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Hungarian university says government ban on gender studies is an 'infringement on academic freedom

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has implemented a ban on graduate gender studies courses. Orban has long considered the George Soros-founded Central European University as a bastion of liberalism. (ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Hungary implemented a ban on graduate gender studies courses on Saturday, prompting one of the country's most prominent universities to issue a statement slamming the decision.

What are the details?

Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed a decree prohibiting gender studies programs from receiving accreditation and tax dollars, after his party won a comfortable majority earlier this year.

Fox News reported that Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs issued a statement on the ban in August, explaining, "There is no economic rationale for studies such as these, and so we have reason to presume that it was not created in response to labor market needs, and equally not to furnish students with skills that can be readily and directly converted on the labor market."

Kovacs said that gender studies programs "take valuable resources away from other programs, and deteriorate the economic stability of universities."  He added that "state universities operated from public funds must take this into consideration as the purpose of these higher education institutions is to meet genuine social and labor market needs."

The ban impacts just two universities in the country, and only 13 students enrolled in graduate level gender studies programs this year in total, the Daily Wire reported.

One of the institutions affected is pushing back against the ban, according to Agence France-Presse. Central European University in Budapest issued a statement in protest on Tuesday.

"This is a major infringement on academic freedom and university autonomy," the statement said. "Eliminating this program will be a significant loss to the Hungarian scholarly community and for democratically-minded public policy."

Anything else?

CEU was founded by billionaire George Soros in 1993 after the fall of Communism, with a "mission to defend free and open societies," according to its website. AFP reported last year that "CEU is seen by the ruling Fidesz party as a bastion of liberalism."

In 2017, Hungary passed a law placing restrictions on foreign universities operating in the country, which critics say was directly targeted at CEU. European and American diplomats heavily criticized the legislation. The school says it is "now pursuing all available political and legal remedies against" it.

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