appointment procedure of judges. The editorial board of Pro Futuro, the journal of the University of Debrecen Law School accepted the paper for publication, but the Dean of the Law School later intervened and asked the editors not to publish it for admittedly ‘not-professional reasons.’ As the editor-in-chief of Fundamentum, I called upon my fellow law journal editors to issue a protest letter addressed to all scientific journals and the general public on the threats of censorship in academia. I haven’t received any response. [37]

Second, censoring academic events severely curtails academic autonomy. Numerous public and unreported cases reveal universities blocking purely academic events that would involve blacklisted human rights NGO’s or dissident academics. Even projects run by international organizations, such as the Council of Europe or the European Union, were banned from such academic events. For example, a research group supported by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and hosted by the Criminology Department of ELTE Faculty of Law protested the “steps taken against students’ participation at a conference.”[38] In contrast, media reported that the rector of a public university mandated students to attend the defense minister’s public lecture, cancelled classes, and required faculty to escort students to the lecture hall.[39] In a similar case, a local government representative reported that one of the professors announced that attendance at the mayor’s talk will be worth five percent of the mid-term test.[40]

Third, the launching of pro-government media campaigns to intimidate critical academics threatens the free dissemination of research. In Hungary, there have been no incidents like the Polish Sadurski-trial,[41] yet groups of intellectuals have become the targets of repeated attacks and smear-campaigns by the media empire sustained by the government. For example, Figyelő, a pro-government magazine weekly publishes the names of hundreds of intellectuals, including academics and even university students, who were the “agents of George Soros” and makes derogatory statements about their research performance. Students were asked by a government friendly website to report if their professors are critical toward the government. In this milieu, several conference programs about sensitive questions, like gender equality or migration, were cancelled.[42] One academic actually managed to win a court case against such labeling.[43]

Fourth, retaliation against institutions for solidarity threatens the spread of research. There are documented cases where ten institutions of advanced studies lost government funding for expressing solidarity with Central European University.[44]

The censorship occurring is blatant, such as when Századvég, a now government-friendly social science journal positioning as an academic journal, was taken over and the last issue was revoked from the press.[45]

Harms and Challenges

Voicing criticism of the government usually is an invitation to retaliation, such as the untraceable form of denied promotion. One of such incidents involved a right-wing think tank, named after the first democratically-elected prime minister, which fired a researcher in 2017 for liking a Facebook post that opposed government plans of hosting the Olympic Games in Budapest. Represented by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the court found that her dismissal was discriminatory.[46]

Based on the above, let us review some of the most prominent features of how these infringements affect the academic community – at least in the field of social sciences. First, political censorship and other forms of restrictions on academic freedom disproportionally target junior faculty and academics living in geographic, political, and socio-economic peripheries, most of which are already burdened by linguistic barriers. This further accelerates the widening of the gap between the East and West, along with the central and periphery, and has a devastating effect on national, local and regional academia and science.

Second, chilling academic freedom primarily focuses on local (language) projects: academic events and publications (this actually gives some hope for potential remedies for international relief missions). Third, traditionally, the general rule for most was exposure and publicity provides protection, although it was hardly a universal guarantee. Fourth, many senior academics with tenure, with established international networks, with potential access to grants, and with non-government based resources were not affected, which also provides some hope. Fifth, the difficulty in documenting censorship prevents effective reaction and remedies. Sixth, censorship often relies on the twisted rhetoric of neutrality (“we would then have to provide access to the other side”) and the similarly twisted rhetoric of solidarity (“you wouldn’t want to others to get into trouble, now, would you”).

Infringement of academic freedom has many faces: censorship, defunding or banning academic programs, harassment, intimidation, tax raids, existential threats (termination), and closing institutions or units. Technically, censorship can affect the following: entire curricula, courses, course materials, publications, conferences, and even the impossibility of finding reviewers as individuals are afraid to express critical views due to a lack of trust in anonymity.[47] Furthermore, we have to accept that it may simply be prudent and logical for university management to only recruit conformists.

In sum, academics face all sorts of external and internal pressures. These can be psychological: harassment, intimidation, tax raids; existential: disadvantages in career-progress and promotion, being laid off, lack of access to discretionary travel grants and other subsidies; and institutional: threats to accreditation of programs, units, and entire institutions. Internal pressures can also lead to self-censorship. The effect of these pressures can be manifold: harassment and intimidation consume an incredible amount of energy and time. In addition, answering to tax authorities’ targeted inquiries is an extremely time-consuming exercise. Institutional insecurity (concerning university programs or entire institutions) paralyzes strategic planning, grant applications, and student recruitment. The increased level of stress and fatigue radically diminishes performance, be it research or teaching. This all eventually harms national academia and education. If junior and senior faculty only echo government propaganda and cautiously avoids challenging issues, domestic academic outputs will lose relevance and alienate students.

Dismantling research centers, academic programs, or institutions causes irreversible harms: these communities can hardly be rebuilt, even if the political regime would change abruptly. Ousted or exiled from academia is not something academics can easily cope with. Being an academic is a profession with long-term investment and a gradual development of profiles and identities. Losing one’s particular appointment may be a reasonable risk in the academic job market but being ostracized systematically puts academics in great peril.

What are then the possible coping strategies? Options are limited to collaboration; self-censorship, choosing politically insensitive research and teaching areas; protest (signing and drafting petitions for domestic and international professional/academic and political pressure, organizing and taking part in public demonstrations); exile/emigration; and looking for external funding.

Apparently, at least in the case of Hungary, protests have proved unsuccessful. One can hardly imagine a more effective domestic and international academic camaraderie and protest than what the attack against Central European University generated: almost 100,000 protesters, thousands of highly prestigious academics expressing solidarity,[48]continuous reporting in leading international media,[49] an infringement procedure launched by the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union[50] (note that at the time Tibor Navracsics, Orbán’s former justice minister was Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport), political headlines and detailed discussions in documents such as the Sargentini report: all in vain.

What can be done?

This Article does not stop with simply providing a heart-sinking diagnosis. Although, it needs to be emphasized how little effect academic or political protests appear to have, and also, that immigration is not only detrimental for the nation, but given the difficulty of the academic job market globally, it is also not a guaranteed success for academics in exile. Hence, one should focus on the last option: securing independent resources, EU or other grants, networking and other incentives for moral and intellectual inspiration for scholars to carry on. Besides reiterating the importance of short-term exchange and academic visitor programs and collaborative grants and projects, the academic community should consider experimenting with novel initiatives to aid scholars at risk and in peril (even if the raging coronavirus may change our lives entirely). This Article outline a four-stage program to potentially remedy the effects of censorship for humanities and social sciences.

First, an international forum needs to be designed for fact-finding and documentation of potential cases of political censorship. Second, ethical guidelines need to be adopted and advocated globally by journals which would publish and sanction censoring practices and would be reflected in ranking. Third, in order to process reports, an international “ombuds forum” or “editors’ forum” needs to be established. And finally, an international affirmative action program for scholars at risk could be established involving reviewers with journals operating under a set of formalized qualification criteria. For the last point, let us bear in mind, that high-ranking journal publications will provide a certain degree of protection for academics in peril. This is because most illiberal autocracies are part of the global academic market and wish to attract foreign students, race for grants and ranking internationally., And here impact factor and Q1 publications are a sought-after currency. The details, especially of the last point need to be codified very cautiously, as it is a challenging academic and intellectual task to define censorship for documentary and practical purposes, and to develop standards on how it can be distinguished from substandard quality and actual political content and counterpropaganda. We also need to be aware that publicly identifying as a “scholar at risk” in, say, a designated “affirmative action section” of a journal, can also have a chilling effect, stigmatizing and deepening domestic division among scholars domestically. Nevertheless, given what is at stake and after careful consideration, it may be worth attempting to launch a working paper series by prestigious journals or universities, and maybe move on to establishing a spin-off in local languages following the model of Radio Free Europe.

[1] (JD 1998, MA 1999, M.Phil., Ph.D. 2005, Habil. 2009, D.Sc. 2013) Adjunct (Recurrent Visiting) Professor, Central European University, Vienna, Professor of Law, Eötvös University, Institute for Business Economic/ Ludovika University of Public Service, Research Chair and Head of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Department, (formerly Hungarian Academy of Sciences) Centre for Social Sciences Institute for Legal Studies, Budapest, Hungary. He is a former visiting scholar at New York University Law School’s Global Law Program, and a Marie-Curie Fellow; his research interest include comparative constitutional law, human rights, and law enforcement. In 2018 he founded the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) Research Group on identity, race and ethnicity in constitutional law.

[2] Some sections of this text are parts of a more robust piece to be written for the Brown Journal of World Affairs Spring/Summer 2021 issue.

[3] Comm. on C.L., Just. and Home Aff., Rep. on a proposal calling on the Council to determine, pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the existence of a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded, A8-0250/2018 (2019).

[4] Antonio Pele & Bethania Assy, Academic Freedom(s) in the Drift Towards Authoritarianism (3/4): Brazil, Hypotheses: Academic Blogs (Dec. 11, 2019),

[5] Gráinne de Búrca & J.H.H. Weiler, Wiley and the European Law Journal, I Connect: Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law(Feb. 5, 2020),

[6] See Laura Kipnis, Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe, The Chronicle of Higher Education (Feb. 27, 2015),

[7] Laura Kipnis, My Title IX Inquisition, The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 29, 2015),; Laura Kipnis, Eyewitness to a Title IX Witch Trial, The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 2, 2017),; Laura Kipnis, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus 22 (2017); Christina Kirkpatrick, Campus Sexual Misconduct Due Process Protections, 1 Channels: Where Disciplines Meet 1, 163-77 (Nov. 2016).

[8] András L. Pap, Harassment: A Silver Bullet to Tackle Institutional Discrimination, But No Panacea for all Forms of Dignity and Equality Harms, 5 Intersections 11, 25 (July 2019); Zsolt Enyedi, Democratic Backsliding and Academic Freedom in Hungary, 16 Perspectives on Politics 1067 (2018).

[9] See Mark Davies, Academic Freedom: A Lawyer's Perspective, 70 Higher Educ. 987 (2015) (pointing out how historically academic freedom was mostly seen to be underpinned by autonomy of universities from state, now corporatized universities are pushed down market-driven pathways, where academics may find their university as a direct threat to academic freedom.) He notes a 2006 survey finding that around 40 % of academics expressed concern at increasing threats to their freedom to express controversial or unpopular opinions. Id.Almost 25 % reported self-censorship out of concern for institutional or peer disapproval. Id. We have all the good reason to believe that today we would see higher estimates.

[10] Diane L. Rosenfeld, Uncomfortable Conversations: Confronting the Reality of Target Rape on Campus, 128 Harv. L. Rev. 359 (2015); Robin G. Nelson et. al., Signaling Safety: Characterizing Fieldwork Experiences and Their Implications for Career Trajectories, 119 Am. Anthropologist 710 (2017); David Cantor et. at., Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct 31 (2015); David Batty et. al., Sexual Harassment 'at Epidemic Levels' in UK Universities, The Guardian (Mar. 5, 2017),; Sally Weale & David Batty, Sexual Harassment of Students by University Staff Hidden by Non-Disclosure Agreements, The Guardian (Aug. 26, 2016),

[11] Joshua Hatch, Gender Pay Gap Persists Across Faculty Ranks, The Chronicle of Higher Education (March 22, 2017),; Rachel Hall, Gender Pay Gap in Academia Will Take 40 Years to Close, The Guardian (May 26, 2017),

[12] Michaela Hailbronner et. al., Gender in Academic Publishing, 17 I·CON: The International J. of Constitutional Law 1025 (2020).

[13] For international commitments and soft law on academic freedom consider Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Right, the 1997 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the status of higher education teaching personnel, or the Magna Charta Universitatum. For general literature see: Klaus D. Beiter, Academic Freedom and Its Protection in the Law of European States: Measuring an International Human Right, 3 European J. of Comparative Law and Governance 254 (2016); Niall McCrae, Nurturing Critical Thinking and Academic Freedom in the 21st Century University, 23 Int’l J. of Teaching and Learning in Higher Educ. 128 (2011); Kathleen Lynch & Mariya Ivancheva, Academic Freedom and the Commercialisation of the Universities: A Critical Ethical Analysis, 15 Ethics in Sci. & Envtl. Politics 71 (2015); Earl Hunt, The Rights and Responsibilities Implied by Academic Freedom, 49 Personality & Individual Differences 264 (2010); Jogchum Vrielink et. al., Academic Freedom as a Fundamental Right, 13 Procedia – Soc. & Behav. Sci. 117 (2011).

[14] Since the electoral victory of Viktor Orbán and the development of his self-identified illiberal democracy. See Timothy G. Ash, Europe Must Stop this Disgrace: Viktor Orbán is Dismantling Democracy, The Guardian (June 20, 2019),; András L. Pap, Democratic Decline in Hungary: Law and Society in an Illiberal Democracy 56-66 (2017).

[15] Gábor Halmai, The End of Academic Freedom in Hungary, Hypotheses: Academic Blogs (Oct. 21, 2019),

[16] Iván Bajomi et. al., Hungary Turns Its Back on Europe: Dismantling Culture, Education, Science and the Media in Hungary 2010–2019, 45-46 (Oktatói Hálózat Hungarian Network Of Academics) (2020).

[17] See Ábrahám Vass, Science Academy President ‘Shocked’ After Ministry Unilaterally Modifies Basic Research Scholarship Results, Hungarytoday (Sept. 8, 2020),

[18] Id. at 6-7.

[19] The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the anti-corruption portal K-Monitor, Transparency International Hungary and the International Press Institute (IPI) argued that Act CXII of 2011 on Informational Self-Determination and Freedom of Information (the so-called “Privacy Act”) imposes an undue restriction on access to public interest data, on the transparency of the government's operations, and thereby increases the risk of corruption. The government pushed through several subsequent legislative actions curtailing access to public data introducing the concept of “abusive data requests” in 2013, and abolishing anonymous data requests as well as allowing government offices to charge (even very high amounts) for processing access to data in 2015, and making certain public areas, such as the postal services or certain national budget-calculations exempt from disclosure requirements. Hungarian NGOs Call FOI Changes as Unconstitutional, Freedom Info (July 3, 2013),

[20] Some having been declared as foreign agents under a Russian-type legislation, which the European Court of Justice struck down in June 2020. See V. Di Bucci et al, Case Law, Info Curia (June 18, 2020)

[21] See Bajomi, supra note 15, at 7; Tamas D. Ziegler, Academic Freedom in the European Union: Why the Single European Market is a Bad Reference Point, Max Planck Inst. Comp. Pub. L. & Int’l L., Jan. 2019, at 4-33.

[22] Id. at 30-31, 41; see also Ziegler, supra note 19, at 11.

[23] See Bajomi, supra note 15, at 30-31.

[24] The CJEU found that the Hungarian law violates WTO law, and imposes unacceptable restrictions on internal market freedoms such as freedom of establishment (Article 49 TFEU) and the free movement of services (Article 16 of Directive 2006/123/EC) and as such violates several Charter rights, among them academic freedom (Article 13 CFR) and the freedom to found such institutions (Articles 14(3) and 16 CFR).

  1. Di Bucci et al, Case Law, Info Curia (October 6, 2020),, See also Uitz, Renáta:Finally: The CJEU Defends Academic Freedom, VerfBlog,(October, 8, 2020)

[25] See Comm. on C.L., supra note 1; see also Lilla Farkas, The EU, Segregation and Rule of Law Resilience in Hungary, VerfBlog (Mar. 8, 2020),

[26] Palko Karasz, Hungary Plan That Could Shutter Soros’s University Is Called ‘Political Vandalism’, N.Y. Times (Mar. 29, 2020),

[27] Michael Ignatieff, Academic Freedom and the Future of Europe, Centre for Global Higher Education, 6 (Working Paper No. 40, 2018); see also Halmai, supra note 14, Bajomi et. al., supra note 15, at 43.

[28] Benjamin Novak, Pushed From Hungary, University Created by Soros Shifts to Vienna, N.Y. Times (Nov. 15, 2019),

[29] See Bajomi, supra note 15, at 38.

[30]Id. at 5, 30-31.

[31] Neuberger Eszter, Kevesebb ráfordítással nagyobb kontroll, erről szól az egyetemek alapítványi kiszervezése, !!444!!! (June 24, 2020),

[32] George Szirtes, Hungary's Students are Making a Last Stand Against Viktor Orbán’s Power Grab, The Guardian (Sept. 15, 2020),

[33] See Bajomi, supra note 15, at 5, 32-33, 36.

[34] Id. at 36.

[35] Id. at 5, 39; see also Ziegler, supra note 19, at 8.

[36] Solidarity Statement of the MTA-ELTE Lendület Spectra Research Group (Nov. 4, 2019),;

Szolidaritás a Nemzeti Közszolgálati Egyetem elbocsátott professzorával, Gyűlölet-bűncselekmények Elleni Munkacsoport (Nov. 14, 2019),

[37] See Halmai, supra note 14.

[38] See Solidarity Statement, supra note 34.

[39] Kötelező meghallgatniuk Simicskót a Miskolci Egyetem diákjainak, index (Nov. 24, 2017),

[40] Borkai Zsolt, Itt tartunk: beleszámít az egyetemi zh-ba, ha a diákok elmennek a fideszes polgármester előadására, Alfahír (Apr. 16, 2019),

[41] Gráinne de Búrca et. al., Stand with Wojciech Sadurski: His Freedom of Expression is (Y)ours, Verfassungsblog (Nov. 18, 2019),

[42] See Bajomi, supra note 15, at 22-23; see also Ziegler, supra note 19, at 12.

[43] Zsolt Körtvélyesi, Fear and (Self-)Censorship in Academia, VerfBlog (Sept. 16, 2020),

[44] Juhász Edina, Támogatták a CEU-t, aztán kevesebb pénzt kaptak, Index (Dec. 15, 2019),

[45] See Körtvélyesi, supra note 41.

[46] Id. See also Statement, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Criticism of Public Officials Is a Right and a Duty! (Nov. 11, 2015),

[47] The author has personal experiences in this: over a half-dozen reviewers refused to formally review an article written by a government-friendly constitutional court judge, while off-the-record advising to reject it.

[48] Fekő, Ádám, Hat éve volt az utolsó tüntetés, amely meghátrálásra késztette a kormányt, (Oct. 28, 2020) HVG,

[49] Reuters, Thousands Rally to Keep Soros-Founded University in Hungary, Reuters (Oct. 26, 2018),, Reuters, Thousands Protest in Hungary Over Threat to Soros University, The Guardian (Apr. 9, 2017),, Reuters, Hungarians Protest Their Leader by the Tens of Thousands, N.Y. Times (Apr. 9, 2017),

[50] Supra note 24.