Central European University (CEU)

Logo of Central European University as of 2013. (link)


Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $59,298,239
Expenses: $55,236,586
Assets: $26,477,885






Budapest, Hungary

Vienna, Austria


Michael Ignatieff

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For more information, see Central European University Budapest Foundation (Nonprofit)

Central European University is a graduate-level, English-language university accredited in the U.S. and Hungary and located in Budapest. Financier and philanthropist George Soros founded the university in 1991. 1

Central European University Budapest Foundation (CEUBF) operates as the host of Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary. It determines the budget and provides for the educational, research and general operations of the university. The foundation also maintains CEU’s public utility reports and ensures that the university operates according to Hungarian law.2 3

In January 2020, George Soros announced that CEU and Bard College were jointly launching the Open Society University Network (OSUN), an international membership group of educational institutions established to promote the ideals of “open society” and to expand access to higher education for underprivileged groups. 4. Soros endowed the new network with $1 billion.


Billionaire philanthropist George Soros founded Central European University Budapest Foundation (CEUBF) from his Open Society Fund in 1991. 5 CEUBF then, from a legal standpoint, created CEU.6  Soros established the university, like his foundations, to spread his ideology through Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism.7 The three tenets on which the university focused were “democratic politics, constitutionalism, and non-command economics.”8 CEU formerly operated in Prague, but moved permanently to Budapest in 1993.9 Soros hoped to create the university with “three legs,” with campuses at Warsaw, Prague, and Budapest, but this plan never materialized.10 CEUBF maintains the university jointly with the Central European University Foundation, based in New York.11

Soros’s priorities have received criticism because CEU, which operates only as a graduate school, heavily favors the social sciences and does not offer degrees in “hard” sciences like engineering or chemistry.12

Relocation to Austria

On December 3rd, 2018, CEU president Michael Ignatieff announced that the University will relocate its U.S. accredited degree programs from Budapest to Vienna, Austria.13 After the Hungarian government passed a higher education law in April 2017 specifically to curtail the influence of Soros-funded social institutions, the government has the legal right to deny any inter-government proposal within its own boarders.14 CEU’s decision to leave Hungary concludes 18 months of negotiations between the University and the Hungarian government, after it was certain that the government has chosen to deny permission for the foreign school to enroll students within the country. 15


Throughout CEU’s existence, Soros has donated $20 million yearly to fund its operations. In 2001, he replaced his yearly contribution with a $250 million grant.16 He donated $202 million more in 2005 after the Hungarian government granted CEU accreditation, which brought the university’s endowment to $476 million.17 CEUBF maintains this endowment and allocates $20 million from it per year for university operations and additional training seminars such as international summer schools.18 19


  1. “George Soros – Open Society Founder and Chair.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed April 27, 2020.
  2. Intézményi dokumentumok. Central European University. Accessed March 30, 2018.
  3. Szervezeti felépítés. Central European University. Accessed March 30, 2018.
  4. “George Soros Announces Global Initiative to Transform Higher Education.” Open Society Foundations,
  5. “George Soros – Open Society Founder and Chair.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed April 27, 2020.
  6. Gabor, Juasz. “Soros nem hátrál – pénzt tolt a CEU-ba.” HVG. September 25, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2018.
  7. George Soros. Influence Watch. Accessed March 31, 2018.
  8. Alfred, Stepan. “The Early Years of Central European University as a Network: A Memoir.” Social Research 76:2 (2009): 692.
  9. History. Central European University. Accessed March 30, 2018.
  10. Rhoads, Robert A. and Katalin Szelényi. Global Citizen and the University: Advancing Social Life and Relations in an Interdependent World. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2011, 204.
  11. Magyar Balint, Minister of Education. “a New York-i székhelyű, Budapesten működő, angol oktatási nyelvű Közép-európai Egyetem magyar, nem állami egyetemként történő Elismeréséről.” Magyar Koztarsasag Kormanya. Budapest. 2004. Accessed March 30, 2018.
  12. Machami, Neil. “Whither the Soros Foundations – After Soros? Part Two.” Capital Research Center. February 14, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2018.
  13. “The Central European University Is Moving to Vienna.” The Economist. December 05, 2018. Accessed December 05, 2018.
  14. Karasz, Palko. “Hungary’s Parliament Passes Law Targeting George Soros’s University.” The New York Times. April 04, 2017. Accessed December 05, 2018.
  15. Adams, Susan. “Why Hungary Forced George Soros-Backed Central European University To Leave The Country.” Forbes. December 04, 2018. Accessed December 05, 2018.
  16. Lewin, Tamar. “Soros Gives $250 Million To University in Europe.” The New York Times. October 14, 2001. Accessed March 31, 2018.
  17. “George Soros Pledges $202.4 Million to Central European University.” Philanthropy News Digest. July 6, 2005. Accessed March 31, 2018.
  18. The Foundation. Central European University Budapest Foundation. Accessed March 31, 2018.
  19. Gedeon, Eva. Eva Gedeon to Narayan Vitthal Solanke. Universal Versatile Society. April 22, 2016. Accessed March 30, 2018.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: July - June
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1997

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Jul Form 990 $59,298,239 $55,236,586 $26,477,885 $6,828,267 N $58,774,091 $0 $524,148 $1,234,254
    2015 Jul Form 990 $51,108,011 $49,891,357 $30,600,258 $14,821,654 N $50,662,457 $0 $445,554 $1,431,393 PDF
    2014 Jul Form 990 $56,419,147 $55,929,555 $33,709,366 $11,731,700 N $55,493,180 $0 $925,967 $1,307,467 PDF
    2013 Jul Form 990 $55,345,338 $51,209,310 $42,737,249 $21,249,175 N $54,426,988 $0 $918,350 $1,170,068 PDF
    2012 Jul Form 990 $59,193,595 $55,360,507 $28,392,224 $12,330,395 N $58,692,517 $0 $501,078 $591,952 PDF
    2011 Jul Form 990 $58,989,069 $67,248,799 $17,697,264 $5,468,523 N $57,254,931 $0 $1,719,460 $1,112,072 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Central European University (CEU)

    NEW YORK, NY 10019-3212