In 2018, Hungary banned gender studies degrees, subjected the Academy of Sciences to direct political control and exiled Central European University: the first European country to force out a university since World War II. This exile did not happen overnight. Central European University has faced a relentless torrent of misinformation, propaganda and open hostility since the passage of the Lex CEU law in 2017. Despite international outcry and warnings from US and European policymakers, the Hungarian government refused to back down. By fall of 2018, it became clear these attacks on academic freedom were symptoms of a wider, more sinister trend. In the past ten years, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz have shut down independent newspapers, stripped the judiciary of its autonomy and taxed NGOs out of operation. This year, Freedom House warned that Hungary had become the first country in the EU to regress from “free” to “partly free”. The situation is dire: democracy is disintegrating.
Szabad Egyetem/ The Free University, follows students and allies of the Central European University as they struggle to resist attacks by an authoritarian government.